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NBA PM: OKC’s Terrance Ferguson Remains A Man Of Mystery

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One of the most mysterious players entering the 2017-18 NBA season is Oklahoma City Thunder wing Terrance Ferguson, a freakishly-athletic player who was the last of this summer’s first round draft picks to sign an NBA contract. Ferguson decided to skip college to play professionally for the Adelaide 36ers of Australia’s National Basketball League. Possibly due to buyout negotiations with the 36ers, Ferguson wasn’t able to obtain clearance to sign with the Thunder from FIBA — basketball’s international governing body — until about two weeks ago.

As a result of playing overseas rather than in the NCAA last season — and because the hold up with his FIBA clearance prevented him from playing in NBA Summer League — Ferguson might be the first round pick we know the least about. The first thing to know is that he’s ecstatic to have been drafted by his home-state Thunder after growing up in Tulsa in a family of Thunder fans.

“The whole building went crazy,” Ferguson told Thunder radio voice Matt Pinto of his private gathering with family and friends to watch the NBA Draft. “We all just put our heads down and [were] full of tears, but it was a very exciting moment. It’s a full circle as you come back home, play for my home team. It’s crazy that I’m actually here right now.”

That full circle included a trip around the globe to play professionally in Australia. Ferguson takes a dim view of the NCAA and told reporters at a pre-draft workout in Charlotte that he actively encourages other players to skip college and get paid for what they do.

“Most one and done players, you’re only going to spend a couple months at the college,” said Ferguson. “You have to do school work [and] all this other stuff. You go overseas, you’re going to spend the same amount of months, but you’re going to be focusing straight on basketball.

“I feel like more players should do it. At college, the only person who is making money off you is the coaches. You’re not making anything off of jersey sales, off of ticket sales. You’re not making anything. So, go overseas — or go anywhere — and just make your money for it. Get paid for what you’re doing.”

The byproduct of Ferguson playing in relative obscurity in Australia, then missing summer league due to the hold up with his FIBA clearance, is that most NBA fans have barely seen him play. For his part, Ferguson — a player noted for producing highlights in transition with his athleticism — believes he’s found a perfect fit alongside 2016-17 NBA MVP Russell Westbrook.

“The season he had last year, he averaged a triple-double, so he’s going to find open people,” said Ferguson. “The Thunder’s a run and gun team, so I think I can fit in perfectly with it.”

Despite shooting just 31 percent from three-point range in Australia, a former NCAA coach noted for his expertise on shot mechanics told Basketball Insiders that Ferguson’s shot is “textbook.”

“He gets his feet set quickly and doesn’t have any wasted motion in his shot,” said the coach, who asked not to be identified. “I really love that he bounces into his catch and shoot. It’s high and smooth with no wasted motion. His pre-shot setup and readiness are superb. His shot is “sudden,” another way of saying he gets his shot off quickly. He is probably the purest shooter in this draft.”

For a relative unknown who lacks a proven track record of success from three-point distance as a pro, that’s quite a foundation to build on. Ferguson also projects to be able to spend time guarding both guard positions plus small forwards, although he will have to develop on his slight build to avoid getting pushed around at the next level, where everyone is faster and stronger.

Terrance Ferguson remains a mystery due to his non-traditional path to the NBA. But now that his contract situation is settled and he’s back in his home state preparing for training camp, Ferguson is in the perfect situation to reach his potential as an NBA player.

Make sure to follow Basketball Insiders on Twitter at @BBallInsiders.

About Buddy Grizzard

Buddy Grizzard

Buddy Grizzard has written for ESPN.com and BBallBreakdown and served as an editor for ESPN TrueHoop Network.