Player review: Jamal Ferguson

Jamal Ferguson got lost in Marquette's depth in 2012-'13. (USA Today Images)

Jamal Ferguson got lost in Marquette’s depth in 2012-’13. (USA Today Images)

Previous Player Breakdowns: Juan AndersonVander Blue, Junior Cadougan

What he did well: Jamal Ferguson entered his freshman season knowing playing time would be scarce. Playing behind starters Vander Blue and Trent Lockett, and sitting behind Jake Thomas and Todd Mayo (the second half of the season) on the bench left little room for him to break the rotation, and he finished the season with just 65 minutes under his belt.

While it’s hard to discern what he did and did not do well in that short a time span, a few things jumped out when we went back and looked at the tape. The first was that the 6-foot-5 wing is a terrific slasher. Even as far back as Midnight Madness,  his impressive athleticism was on display. All six of his field goals this year were on layups (three) or floaters around the basket (three). He has an excellent handle and solid size, but it’s clear another offseason in the weight room will serve him well.

Ferguson was also a solid defender, as his opponents shot 6-for-17 from the field. His sneaky quickness helped him, and his rebounding was excellent for his role and minutes. If this sounds extreme for a guy who played in just 14 games, compare Ferguson’s freshman statistics to Juan Anderson’s a year ago.


True, Anderson played in 21 games his freshman year, including against Big East opponents where statistics were harder to come by (Ferguson played just five times in conference play). But this should still give some perspective to those who believe Ferguson is a lost cause, destined to transfer out or rot on the bench simply because he sat behind an All-Big East performer and a three-year starter. There’s a reason Georgetown went at him hard even after he committed to Marquette prior to his senior year. There’s talent here.


What he could have done better: That isn’t to say the Norfolk native, who Marquette first discovered while recruiting Davante Gardner, didn’t have his faults. When we spoke to him in October he said the one area of his game he worked on most was his outside shooting. Well, in the 65 minutes he logged he did not even attempt a 3-pointer and was 0-for-2 on jump shots. His form isn’t poor and he shot both jumpers with confidence, but if you’re looking for a reason why this skilled switchable didn’t see the court more often, it’s because the only way he was going to play was if he could help from beyond the arc, and that wasn’t the case.

This is a bit of a smaller improvement, but Ferguson tended to play much better in transition. That’s not all that uncommon for a slashing guard, but the minutes we watched on Synergy showed a more uncomfortable player in halfcourt sets. That’s not to say he wasn’t picking up the offense, but he wasn’t moving particularly well without the ball in his minutes. Again, this is a tiny fix that will improve in his sophomore season, but it’s something we’d like to see more of.

Best performance: It should come as no surprise that Ferugson’s best performance–Nov. 26 against UMBC–came when Vander Blue sat with a knee injury. Trent Lockett got the start in that game (Jamil Wilson moved to small forward) and Jake Thomas played 21 minutes. With Todd Mayo still ineligible, that left 16 minutes off the bench for Ferguson, who made the most of his biggest opportunity of his freshman season.

He finished with four points, three assists and three rebounds in the blowout win, with a steal-and-dunk and two free throws off a fast-break foul earning him those points. He was solid in transition, fed open scorers in the paint and was aggressive on the boards. He did commit two turnovers (one charge), but it was an impressive performance on the heels of a 14-minute, four-point effort six days earlier against Mississippi State in Maui.

Worst performance: It’s tough to find a game where Ferguson was “bad,” considering he appeared in 14 games for spot-duty. But we found one where he could have showed some improvement/progress.

In Marquette’s second game of the year, Ferguson logged four minutes, checking in three different times, yet didn’t shoot, grabbed one rebound and committed two fouls and a turnover. Blue (28 minutes) and Thomas (14 minutes) didn’t play much, meaning Ferguson had the chance to show some aggressiveness and show off his outside range. He didn’t get that chance, struggling in his limited minutes.

2013-14 outlook: For many fans there seems to be the instant correlation between not playing as a freshman and immediately transferring out because of it. It would shock me if Ferguson and/or Marquette decided to call it quits as a Golden Eagle after just one year where he sat behind some ultra-talented and more experienced players. The potential is there–Ferguson was a top-100 recruit on most lists–for him to succeed, and another year in the system should help give him the nod early in the season over the likes of incoming freshmen Jajuan Johnson, Deonte Burton and John Dawson.

With Lockett and Thomas out of the picture, plenty of minutes are opening up on the wing. We compared Ferguson’s and Anderson’s similar freshman years, so it’s not out of the question to think Ferguson may post those same numbers as a sophomore (Anderson averaged 13.0 minutes this year).

He’ll undoubtedly need to continue improving (or show off) his outside shot. His slashing and touch around the basket have him ready for Big East play, but after coming in as a project he’ll need to hone in his raw talent (much like Anderson) into a basketball player Marquette can use in spurts.

Buzz Williams told the Journal Sentinel’s Michael Hunt in January that Ferguson was improving but, with 12 players at his disposal, it became almost impossible for him to find time for his freshman on a team fighting for a Big East title.

The future is still bright for Ferguson, and his improvement will be as exciting as anyone’s to watch this offseason and into 2013-’14. IF, and this is purely speculative, he decides to go elsewhere, expect a successful career from the talented wing. If it happens at Marquette, all the better for the Golden Eagles.

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Categories: 2012-13 Review, Analysis, Home, Player Review


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2 Comments on “Player review: Jamal Ferguson”

  1. September 30, 2013 at 9:56 am #

    Any bad comments towards Ferguson are only haters because you all know that young man can play bal and good. Its Marquette lost not his…


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