I expected to see an incredible talent, and at first glance, he looks like the real deal; listed at 6-foot-8 or 6-foot-9 in most publications but probably closer to 6-foot-7, he looks like he is ready to step onto an NBA floor; he is lean and strong and very athletic looking.
When coach Calipari first took over the reigns at Kentucky, one of the very few bits of negative news that came out was that Ferguson had decided to reopen his recruitment after coach Billy Gillispie left, "I had a relationship with coach Gillispie and I really didn't know anything about coach Calipari," Ferguson said on Friday, "I am still talking to them (Kentucky) though."
On the court, Ferguson continues to look impressive as he runs up and down the court. He is strong, fast and runs fluidly; he's very active on both ends of the court and loves to mix it up for loose balls. Still, after three games, I have yet to see a 5-star recruit as he is listed by Scout.com. Although this is certainly not an apples to apples comparison, if I were to begin building a basketball team from scratch I'd pick Trey Zeigler or Ray McCallum from his team before Ferguson.
Given that Dave Telep and other Scout.com analysts see players like Dominique many, many more times than me, I would certainly defer to their expertise. However, it was more than just his play that underwhelmed me a bit; I also have questions about his overall level of maturity compared to others out there with similar skill sets.
In the game Friday morning against the Texas Blue Chips Navy team, as an example, Dominique was pulled a couple of times by his coach, seemingly for becoming frustrated on the court. He frequently called for the ball and looked flustered if his teammates went a different direction with the ball.
On more than one occasion when he thought a referee missed a call he delayed getting back down the court and instead glared at the referee. He rolled his eyes at teammates when they made mistakes.
Toward the end of the game, with his team down by two, Ferguson called for and received the ball with 7.6 seconds remaining on the clock and his team down by two. A taller, heavier opponent came out after him. Instead of using his speed to move around his opponent he fired up a quick shot that clanked loudly off the rim. He then failed to foul the opponent who rebounded the ball near him for a few seconds allowing the clock to dwindle to 1.2 seconds. His team lost by three. Dominique had seven points that game. Later that evening he scored eight in a 72-65 loss.
Off the court there are other things that cumulatively bother me a little. First, there was the de-commitment after Calipari arrived; he also changed schools for his senior season. And in Las Vegas, he was scheduled to play with SYF and was on their roster at adidias, but switched to Team Detroit. One of the staff on SYF told me they were surprised and not clear about why the change was made. None of these things, by themselves, are particularly shocking, but cumulatively, it makes one wonder.
Don't get me wrong; I am not saying he is a bad player or has a bad attitude; he isn't and he doesn't. Still, I would not at all be surprised to if the Wildcats chose to move in a different direction after this tournament.
On the other hand, the foundation of a very good player is certainly there. If these games turned out to be a bit of a fluke or the UK staff sees something different than I, then I suspect they see a player they can mold into what they want. From my limited perspective the jury is still very much out.
Ever hear of Walter Pitchford? I hadn't until I started watching Ferguson's Team Detroit team. He is a 6-foot-9 PF from Grand Rapids, MI. that has played very well this week. He had 16 points and at least five blocks in the team's 72-65 loss last night and was the only bright spot on the team in the 3-point loss in the game I mentioned above. He had 12 points, 6 or 7 rebounds and at least three blocks in that game. I know Michigan is looking at Pitchford. He currently has a single star ranking on his Scout.com profile. I'd expect that to rise to 3-4 stars very quickly. I think he will make a very solid Division I player.