The Nets scouts are a varied lot. Khalid Green coached Bishop Loughlin High School, the school closest to Barclays Center. Shelden Williams played for the Nets and a lot of other teams. Danko Cvjeticanin won Olympic silver medals with two different countries playing alongside Drazen Petrovic.
Then, there’s Bob Ferry who turns 80 later this month. The 6’8” power forward from another era played 13 years, then was GM of the Cavaliers and Bullets, winning a ring during Washington’s championship season in 1978.
As Roman Stubbs of the Washington Post reported Wednesday, Ferry has seen a lot of basketball, most recently at the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament last month. It’s the first of the off-season’s cattle calls, where college seniors give it their best shot, hoping to get a summer league invitation, a training camp gig or most unlikely a spot in the second round.
Not surprisingly, Ferry is old school, staddling, as Stubbs notes, the eye test era with that of deep analytics. It works for him and for the Nets.
Instead of resisting the analytics movement, Ferry learned everything he could. He mostly tried to help encourage younger scouts on the staff, including 31-year-old Matt Riccardi, who accompanied Ferry to Portsmouth and later called him the “Godfather” as he approached during halftime of one of the games they were scouting.
He still scribbles notes in a notebook, still hunts-and-pecks at a keyboard, still sees what others might not. And it’s all done with the grace and charm of basketball gentry.
“You gravitate toward Bob, because how easy he is to talk to, how friendly he is, how many stories he has of the basketball world,” Riccardi, who’s also assistant GM of the Long Island Nets, told Stubbs.
On the day Stubbs followed Ferry, the father of Danny, around Portsmouth, he got a sense of what he looking for in a player.
“I really like this kid here,” Ferry said, pointing to 6-3, 205-pound Northeastern guard T.J. Williams. “You could write a paragraph about his body. Look at how high his shoulders are. Look at where his legs are. He hustles.”
He also took note of UConn center Amida Brimah’s big hands and Canyon Barry’s lineage, the great Rick Barry’s youngest son.
But time is taking its toll on Ferry, as Stubbs notes. He spends most of his time scouting on TV and Synergy from his Annapolis home. He thinks this could be his last go-around at Portsmouth.
Ferry has been with the Nets since 2010, when he became one of Billy King’s first hires. Sean Marks, knowing what Ferry brings to the job, kept him on. Good on him, good on the Nets.
- 79-year-old NBA scout has embraced analytics but never abandoned the good old eye test - Roman Stubbs - Washington Post