Terrance Ferguson: Junior Primer

Even as far back as early 2013, few would have been surprised that Terrance Ferguson would go on to become one of the leading lights in the 2016 class.

How he got here

Terrance Ferguson didn’t require years of gradual momentum to emerge as a top-10 national prospect. The slender wing impressed national onlookers as a freshman when he competed successfully with Dallas (Texas) Prime Prep against a loaded slate of opponents.

He didn’t back down from any travel circuit challenges, either. Ferguson embarked on the trail the following summer with Texas Pro, a squad that featured 2014 star Emmanuel Mudiay and other prominent talents.

Ferguson may be an even better NBA prospect than he is college

Ferguson averaged 12 points per game as only a rising sophomore. He primarily did his damage from the three-point arc — 93 of his 136 attempts came from distance — and he knocked down a solid 38 percent on his triples.

The scholarship offers arrived fast and furious. Before completing his sophomore year Ferguson had picked up invitations from SMU, Texas, Baylor, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and others.

He switched to MWA Elite for the 2014 travel season, establishing himself as a prime talent on the Under Armour circuit as well. In 14 games that spanned from the spring through the end of summer, Ferguson 10 points per game while once against specializing as a three-point shooter.

He exited the summer with mixed reviews. For a player with as much all-around talent, why did he settle for so many long jump shots?

But opinions this season have tilted in his favor. Prime Prep has had serious financial problems and other issues, but at national events Ferguson has been no less than a stud.

In terms of his recruitment, Baylor, Louisville and Arizona all have received prominent mention, though of course a lot could change between now and signing day.

To 2015. …

Ferguson knows what he is, even if it isn’t exactly what others may want him to be. He’s without question an excellent shooter with an NBA-quality release, range and easy mechanics. All he needs is repetition and strength, because his form can carry him in basketball for a long time.

But he doesn’t need to always rely on his threes. Ferguson is a long 6-6 wing with explosive leaping ability off one foot, and occasionally he’ll surprise a big man expecting him to be a below the rim player. Although his game primarily relies on finesse, he’s capable of alpha-athletic plays as well.

He’s particularly deadly in transition due to his speed and leap, and of course he’ll always be formidable as a trailing jump shooter. Get him into the open floor, whether he’s ahead of the pack or lagging just behind, and watch the points pile up.

That’s why he’s our No. 8 junior. What he does well should translate directly to college and beyond, and he also possesses the size and athleticism befitting a blue-chip talent. Moving up further looms as an extremely difficult proposition in a class that’s loaded at the top, but Ferguson holds the potential to do it.

I’d love to see him put on muscle, become more aggressive as a rebounder and defender — another area he could excel long-term — and incorporate more balance into his scoring without sacrificing what he does best.

Ultimately, however, he’s likely to make a big splash at whatever school lands him, and he’ll be among the most featured players to hit the road in the coming months.

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