Kevin "Yogi" Ferrell sat watching the NBA Draft waiting for his name to be called. Ferrell, the 6'0" four-year starter out of Indiana University, was pegged to be a late second rounder in the 2016 Draft following an All B1G First-Team season for the Hoosiers and a trip to the Sweet 16.
As the last names were announced, Ferrell's name wasn't called, but that didn't mean he wasn't wanted. Ferrell was actually in high demand by the league ... if he was willing to be a draft-and-stash. Teams wanted him to go overseas for a year or two because they needed the roster space. Ferrell didn't oblige and he let his name go unannounced at the Barclays Center.
Ironically, Ferrell is looking to get on that Barclays Center floor this season in a Brooklyn Nets uniform.
Would he had liked to be drafted? Sure, but he felt he was in a better position to control his future by going undrafted and choosing who he wanted to play for.
"I felt like in the workouts I had a great chance of being drafted, but in the scenario that happened it was almost a better situation to be undrafted rather than picked 50-60 so I can pick the team that had the best scenario for me," Ferrell told NetsDaily.
Ferrell believes that the Nets, in a rebuild situation, present him an opportunity to play hard and earn a roster spot during Summer League. "A lot of guys [on the Nets] are basically playing for a roster spot at this point so I think this was the best option to work hard and get one of those spots," Ferrell said.
Ferrell, a native Hoosier, owns the I.U. record for most games started in a career. For four years, he was the starting point guard. When Ferrell joined Indiana four years ago, they were the top ranked team in preseason polls, bringing back their four other starters. Ferrell wasn't afraid of the hype around the roster and learned from the experience of playing for a highly covered team with National Championship aspirations.
"I think it did, yes." Ferrell said when asked about learning from playing on a top ranked team. "Throughout my four years, it really matured me as a person and as a player so that I can now go out as the same leader as I was in college in the NBA."
Ferrell is a special type of player in that he sees the floor very well while also being able to create for himself off the dribble and off the pass. First, as a facilitator, Ferrell is the type of player you want to run your offense. Ferrell told NetsDaily he considers himself a "true point guard" and that the Nets are going to look to play him as such, but "I have to be able to have a scorer's mentality."
Ferrell had an assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.22 this season, exemplifying his confidence and ability as a point guard, and Indiana posted the third most efficient offense in all of college basketball, per Draft Express, averaging 1.02 points per play. This was Ferrell's team, the one with the most experience on a relatively young IU squad, and it was his creation off the dribble and in the pick-and-roll that had this team humming on the offensive end.
As for his role in Brooklyn if he were to make the final cut come training camp, expect Ferrell to play similarly to how Shane Larkin did in Brooklyn this past season, using a lot of pick-and-roll like plays with Brook Lopez. According to Synergy Sports Technology, 30% of Ferrell's possessions came in the pick-and-roll this past season in Bloomington, and Ferrell fared well in those situations, using his speed to blow by the big man or quickly pull up off the bounce.
Larkin he used 47% of his possessions, the ninth highest mark in the NBA this season for players who played at least 60 games. Larkin was constantly working the PNR with Lopez and the Nets had solid returns on this type of action; these type of plays ended in a score 32% of the time (not necessarily field goal percentage).
However, Larkin and the Nets turned the ball over 22% of the time, a number too high for a type of play used this much. With Ferrell running the pick-and-roll, and his tighter handle on the orange, the Nets could get some more efficient looks and keep the ball moving compared to last season.
Ferrell's scoring prowess can't go unnoticed. Ferrell can score all over the floor and in a variety of different situations. Despite his small stature (about an inch taller than Larkin), Ferrell takes the ball hard to the rim and finishes at a solid rate for a point guard. There is room for improvement, but new coach Kenny Atkinson is likely to want Ferrell to show off his three-point stroke instead.
Ferrell is a confident shot taker from beyond the arc, he shot 42% from three-point land on more than five attempts per game this past season. When asked about his three-point shooting, Ferrell said "that's one of the main things I always try to focus on, my shooting. I like getting those reps up so and I want to prove to the team that I'm a three-point shooter." For a team that was three-point deficient for most of the season, the Nets could use a spark plug like the Hoosier to get going from beyond the arc next season.
What Ferrell is really trying to prove during Summer League, though, is his defense. Ferrell doesn't get a lot of credit for his tenacity on the defensive end and his hustle, which is a key point of focus on as practice at the HSS Training Center gets underway.
"Defense is one of the things I'm trying to work on, like picking up a guy full court. Basically, I want to disrupt the offense and try and get stops on defense because that's going to be the main thing that helps us get wins in Summer League," Ferrell said. This part of Ferrell's game has the biggest question marks going forward and it will be imperative for him to prove to Brooklyn's brass that he can do it at the NBA level.
Ferrell was one of the notable names to go undrafted out of this year's class and the Nets got a firm commitment from him soon after to play Summer League. The Nets are in the middle of a rebuild and with the cupboard bare of draft picks for the next few years, this is how the Nets need to improve: taking chances on second round/undrafted prospects.
It's not just an opportunity for him. This is an opportunity for the Nets to find a talented point guard (the team's greatest position of need) and for Ferrell to get a great chance to get a roster spot and some playing time for a rebuilding roster.
Ferrell wants to be a Net and he feels this is the place for him to get a great chance at thriving in the NBA. When asked if he wants to start his pro career in Brooklyn, Ferrell answered, "I'm looking to get a spot on the Nets. I like the city here in Brooklyn, the city has great energy and great people and great organization here. I feel that they can develop me into the player I want to be and succeed."