The highly-touted 2016 Arizona Wildcats recruiting class lost arguably its greatest asset this week when Terrance Ferguson informed Sean Miller that he will not attend college and pursue professional opportunities.
"Terrance Ferguson informed me earlier this week that he has decided to pursue professional opportunities instead of attending the University of Arizona this fall," 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."
"I've played against a lot of guys from overseas, and I've heard about how many hours they put in," Ferguson wrote. "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. I can be a top draft pick."
"It was intriguing, really intriguing. At first I was going to turn them down, even though it sounded so good."
This is the same path that Emmanuel Mudiay took after attending the same "school" as Ferguson. Mudiay ended up being the 7th overall pick in the draft after playing a year in China.
"Luckily, I knew someone who had gone through this the year before: Emmanuel Mudiay," Ferguson continues. "He played in China instead of playing for a year at SMU. He said I had an amazing opportunity, and that my situation was actually even better. That really got me thinking even harder about that offer!"
It’s also not the first time that Arizona has dealt with a similar situation. Brandon Jennings was committed to the U of A, but then opted to play in Italy for a season before being the 10th overall pick by the Milwaukee Bucks.
I’m honestly surprised that this doesn’t happen more often. With the NBA forcing players to wait a season after graduating from high school before they can enter the draft, it seems like the better, more mature players would almost be better off going overseas to make money for a year rather than playing for free in college.
In Ferguson's words:
Maybe you think I'm crazy — crazy for passing up on the college experience, the parties, playing at one of the best schools in the country, being the big man on campus.
Honestly, I don't need all that. I think some guys get it into their heads that college is everything, that going to Duke or North Carolina or whatever is an automatic ticket to the NBA. But anything can happen. Nobody really thinks about that. An injury or a bad year can ruin your career, and I'm trying to take care of my family.
I was incredibly grateful to coach Miller and coach Richardson, but my choice was obvious.
No, I won't get to hear thousands of fans scream "Bear down!" I won't get to play for a national championship. I won't be at the massive parties or experience the college lifestyle.
But I get to be with my family. I get to make sure my mom never works again. I get to keep my promise.