Terrance Ferguson Hopes To Continue USA Success In 2016 Nike Hoop Summit
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Terrance Ferguson (Advanced Prep International/Dallas, Texas) is a three-time USA Basketball gold medalist who still felt a rush of relief when he was asked to join his fourth USA Basketball team for the 19th annual Nike Hoop Summit.
“When I first started with USA Basketball, I had no idea what the Nike Hoop Summit was,” Ferguson explained. “Once I started getting involved more, then I learned about it. It was a goal for me to get to play in the game.
“I didn’t think I was going to make team,” he admitted. “As soon as I got that call, I just went crazy, and my mom went crazy, because it’s USA Basketball. Anyone that is a part of USA Basketball knows how big it is and the feeling of playing on a USA team against the world, it’s just an unbelievable experience and opportunity.”
Despite his trio of gold medals, which he won at the 2013 FIBA Americas U16 Championship in Uruguay, the 2014 FIBA U17 World Championship in the United Arab Emirates and the 2015 FIBA U19 World Championship in Greece, Ferguson said he was not sure his past resume would land him a 2016 roster spot.
“I just know how big USA Basketball is,” he said. “They take the best 12 players on a team that they think can win, so to hear my name called for the best 12 is just unbelievable.”
In fact, Ferguson is 19-0 in major international competitions, and he will be joined on the USA Junior National Select Team for the Nike Hoop Summit by three players who also own the same three gold medals and record – Josh Jackson (Justin-Siena Catholic H.S./Prolific Prep Academy/Southfield, Mich.), Jayson Tatum (Chaminade College Prep/St. Louis, Mo.) and Harry Giles (Forest Trail Academy/Winston-Salem, N.C.), who will attend the event as an honorary team caption but cannot play due to injury.
“It would probably be Jayson Tatum,” Ferguson said when asked who he is most looking forward to playing alongside. “Me and him and always connect. Josh Jackson, we’ve been playing with each other and we’ve won three gold medals together, so just to see them again will be great. It’s been great to know each other through all of that.”
This past summer, all four players were some of the youngest members of the USA U19 World Championship Team that compiled a 7-0 record on the way to the gold medal in a competition that often includes professional players on other national team rosters. The USA mostly cruised through its first five games before edging out host Greece 82-76 in the semifinals, and then the USA defeated Croatia 79-71 in overtime to win the gold medal.
“That U19 team, that was probably the year that I was the most nervous,” Ferguson said. “I did not expect my name to be called for the final team, but it was. Just to compete with those players and to get to know the college guys. And to actually win the gold medal, because the game went down to the end. We went to overtime. So, it was a tough game, but we fought through and got the win. To win the gold medal at that level was unbelievable.”
For Ferguson, the experience was more than just another opportunity on the basketball court. Playing for college coaches Sean Miller (Arizona), Ed Cooley (Providence) and Archie Miller (Dayton) and alongside four then-college freshmen, Ferguson got a chance to imagine his future.
“They are more experienced,” Ferguson said. “They have been through it. So I would learn from them and how they carried themselves during the game and off the court. I learned a lot of information from each of them about how they contribute to the team and all that in different ways, to their college teams and their high school teams in the past, so I learned a lot.
“The college coaches taught me a lot of things. Pretty much off the court, though. They showed us how to be men, the high school players. They put a lot of information in our heads in terms of basketball. They have had plenty of players go to the NBA, so they taught us a lot about the game and what it takes and what it takes to actually play for them. It helped us.
“People are not always going to be there to take care of us, so we have to learn to do stuff for ourselves sometimes. That is one thing they taught us. And with film, not may people watch film in high school. Film is actually important. They showed us that. That is one thing I’ve started doing a lot.”
2015 also was his third time playing in a far-away country – something he never dreamed was possible.
“When I tell people the places that I’ve been to, sometimes it’s just unbelievable,” Ferguson said. “God has a plan for everyone. The experiences are crazy. Growing up, I never pictured myself going to Dubai or going to Greece or to Uruguay. I got the opportunity, and I took it.
“We get to see a lot, even though we are there for business purposes. We get to go around and see the city and different gyms. It’s actually great from both perspectives, basketball and traveling.”
All of that experience will be valuable to Ferguson as he looks to make his record 20-0 in the Nike Hoop Summit on April 9.
“We played in two world championships and one FIBA Americas championship, so I’m pretty sure that we are the most experienced of us all,” Ferguson explained. “So, we’ll teach the guys that haven’t been through it yet and talk to them about what to expect. But, at the end of the day, we are just trying to go out with a ‘W.’”
Ferguson’s attitude isn’t much different when it comes to his high school team, Advanced Prep International, which is in its first year of existence. Prior to that, Ferguson played at the now-defunct Prime Prep Academy.
“My senior year has been crazy,” said Ferguson. “Way more than I expected it to be. We are the hunt for a national championship. I’m playing pretty good, and everything is happening perfect for me.”
Despite the turmoil of not knowing where he would finish his prep career, Ferguson found support from his mother, from his high school coach at both Prime Prep and Advanced Prep, and from USA Basketball in the form of USA Men’s National Team assistant director B.J. Johnson.
“It was pretty hard,” Ferguson said of transition schools. “I actually had a talk with BJ, and BJ just told me to take my time and relax. That everything would fall into place. I believe in BJ a lot. He did a lot for me, so after he told me that. It just left my mind, and I was calm. I wasn’t really worried about what was going to happen in the future. I knew something would happen.
“It was the same mindset. Just go in and do your part. Whatever the outcome is, accept it. That is what I’m doing right now, and everything seems to be on the right track right now.”
He is clear about what is most important to him this season, making it back to a place he hasn’t been since he was a freshman in 2012-13, when he averaged 10.0 points per game to help Prime Prep to the 2013 NACA Division I Tournament title and the 2013 National High School Invitational semifinals.
“Just the national championship,” he said of his goals. “I haven’t been to a national championship since my freshman year, so just to go back and actually win it and be the talk of the event, that’d be huge. So, if I am able to do that, my goals would be set for high school.”
With a verbal commitment to the University of Alabama, Ferguson knows where he will head in the fall.
“I just wanted to be different,” he said of his college choice. “And also coach Avery. He’s a great coach. He’s great off the court also in teaching me how to be a man, also. He has connections. He’s been in the NBA, so his connections are powerful. To be under his wing will be unbelievable.”
Ferguson considers himself a shooter, but it’s another aspect of his game that he credits for a lot of his success.
“My strengths are definitely my shooting ability, but I try to focus more on defense,” Ferguson explained. “That’s how I’ve been know for the past USA teams. And I’m going to keep that going, because I see that it has worked out, so I’m going to keep it going with defense.”
Ferguson has worked hard to earn the confidence he seems to possess.
“Just get in the gym,” was Ferguson’s advice for those with serious aspirations. “Most people say it. But actually work on your game. Don’t just go to the gym and just throw up shots. Actually have a routine and continue the routine throughout the year. Like, I wake up at 5 in the morning, and I put up 1,000 shots, then I go to school. Then after school, I put up 500 shots. So, I just keep shooting and trying to perfect my game. That’s in season. That’s all the time.”
That kind of discipline hopefully will pay off for Ferguson and the USA Basketball team in the Nike Hoop Summit, as they take on a World Select Team of top international players who are 19 years old or younger that won the game in 2015 and has won three of the past four contests.
“Putting the USA across the chest, it means so much,” said Ferguson. “They tell us every year, every time I go back – USA Basketball is more than basketball. It’s about the country. It’s our way of representing the country. Soldiers go out and fight for us, and we are fighting on the court. That’s how we put it. It’s more than basketball, though.
“I’m just going out there to have fun and do my part, do the best that we can do to win, just keep the record going. I don’t want to lose, or have my last game with USA Basketball be a loss.”
Don’t miss Ferguson and his USA teammates in the 2016 Nike Hoop Summit and get your tickets now: http://bit.ly/nikehoopsummit