Terrance Ferguson On His Way To Prime Time
Following a week of training camp at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., that began with 29 of the best players in the country age 16-years-old-or-younger, Terrance Ferguson (Prime Prep Academy/Flower Mound, Texas) was one of just 12 players to hear his named called on the evening of June 4 as a member of the 2013 USA Basketball Men’s U16 National Team that will compete at the FIBA Americas U16 Championship June 11-15 in Maldonado, Uruguay.
“When we got the news, everybody was running down the halls, up the stairs, just yelling, calling everybody that they know,” Ferguson admitted. “We were very excited. I was on the phone for like three hours with my sister and my mom.”
Ferguson was not nervous because he felt he had played poorly, he was nervous because, among the most-talented field he has ever been a part of, he wasn’t sure whether his best was good enough.
“I was nervous, but I thought I had a good shot at the same time,” Ferguson said of making the team. “There were a lot of people that play my position, so I was a little nervous.
“I knew that training camp was going to be tough, playing against all the best (Class of) 2015, 2016 players, so I had to bring it and go my hardest. Playing against these players, they are the best, so I have to take my game to different levels. Move my feet on defense, and work on my offense.”
Even before the team was named, after six days of two-a-day practices, Ferguson already could point to specific improvements in his game.
“Defensively, I wasn’t really a defensive player, but since I’ve been to this camp, I’ve been D-ing up. I’m probably like the second-best defensive player on the ball, one-on-one defense, it’s getting pretty good.”
Ferguson and his USA teammates are under the direction of Don Showalter (Iowa City H.S., Iowa), a four-time gold-medal winning head coach with USA Basketball at the FIBA Americas U16 Championship in 2009 and 2011 and at the FIBA U17 World Championship in 2010 and 2012.
“He's a good coach,” Ferguson said of Showalter. “He'll tell you straight up what you need to work on, what you need to stop doing. He's a straight-up coach, and I like that.
“He wants me to be a shooter, a knock-down shooter, and I'm a defensive player, so I'm going to bring that to the game and get my team pumped up,” Ferguson said of the role he expects to play on the team.”
While those roles of shooter, defender and energy-guy aren’t foreign to Ferguson, what is new to him is playing on a squad loaded with tall, talented perimeter players.
“I have to change up my position sometimes, because everybody plays the same position, so I have to do different things, get out of my comfort zone,” Ferguson said of the challenges. “Coach said you have to get out of your comfort zone, so that's what I will do, and I'm getting better at it.”
Making the team has brought some relief to Ferguson, but the work is far from over.
“We have less players, so we have to bring it more. You got to get on the court fast, and off the court fast and just run.
“I think it's draining for everybody mentally, all these practices. But we have a trainer, so he stretches us out and loosens our legs up, so every practice my legs are loose, so that’s good.”
Challenging and exhausting, training camp also has been fun for Ferguson. From the start, every player at training camp has been staying at the dorms, meaning they eat, sleep and train together.
“We’re becoming a family now. We are all laughing and joking around, meeting in the same room together watching TV, just being brothers, making a brotherhood. It’s really fun.
“It’s about friendship, but sometimes I look up to the people who are older than me and see how they live life. I try to copy their footsteps, but in my own ways.”
An easy way to identify Ferguson, on or off the court, is by the mini-fauxhawk Ferguson sports, which is tamed down in recent days as the, “2K,” that was emblazoned on the side of his hair has grown out and faded.
“It started at a camp, Pangos’ All-American Camp, and Elijah Thomas, we were on the same team, and he saw how I was jumping, and I think we made the all-star game, and he was like, ‘I’m going to start calling you 2K,’ and then the name started getting around and all that, so everybody started calling me 2K.
“So, I was getting a mowhawk at the time, so I named it 2K and had that nickname shaved in.”
Elijah Thomas (Rockwall H.S./Rowlett, Texas) not only gave Ferguson his current nickname, he gave him a heads-up on USA Basketball as well. Thomas attended the USA Developmental National Team’s mini-camp this past October at the U.S. Olympic Training Center.
The advice from Thomas came after Ferguson got over the shock of the invitation in the first place.
“I was very surprised,” Ferguson said of receiving an invitation to training camp from the USA Basketball Men’s Developmental National Team Committee. “I didn't even know anybody knew me at the time, and when I got the invitation, I knew I needed to make a name for myself.”
Ferguson had just completed a freshman season at Prime Prep Academy, where the school is trying to make a name for itself after being founded by NFL Hall of Famer Deion Sanders and his business partner DL Wallace for the 2012-13 school year.
“He’s always at the school, so I meet him almost every day,” Ferguson said of Sanders. “I say, ‘Hi,’ and talk a little bit.
“I look up to him a lot. Since he’s been through everything, he went to the big leagues and all that. I know he had to work for it, and he made it, so I will follow his footsteps, but in my own way.
“I like how he is giving back to the children. He has been through things, and now he is giving back to us, so that’s good of him. I like that.”
Prime Prep plays a national schedule, mostly out of state, but in its first year, Ferguson and his teammates finished the year 38-2, collecting the National Association of Christian Athletes (NACA) Tournament Division I title, and reaching the semifinals of the National High School Invitational. Ferguson averaged 10.0 points per game on the season and earned NACA Tournament MVP.
“It was big goal for us to reach since it was our first year,” Ferguson said of the NACA title. “The competition was really good. We didn’t know that at first, but they actually were pretty good. We came out with the title, so that was a good accomplishment for us for our first year, first championship, first basketball team ever.”
The NHSI brought yet another, bigger stage for Ferguson and Prime Prep.
“It was awesome,” Ferguson said of the NHSI. “There’s only like 200 people at my school, so we felt like we were showing up for the whole school. And they supported us through the whole thing, they watched us on TV, all of that. So, they supported us when we were away and they were home.”
“We came out ready, pumped up, but we came up short,” Ferguson said of the semifinal loss. “After that, people knew who we were.”
Surely, even more basketball fans will know Ferguson’s name after a summer in which he represents his country playing for USA Basketball.
“I just can’t wait to put on my jersey and put U-S-A across my chest,” Ferguson said. “That’s just a great accomplishment to play for my country. That’s just amazing, especially for my age.”