Deepak is a columnist for the Big Ten microsite of RTC. Follow him on Twitter for more about B1G hoops at @dee_b1g.
With less than three months left until the college season tips off, we at the RTC Big Ten Microsite are here to get you excited about the stars who are returning next season and ready to take on the responsibility of leading their teams to conference glory. Over the next few weeks, we plan to evaluate a number of key Big Ten sophomores who will have an impact on their team’s performance throughout the entire season. Today, we focus on Indiana point guard Yogi Ferrell.
A point guard who is rated among the top 30 players in his class by various recruiting services should expect to play a significant role in his team’s offense as a freshman. But Yogi Ferrell had a different set of rules for his first season in Bloomington because Tom Crean’s team already had All-Americans such as Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo as well as other talented upperclassmen like Christian Watford and Jordan Hulls on board to carry the load. Nonetheless, Ferrell made the most of his rookie campaign by cracking the starting rotation and averaging 7.6 PPG while playing a strong 28.1 MPG. Deferring to his teammates to score in a high-powered offense may not have been easy for the freshman point guard, but his patience will pay off next season when he will be responsible for running Crean’s offense and will by necessity become one of the primary scoring options for the Hoosiers. He will have the opportunity to shine as a sophomore but let’s evaluate the parts of his game that will need to improve in order for him to make the leap next season.
What did we learn from him last year?
Last season proved that Ferrell is a great fit for an offensive scheme designed to push the ball up the court and create opportunities for the wings to either drive to the basket or pull up for shots from beyond the arc. He displayed tremendous speed in transition, leading to plentiful open looks for sharpshooters such as Hulls and Watford. Without such a speedy point guard pushing the ball upcourt, Crean’s offense wouldn’t have led the Big Ten in tempo at 65.7 possessions per game. The freshman averaged 4.6 APG with an assist to turnover ratio of 2:1, not at all shabby for a player navigating a conference that boasts numerous elite defenses. After 30+ games in his career, we now know that he is great in transition, but we haven’t seen as much from him in the half-court. Considering the talent on last year’s roster, there were no plays called for him but in key spots his jumper looked decent even though it wasn’t very consistent (30% from beyond the arc). Despite his middling shooting percentage, he showed a quick release and was not hesitant to pull the trigger if there was an open look from outside. In summary, Ferrell has proven that he has the fundamental skills to succeed in Crean’s offense, but he will need to be more judicious with his shot selection going forward.