Terrance Ferguson was a five-star prospect that was committed to play college basketball at both Alabama and, later, Arizona. In the end, though, the talented swingman elected to pursue the professional basketball route by signing with the Adelaide 36ers in Australia and, less than a year later, Ferguson appears poised to be selected as a first round pick in the 2017 NBA Draft.
In a recent interview with Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer, Ferguson did not hold back when discussing the option that he chose to make money in his first year after high school instead of playing college hoops for free.
“At college, the only people making money off you are the coaches. 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.”
Ferguson certainly isn’t the first or only person to arrive at the thought process that playing sports for free isn’t as good as getting paid for similar work. However, he is the next in an increasingly long line of players that could be pursuing this angle. Brandon Jennings, who continues to function as an NBA point guard, paved the way in some respects and, for as much as Adam Silver and the NBA have made noise about a potential change, the one-and-done movement is still a reality.
Beyond the workforce issue that is absolutely in play, Ferguson also argued that he is now “more prepared” to enter the NBA than the other players in his high school class that spent a few months on college campuses.
“I’m way more prepared than any college player. 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.”
“Most one-and-done players are only going to spend a couple of months in college. 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.”
The word “epidemic” has been used in association with players like Jennings, Ferguson and Emmanuel Mudiay electing to forego one year of college to make money on the hardwood. At this point, though, the number of players who have successfully navigated this strategy is low enough to where the NCAA probably isn’t terribly worried. With the advent of two-way NBA contracts and the newly invigorated buzz surrounding rule changes, though, players might be more willing to follow in Ferguson’s footsteps and that is even more likely should he succeed in the league.