USA Today

COLUMN: Time to recognize Ferrell's sucess

Yogi Ferrell became Indiana's all-time assists leader on Tuesday night. He's often flown under the radar, but now is the time to recognize his greatness at Indiana.

Yogi Ferrell arrived in Bloomington in 2012 as the front man of "The Movement". When Cody Zeller committed to Indiana, Ferrell quickly followed suit, determined to the Hoosiers return to greatness.

In his freshman season, Ferrell played for a Big Ten champion and a team that made it to the Sweet Sixteen. He was Indiana's leading scorer in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament. All eyes on Indiana, all eyes on Yogi.

People cared. They asked him questions and wrote stories about him. 

But soon enough, people outside the state stopped paying attention. They stopped caring and they were no longer writing stories about him.

Why? Because we, as humans, have short attention spans. Once we've seen something, it's not as impressive to us. We are infatuated with the shiny new object, the next star. LeBron James was cool in Miami. He was cool last year when he chased a title in his hometown. 

But Stephen Curry is the shiny new toy, and he's captured everybody's attention. LeBron, Tim Duncan, Kevin Durant, etc. are still there, but if you paid attention only to the top stories, you wouldn't know it. 

In the new era of college basketball, Ferrell is a dinosaur. If you're a star, you're unlikely to stay four years, and if you stay four years, you're likely not a star.

Ferrell defies the norm in that way. He is a star, always has been a star dating back to his days as the top ranked 6th grader in the country. But because of his lack of size and elite quickness, Ferrell has been a college star for four years, the rarest of breeds these days.

You don't often see individual school records broken these days because it's impossible to do in one year what others have down in four. College players don't think about breaking school records. They think about their draft stock and what they can do to improve it. 

But don't let the new era of basketball and basic human nature take away from what Ferrell accomplished on Tuesday night. He's now the all-time assists leader at a school with five national championships. Ferrell accomplished that feat while also serving as Indiana's primary offensive option and its leading scorer. 

"It's not the obvious that's so good about him," said Indiana coach Tom Crean. "That's pretty clear -- he shoots it, he's quick, he's strong, he defends, he can pass. It's the ground that he covers, it's the covering for his teammates, it's the communication. ... I have no doubt that his best days are at the next level."

Michael Lewis, a guard in the late 1990s and the previous IU assists leader, averaged only 7.0 points per game for his career. I say that not to disparage what Lewis accomplished, but rather to show just how impressive Ferrell's career has been. His senior season is not yet over, but Ferrell is averaging 14.1 points per game for his career, more than twice what Lewis averaged. And given the number of games remaining this year, it's fair to predict that Ferrell will post an assists number that will stand as the record for a long time. 

"Yogi's work ethic was really strong when he came in here four years ago, and it has only grown," Crean said. "He is always one of the last guys off [the court], and most importantly, he's always trying to find a way to get back on. It's the extra work that he puts it, and it's the way he's carried his teammates with him. Rarely do you see him watching film on the road by himself. 

"If he stays on this path, he'll leave here with a really strong legacy." 

Ferrell has often been overlooked and forgotten nationally, and that's understandable. People want to hear about freaks like Ben Simmons. Or guys that put up crazy numbers like Kris Dunn or Buddy Hield. 

Those guys are great, they're flashy, fun to watch. But on this the day Ferrell became Indiana's all-time assists leaders, it's important that we recognize and appreciate what he has accomplished in his career. An Indiana kid having success at the state school. It's the storybook tale, so I decided to write about it.

The only question now is: How will Ferrell write his final chapter? Top Stories