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Arizona basketball: Five-star recruit Terrance Ferguson officially skips college to play professionally overseas

New+commit+Terrance+Ferguson+shoots+the+ball+during+a+high+school+basketball+game+in+his+hometown%2C+Dallas.+Ferguson+committed+to+Arizona+on+Wednesday+and+brings+a+quality+3-point+shot.+
Kelly Kline
New commit Terrance Ferguson shoots the ball during a high school basketball game in his hometown, Dallas. Ferguson committed to Arizona on Wednesday and brings a quality 3-point shot.

Arizona basketball’s highly-ranked 2016 recruiting class and Final Four aspirations have taken a considerable hit.

Five-star recruit Terrance Ferguson, the No. 11 recruit on ESPN’s Top 100 and the top-rated player in Arizona’s recruiting class, has decided to play professionally overseas instead of enrolling at the UA, he announced Thursday on PlayersTribune.com.

“Terrance Ferguson informed me earlier this week that he has decided to pursue professional opportunities instead of attending the University of Arizona this fall,” Arizona head coach Sean Miller said in a statement. “I hope this next chapter of his basketball career goes well, and his goal of one day becoming an NBA player is realized.”

The 6-foot-7 guard wrote that he will be signing with the Adelaide 36ers of the National Basketball League in Australia.

“You probably know that [this] wasn’t the original plan,” Ferguson wrote. “This fall, I was supposed to be playing for the University of Arizona. But when life gives you an opportunity like this, you can’t pass it up!”

There was concern that Ferguson would not be able to academically qualify to play at Arizona, but it appears as if that wasn’t a major factor in his decision to head overseas.
“An injury or a bad year can ruin your career,” Ferguson wrote, “and I’m trying to take care of my family.”

RELATED: Undrafted Wildcats can follow T.J. McConnell’s path to the NBA

It’s widely assumed that Ferguson will spend a year overseas and then enter the 2017 NBA Draft when eligible.

Ferguson believes that playing professionally—rather than against college players—is best for his development as a player.

“In terms of development, players from overseas are further along than players here,” he wrote. “Just look at the last NBA Draft. In college, you have time limits on your workouts, you have class, you have so many other things taking up your time. Overseas, you’re on your own, playing in a grown man’s league. You’re working out twice a day, just focusing on basketball.”

Ferguson added that he believes the focused training regimen of the overseas players will help him when he decides to come play in the U.S.

”If I get that many hours, with my talent, my athleticism, my game, my mindset, I can be one of the best players in the nation,” Ferguson wrote. “I can be a top draft pick.”

For the Wildcats, the loss of Ferguson is a significant hit to the team’s overall talent level, as Ferguson would have provided athleticism and a smooth shooting stroke on the perimeter, but it’s not necessarily a death blow to Arizona’s chance of making it to the Final Four in Glendale, Arizona.

Five-star recruits Rawle Alkins and Kobi Simmons will bolster the team’s backcourt, while the return of Allonzo Trier, who is expected to take a significant leap as a second-year player, will give the Wildcats a steady—and potentially dominant—scoring option on the perimeter.

Ray Smith, a former five-star recruit known for his athleticism, will provide even more depth on the wing and the front court as he returns from a torn ACL, which forced him to miss his freshman season.

RELATED: Allonzo Trier will be key for revamped Wildcats in 2016-17

Arizona also added junior college transfer Keanu Pinder. Pinder isn’t the same type of shooter as Ferguson, but he might be able to fill the void defensively that Ferguson left. Pinder, who played for Hutchinson Community College in Kansas before arriving in Tucson, was the Jayhawk Defensive Player of the Year last season.

All in all, Ferguson’s departure is unfortunate for Arizona. Any time a team loses a five-star talent, it hurts, but Sean Miller and company are also well-equipped to compensate for it.

Still, there’s no doubt the team has encountered a bump on the road to Glendale.


Follow Ryan Kelapire on Twitter


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