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For two Nets rookies, emotions high as careers begin

Whitehead and Atkinson at Coney Island Brooklyn Nets

Isaiah Whitehead and Yogi Ferrell will be making their pro debut Thursday night at Barclays. Both point guards are understandably nervous, but one, Whitehead, has a two-year guarantee while Ferrell is fighting for a job, having signed a training camp contract with a partial guarantee.

Of course, Whitehead has plenty of other reasons to be nervous. When he walks on the court, the nearly 6’5” Coney Island native will be the first Brooklynite to wear a Nets uniform. While the preseason opener is a big deal, he knows October 28, the Nets home opener, is going to be bigger.

“I’m going to be the most nervous man in Brooklyn, I’ll tell you that,” Whitehead told Laura Amato of the Brooklyn Daily. “It’s just really about taking it all in as much as possible. I’m just really looking forward to the game.”

He believes that getting through it will be helped by a basic rule.

“When I’m on the court, play as hard as possible,” Whitehead said. “When they give me a shot, just go out there and do what I do and hopefully it’s what they like.”

In a companion profile of Ferrell, Amato notes that the 6’0” Ferrell is looking at the preseason as his big chance to impress. He thinks he will. He likes what he’s seen from the Nets.

“I’ve read a few stories about guys that have gone undrafted and made teams,” Ferrell said. “I knew that, when I had that opportunity with the Nets, I was going to take it. I had a great feeling here when I worked out pre-draft with the staff, coaches — what they wanted to accomplish for their upcoming season. I was just excited to come here.”

Both players have a lot of positive things to say about Kenny Atkinson.

“[Coach] really motivates you to get better — and get better at the things you can’t do,” Whitehead said. “So it’s great to be playing for him. I mean, you name it, he has me doing it.”

Said Ferrell, “He expects great things, and with him, each day, you want to get something out of it,” Ferrell said. “It’s just simple things. He wants you to go out on the court and make simple decisions, don’t hesitate your game.”

Ferrell knows he may be playing for the Long Island Nets this season, but he’s grateful for the opportunity he’s already been given.

“To come here and be part of something like this — where it’s rebuilding — is something special,” Ferrell said. “So what I’m trying to bring to this team is my leadership, my energy, and my enthusiasm. I’m going to try and go out here and make every day better.”