By Randy Renner, Senior Writer
Naturally no one has much of anything bad to say about someone they’ve just invested a lot of time and money into and Thunder GM Sam Presti was no different when he spoke to reporters around midnight Friday morning after taking Tulsa native Terrance Ferguson with the 21st pick in the 2017 NBA Draft.
“I think the fact that there isn't one specific thing is really the reason why we were attracted to him as a player,” Presti said when asked what about Ferguson made him stand out. “At his size and length, he's able to play both sides of the ball, but he also has the speed that I think is really important with our team.”
Ferguson is just 19 years old but he’s packed a lot of experience into that time.
After moving from Tulsa to Dallas he played on a couple of elite prep academy teams and became a McDonald’s High School All-American. He played on teams that won three gold medals for USA Basketball’s youth squads.
Then instead of going to Arizona, where he had committed, he opted to sign a pro offer from Adelaide in Australia’s National Basketball League.
“Obviously it's rare to find a player at his age that has the experience that he's gained by being in different environments,” Presti pointed out. “The USA Basketball experience he's had, the success he's had there, and obviously overseas experience in Australia.”
“He has a speed, a size, a length, athleticism, obviously an ability to shoot the ball from range that makes him an exciting piece to bring into the organization and continue to help grow.”
And he will need to grow in more ways than one. Physically his 6-7 frame needs more muscle, at just under 190 pounds he’s a tad skinny right now. That may have been a reason why his stats fell off a cliff the second half of the season in Australia. He had started strong (making 39 percent of his 3-point shots) but struggled toward the end.
And though his experiences have been varied, he didn’t get a lot of playing time in Australia. He probably could have played twice the minutes per game at Arizona as he did with the Adelaide 36ers.
Still though Presti sees plenty of bright spots with Ferguson.
“Any time we draft any player, we're not drafting a player for where he is today,” Presti reminded. “We're also drafting a player because we feel like we want to walk hand-in-hand with them through their development. This is really a beginning point.”
Ferguson is expected to be at the Thunder facility on Friday for his physical exam and to sign paperwork, meet the rest of the staff and start working. He will likely be officially introduced during a news conference Saturday morning.
Ferguson then will get a chance to show what he can do against other NBA draft picks and prospects at the Orlando Summer League which begins play on July 1st.