An Undrafted Point Guard, Yogi Ferrell Found a Niche in the NBA
It is a story all too familiar to Toronto Raptors fans.
Yogi Ferrell, a 26-year old undersized point guard followed a similar path to the NBA as that of Fred VanVleet.
Two collegiate stars who remained in college through their senior years. One made a name for himself at the University of Indiana, while another at Wichita State. Two diminutive point guards who do not possess the skillset of your prototypical point guard. Most importantly, two men who went an entire NBA Draft without hearing their names called back in June of 2016.
“It’s all about just believing in yourself,” Ferrell told us following a nail-biting 124-120 Raptors victory over the Sacramento Kings back on November 6. “As Fred always says, bet on yourself and your abilities. Guys like us who go undrafted, we have nothing to lose so we go out there every night, every day and just try and strive and prove that we belong in this league.”
Despite going undrafted, Ferrell did not call it quits and received his chance to prove himself with an invitation to the NBA’s Summer League from the Brooklyn Nets. He averaged 8.8 points in four games and ultimately signed a contract with the team, being reassigned to the Nets’ G-League affiliate the Long Island Nets.
After being released from the Nets, Ferrell got his first real shot in the NBA with the Dallas Mavericks, a team that decided to give him a 10-day contract and allow him to showcase what he can do on the basketball floor.
Ferrell turned into a revelation, scoring 19 points in his second game with his new team, helping the Mavs secure a 104-97 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers. Two days later, he dropped a career-high 32 points in a win over the Portland Trailblazers, becoming only the third undrafted rookie to post a 30 point game within his first 15 career NBA games.
“You always play with a chip on your shoulder,” explained Ferrell. “Even guys like us who were undrafted, undersized guards in this league, we’ll always have a chip on our shoulder. We just got to go out there and prove something.”
He was named the NBA’s Rookie of the Month for February and cracked the All-Rookie Second Team. Very early into his tenure with the Mavericks, Ferrell received exactly what he worked so hard to earn – a multi-year deal with the organization.
Similar to VanVleet, Ferrell followed a rare path to establish himself as a legitimate NBA player.
“I haven’t spoken to him in a while,” said Ferrell on whether he had recently spoken to VanVleet. “But we actually had a pre-draft workout together in Washington and we were just talking about how we both deserved to be in this league. We both play hard, we’ve had strong college careers and here we are.
When we asked Ferrell what impressed him about VanVleet back when they did their pre-draft workouts together, he answered: “Just his IQ on the court, his competitiveness, the way he went out there and was just very aggressive.”
After two years with the Mavericks, Ferrell went onto join the Kings.
It is truly a story of inspiration. No one believed Ferrell would get a consistent spot on an NBA roster, let alone a shot, but four years later, Ferrell is an NBA veteran.
“Never give up,” Ferrell said to Gad Elmaleh of BallnRoll on what his words of advice would be to other collegiate players who were in a similar position as him”All you got to do is find that one team that loves you. That one organization that you fit in with very well and from there, the sky’s the limit.”
Bet on yourself!