If there were any doubts about the ability of 5'10" Park Tudor sophomore Yogi Ferrell to play high-major Division I basketball, they've been erased.
Erased by a run to the Class 2A state title game, as Park Tudor followed up a 9-10 regular season with five straight wins to earn a spot opposite Wheeler (26-1) in Saturday's championship contest at Conseco Fieldhouse. Ferrell has clearly been the team's catalyst, averaging better than 24 points per game this season and winning Saturday's semistate tilt with a buzzer-beating jumper in the fourth overtime in a 47-45 win over Forest Park.
It's also been erased by an abundance of interest and offers from high major college coaches. Notre Dame was quick to offer, and Purdue was looking for a quick verbal from the point guard after its early tender. That commitment wasn't forthcoming, though, and Indiana, Northwestern, Iowa, Virginia, Stanford, Michigan and Illinois have since added themselves into the recruiting equation.
"I've coached at the high school, college and NBA level, and I think he's definitely a high-major guard," said Park Tudor Coach Ed Schilling.
Everyone else now appears in agreement with the first-year Park Tudor coach, who was an assistant coach on John Calipari's New Jersey Nets' staff in the mid-1990s and also spent six years as the head coach at Wright State. Ferrell is a lightning-quick point guard who can get just about anywhere he wants on the basketball court. While he's one of the state's leading scorers at better than 24 points per game, Schilling says he's an equally skilled distributor of the ball who's just been asked to shoulder much of the scoring load on a young Park Tudor squad.
"He is a true point guard when he's afforded that luxury," Schilling said. "He gets in there and makes people better. He draws the defense, hits people in the hands and makes those around him better."
For all of those gifts, there used to be some reservations about Ferrell's size and whether or not that would be cause for concern for high majors. But Schilling said the college coaches who have been in have quickly had those concerns erased by what they've seen from Ferrell in workouts and in games.
"He is 5'10", so it's not like he's 5'6"," Schilling said. "He jumps really well, he's really quick and he has great anticipation. He strong and can pass with either hand and finish with either hand. He absorbs contact. So he plays bigger due to his skill level and his athleticism."
Indiana's coaching staff is clearly convinced. Schilling said one of IU's assistant coaches was on hand to watch Ferrell play early during the regular season, and IU Coach Tom Crean traveled to Indianapolis to watch Ferrell in the Marion County Tournament. Assistant Coach Tim Buckley was then on hand for Ferrell's 21-point performance in an upset win over Class 4A over Cathedral in late February, and an IU offer wasn't far behind.
Schilling said Crean returned to the high school to watch a practice after Park Tudor had won the sectional, and Crean let Schilling know he was offering a scholarship.
"I felt (the IU offer) was coming after Coach Buckley saw him," Schilling said. "He's the type of kid I think they're looking for. He's an in-state kid who makes everyone better, can get in the lane and create for others. He's also the type of kid that can handle it academically. Park Tudor is no joke academically. Yogi is also very coachable. That's the kind of thing Coach Crean and a lot of other schools that are recruiting him are looking for."
Now that Indiana and those other schools have found those attributes in Ferrell, they're hoping they can get him to be a part of their 2012 recruiting classes. Schilling said Purdue was particularly hopeful that Ferrell would commit early, but the youngster hasn't expressed an interest in ending his recruitment anytime soon.
"I think if and when you get to the point where you think this is the school I really want to play for, this is the fit from the coaching staff to the type of kids on the team to the school, location. If you find that place, if you find it as a sophomore, great," Schilling said. But then again you might not find it until you're a senior. I don't think there's a rush. This is one of the biggest decisions you make in your life, where you go to school. So you want to be sure as possible on it."
The lack of any early commitment figures to make Ferrell's high school and AAU games must-see events for many college coaches in the coming months and years, even more so than they've been this winter. But Schilling said the attention from college coaches doesn't have much an impact on how his standout sophomore goes about his business on the court.
"The only thing he does when coaches are there, he might even up the energy a bit more," Schilling said. "He isn't affected by it. You don't know if he scored 40 or if he didn't score. He's one of those even-keeled guys. Not much affects him."
Plenty of Believers in Park Tudor's Ferrell
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