The RTC All-Big Ten Team: Indiana’s Yogi FerrellPosted by Alex Moscoso (@AlexPMoscoso) on March 6th, 2014
Continuing today with our countdown of the RTC all-Big Ten team, the sixth best player in the league as voted upon by our writers, is Kevin ‘Yogi’ Ferrell. Ferrell came in with high expectations from the media and fans this year, and he hasn’t disappointed from an individual perspective. He was Indiana’s top recruiting prize in 2012 – ranked #25 overall, according to RSCIhoops.com – and, after the NBA exodus by Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo last spring, it was Yogi’s turn to step up and become the focal point of Tom Crean’s offense. And step up he did.
Why Yogi Ferrell is the sixth-best player in the league: Ferrell has been the only elite and consistent scoring threat for Indiana this season. The team has had a relatively disappointing year and it’s scary to think how much further the Hoosiers would have fallen without him in the lineup. In the preseason, there was some uncertainty about whether Ferrell could transform into an full-time scorer (he averaged 7.6 PPG his freshman season), especially given his woeful shooting from deep (30.3 percent). But he’s answered questions about his game affirmatively by coming into the last game of the Big Ten regular season fourth in scoring (17.7 PPG) and leading the league in three-pointers made (81) and three-point shooting (42 percent). This has resulted in a top six Big Ten standing in effective field goal percentage (53.1 percent), true shooting percentage (58.2 percent), and offensive efficiency (1.19 points per possession). And even though he’s stepped his game on the scoring side of thing, he’s been able to maintain his solid assist rate from last season — at around four per game. He’s been clearly the best player on a team that would be in dire straits without him this season.
Signature moment: The Preseason NIT. It was the biggest of stages at Madison Square Garden for Ferrell and the young Hoosiers, and they almost walked away with the championship. In their first game against Washington, the team’s new leader put up 20 points and five assists to help Indiana blow out the Huskies. In the championship game, Ferrell went toe-to-toe with one of the nation’s premier guards, Shabazz Napier, in his own backyard. Napier got the best of him that night, but Ferrell put up enough of a fight (19 points) to lead Indiana in a near-victory despite Noah Vonleh’s scoreless night. By the end of November, it was clear that these Hoosiers were Yogi’s team.
Going forward: As of right now, the Hoosiers are almost certainly out of the NCAA Tournament picture; and at only 5’11”, Ferrell isn’t likely to be a first-round NBA prospect anytime soon. This means he likely has two more years in Bloomington where he can progress and still remain one of the elite players in the league. Next year, Indiana will no longer have Will Sheehey and (likely) Vonleh, but it will bring in talented wings Justin Blackmon and Robert Johnson. If any of these elite prospects can add a consistent scoring punch, Ferrell’s leadership and talent may allow the Hoosiers to make a run at the NCAA Tournament next year. And as a Big Ten fans, we should all be rooting for a player like Yogi to be featured in the best postseason in sports.