Charlotte Hornets draft candidate Terrance Ferguson was blunt Monday when asked about college basketball as a farm system for the NBA.
It’s a rip-off.
“At college, the only people making money off you are the coaches,” said Ferguson, who chose to play professionally in Australia straight out of high school. “You’re not making anything off your jersey sales, ticket sales. Not anything. So go overseas, the way I did, and get your money’s worth. Get paid for what you’re doing.”
A 6-7 guard-forward, Ferguson initially committed to Alabama, then later switched his commitment to Arizona. He never got to either school, signing with the Adelaide 36ers, an Australian pro team. He was one of six players who worked out for the Hornets Monday and is a viable candidate for Charlotte’s 11th overall pick.
Under NBA rules, a player from the United States isn’t eligible for the draft until at least one year removed from the graduation of his high school class. That sends most top prospects into college basketball for at least a freshman season.
At college, the only people making money off you are the coaches. … So go overseas, the way I did, and get your money’s worth. Get paid for what you’re doing.
NBA draft prospect Terrance Ferguson, who skipped college for a year of pro basketball in Australia
Ferguson followed the path of Washington Wizards guard Brandon Jennings and good friend Emmanuel Mudiay of the Denver Nuggets, signing overseas, rather than going the college route. There was some question whether he’d qualify academically to play at Arizona as a freshman.
Ferguson reportedly made about $1 million last season. He said Monday more top prospects should explore playing overseas, rather than a one-and-done stay in college basketball.
That’s not just about the money, though Ferguson said that was central to his decision. It was also about the experience of competing against much older, more physically-developed players, and accepting a non-starring role.
“I’m way more prepared than any college player,” Ferguson said. “A college player is coming in thinking he’s the man. After you’ve sat on the bench (on a pro team), they’re not going to like that. I’ve already faced that overseas. I overcome that, so I have the right mindset coming into the league.
“It’s very physical; a grown-man league,” Ferguson said of Australia’s NBL. “Everyone over there was going to go after me. I just had to hold my ground and be tough.”
Ferguson’s statistics were far short of head-turning: He averaged 4.8 points, 0.6 assists and 14.6 minutes per game.
It’s common for young American prospects to play limited roles on foreign teams, where coaches tend to lean on experience, rather than potential.
Ferguson feels strongly that others should follow his course to the NBA.
“Most one-and-done players are only going to spend a couple of months in college,” Ferguson said. “You’ve got to do school work and all this other stuff. When you go overseas, you’ll spend the same amount of months (before being NBA draft-eligible), but you’ll be focused (exclusively) on straight-on basketball.
Ferguson, who will work out for 10 teams pre-draft, showed off NBA 3-point shooting range at Monday’s workout. At 185 pounds, he’s very thin and needs badly to add muscle.
“Definitely my shooting; any team can use shooting and defense, and I’m a coachable player,” Ferguson said of his attributes.
And his liability?
“As you can see I’m a skinny guy, I’ve got to get bigger. It’s super-hard, but I’m trying my best.”
▪ The Hornets will hold another draft workout Tuesday that will include several players from area colleges.
South Carolina’s P.J. Dozier and Clemson’s Jaron Blossomgame and Avry Holmes. Others scheduled to audition: Southeast Missouri State’s Antonius Cleveland, Creighton’s Justin Patton and Georgia Tech’s Quinton Stephens.