Yogi Ferrell Back in Indiana During Halt in NBA Season
Next Wednesday will be the four-week mark of when the NBA suspended their season indefinitely due to the COVID-19 breakout across the United States. It's thrown the league and the fans into disarray, not to mention the players.
"This is the most all NBA players have been in the dark about anything," Yogi Ferrell told The Big Lead during a phone interview.
Ferrell, a fourth-year player for the Sacramento Kings, was in the midst of a playoff run in the Western Conference before the season halted. The Kings went on a hot streak after the All-Star break and found themselves just 3.5 games behind the Memphis Grizzlies for the 8th and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. If the NBA season were to resume, they would be one of the teams that would by prying for the NBA to finish out at the regular season as opposed to just starting the playoffs.
"If they do bring it back, I hope they would format it to where those teams that are right in the playoff hunt would be able to earn their way," Ferrell said.
As for Ferrell's day-to-day activities, he has been back home in Indiana the last two weeks and spending time at his mother's house. She has a basketball hoop outside where he'll go through ball-handling drills, get shots up, and use dumbbells to work out. Ferrell doubles as the man who will go to the grocery store if they need anything.
However, the trip that got him back to his home state of Indiana from Sacramento was not an easy one.
"I flew commercial," he said. "I wore everything though; the mask, the gloves, I was very prepared."
On top of everything, his initial planned flight to Indiana got canceled.
"I had to catch a different flight and then I had to catch an Uber from Chicago to Indiana," he said. Ultimately, his unexpected itinerary was a flight from Sacramento to Denver, Denver to Chicago, and then the Uber to Indiana.
Ferrell and the Kings were the second domino to fall after Rudy Gobert tested positive. He and his teammates were warming up that fateful Wednesday evening before a national TV game with the New Orleans Pelicans, who were nowhere to be seen. Then everyone found out the season had been abruptly halted, and they had to clear the court to go back to the locker room.
"It was a weird time, getting ready to play, had to switch our mindset a little bit," he said.
In the first week of the aftermath, Ferrell stayed in Sacramento to keep getting work in. At that time, the Kings' practice facility was still allowed to remain open. However, the team would later get a text from their athletic trainer letting them know the facility would close. At that point, he decided the best plan would be to go back home to Indiana to work out and spend the free time with family.
While it's been much rockier in recent weeks, his path to this point wasn't easy to begin with. As Indiana's lead point guard during his college years, he had one of the most prestigious careers for the Hoosiers in their deep history and the best since Hall of Famer Isaiah Thomas. However, standing at six feet even, those at the professional level had their doubts about how his game would translate. After leading the Hoosiers to the Sweet 16 in his senior season and averaging over 17 points and five assists per game, he went undrafted in the 2016 NBA Draft.
He ended up in Brooklyn with the Nets, but he was waived just ten games into his rookie season. But it didn't discourage him, and when the Dallas Mavericks gave him a chance in 2016-17, he put together one of the more impressive rookie seasons among his first-year peers in the NBA that season. In 43 games, he averaged 10.0 points and 3.7 assists per game while he shot nearly 39% from three-point range.
"For me to even be in the NBA is a blessing itself," he said. "Someone like my size, only so many guys in the world, and to be able to be there is something special. "
Even now, as he's approaching veteran status at 26-years-old with four years under his belt, the mindset and work ethic won't be leaving him.
"I feel like even I'm still out there trying to prove myself every single day to show that I belong in this league," he said. "And still every single day trying to establish myself, and I'm up for the challenge, I like the challenge in itself, trying to go out there and prove people wrong and make them go back on their word. I know I have many more years in the league, but it's been fun, though."
Sometimes going from superstar high school and college player to a role player in the NBA can set players back. Ferrell instead enjoys the journey of having to work for everything he gets.
"There's beauty in the grind itself," he said. "When you just get lost in the grind, and you don't worry about anything else, and you just let your work speak for itself that's more satisfying in my eyes than going out and just having everything handed to you."
Overall, he would love to get back to playing NBA basketball this season but knows that safety is first. In the meantime, he will continue working out, spending time with family, going to the grocery store and playing his favorite games (Call of Duty, FIFA, and Madden) on Xbox.