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Yogi Ferrell’s strange road to stardom
Posted By HOOPSWORLD On February 22, 2013 @ 2:00 pm In Wirenews | Comments Disabled
by Zak Keefer, USA TODAY Sports
BLOOMINGTON, IND. — What does a father do when his son’s head begins to swell, a mushrooming ego overwhelming his youthful ambition?
I want to be the best, Yogi used to tell his dad. I want to be No. 1.
And then, not yet a teenager, he became what he sought: The best.
In 2004 The Hoop Scoop, a college basketball scouting service, ranked him as the top fourth-grade player in the country. That prompted a front-page story in The Indianapolis Star. First, his family laminated it. Then they framed it.
Then he became a target.
He knows that now, as the freshman point guard piloting No. 1-ranked Indiana through the Big Ten gauntlet. He knows because he learned it back then, when opposing players entered the gym determined to outshine The Kid Ranked No. 1, when middle school defenses were designed to stop him, when an absurd ranking did far more harm than good.
It was the worst of the AAU grassroots machine, all its premature pressure thrust onto a 10-year-old kid who still watched cartoons.
That’s when Kevin Ferrell, Sr., began to see it in his son. The things Yogi used to say – Come on dad, let’s go to the gym. Let’s go play – he didn’t hear as often. The drive was declining.
“You’re not nobody,” Yogi’s younger brother, Kaleb, told him during an argument one day.
“Google me,” Yogi replied flatly.
His dad laughed. That’s when he knew. Knew it was all too much too soon.
“He was walking around with an air, with a different persona,” Kevin Sr. remembers. “He wasn’t as focused as he once was.”
His son needed a break. Yogi needed to be a kid again.
The hype machine
It’s happened before. The Hoop Scoop tagged Demetrius Walker, age 14, as the nation’s best eighth grader. His talent was raw, the hype real, the pressure immense.
Walker wore a target from an all-too early age, and he could never live up to it.
Those trials, which Sports Illustrated’s George Dohrmann spent eight years documenting for his best selling book “Play Their Hearts Out,” could have been Ferrell’s trials.
Walker had a self-interested coach who ignored fundamentals, sidestepping player … [For more on Yogi Ferrell's strange road to stardom, click here.]
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