Player Spotlight: Indiana G Yogi Ferrell
What is it like to be declared the best when you are only ten years old?
Ask Indiana PG Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell Jr., for he experienced it firsthand.
In 2004, a college basketball scouting service called The Hoop Scoop, ranked Ferrell the top 4th grade player in the country in a set of very controversial rankings. This prompted a front-page story in the Indianapolis Star, and a giant target to appear on the youngster’s back. Whenever Ferrell would step into a gym, all of the other players were focused on outplaying him; the “best.”
Yogi’s path to the Big Ten was anything but easy. As so many cautionary tales seem to go, whenever the moniker of “the best” is bestowed upon a player, he often fades and fizzles under the pressure.
For Ferrell, it was his father’s decision to pull him from playing AAU basketball in 7th and 8th grade that may have saved his career. Yogi took time away from the game to be a kid, and gradually, the target faded from his back.
The 6 foot guard out of Park Tudor high school in Indianapolis played at a high level in high school. During his junior and senior seasons, Ferrell’s squad had a 51-4 record on their way to two IHSAA 2A State Championships.
During the 2012 McDonald’s High School All-American game, Ferrell was the leading playmaker, dishing 8 assists and having no turnovers in 22 minutes of action. His performance during his senior season also earned him 2nd place in Indiana Mr. Basketball, with the winner being current Michigan State guard, Gary Harris.
Ferrell’s recruitment to Indiana was a swift one, deciding on Tom Crean’s Hoosiers over offers from Butler, Florida, Virginia, and Wake Forest. One of Yogi’s main stipulations in committing to Indiana was that he would start at point guard during his freshman season, and Crean held up his end of the bargain.
Ferrell started all 36 games as a freshman for a talented Indiana team that won the Big Ten, advanced to the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament, and included 2013 NBA Draft studs Victor Oladipo and Cody Zeller. After being the first scoring option throughout his high school career, Yogi developed as a facilitator during his freshman year of college. In 28.1 mpg, the guard average 7.6 ppg and 4.1 apg, earning him Big Ten All-Freshman honors.
This season, Ferrell is the only returning Hoosier starter and has been asked to step into the main leadership role. While this season’s Indiana squad is very inexperienced, Ferrell has been terrific, averaging 17.6 ppg, 4 apg, and shooting 42.8% from three-point range.
He is currently the Big Ten’s second-leading scorer, and he has scored in double figures in all but one of his 23 games this season. Ferrell has been crucial to Indiana’s success in Big Ten wins over Wisconsin and Michigan at Assembly Hall this season. He scored 25 in the matchup with the Badgers, and 27 on 8-10 shooting, including 7-8 from three-point range, in the win over Michigan.
Ten years after being ranked the top 4th grader in the country, Yogi Ferrell is living his dream, as the leader of the Indiana Hoosiers.
Uriah Tagle is a junior majoring in communication arts and sciences, and economics. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo Courtesy: (AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt)