Yogi Ferrell: Not your average NBA player

He stepped off the plane in Dallas on Saturday, hours before he was about to play a game…for another team.

Sunday he helped the Dallas Mavericks to a 105-101 victory over the San Antonio Spurs. A day later – and while leading the team in minutes played – he was instrumental in their 104-97 defeat of the defending champs Cleveland Cavaliers.

Welcome Kevin “Yogi’ Ferrell, the new talk of not just Dallas, but the basketball sports world as the undrafted player with high energy, a big heart, no fear and the nickname of a popular cartoon character.

“My mom gave me that name because I like to eat,” he explained.

In bad need of a point guard after injuries to Deron Williams and JJ Barea, the Mavs signed Ferrell to a 10-day contract on Saturday. Ferrell started at the Spurs and finished with 9 points, 7 assists and with less than 8 seconds to go in the game, knocked down two free throws to complete the win.

Monday he made his second straight start at point guard and posted new career highs for points (19), rebounds (5), steals (4) and minutes (38) against the Cavaliers. He 
also added three assists.

In both games with the Mavs, Ferrell is averaging 14.0 points, 3.5 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 3.0 steals in 36.5 minutes per game. He has 
committed only two turnovers in 73 minutes of action with Dallas.

Not too shabby for a guy who was hours away from playing a game for another team.

“When I got the call from my agent, I was about to play a D-league game that night. About 5 or 6 hours before, my agent calls me and said the Mavericks are going to sign you to a 10-day,” Ferrell said. “They flew me right to Dallas immediately. I got here the same night and had to prep for the game the next night in San Antonio.

“I had to flip mindsets quickly and I feel like Coach Carlisle and the guys on the team have been preparing me well,” he continued. “I get the confidence from those guys to go out there and when that happens, the sky is the limit.”

The sky is certainly the limit on Ferrell who (listed as 6-0, 180) went undrafted in the 2016 NBA Draft and signed as a free agent with the Brooklyn Nets on Nov. 9, 2016. The point guard saw action in 10 games and averaged 5.4 points, 1.7 assists and 1.2 rebounds in 15.1 minutes per contest before being waived on Dec. 8, 2016.

Most recently, Ferrell has been with the Long Island Nets of the NBA Development League. In 18 games (all starts) with Long Island, he averaged 18.7 points, 5.8 assists, 2.9 rebounds and 35.7 minutes per game. His 5.8 assists per contest ranked eighth in the D-League among qualifiers and he scored a season-high 34 points against the Delaware 87ers on Dec. 30.

But no one came calling until the Mavericks. And now he seems to have hit his groove – at the same time giving the Mavs much-needed life, energy, fierceness and making the team fun to watch again.

“I love Yogi,” said Dwaine Thompson, a Dallas teacher and MFFL. “He brings another dimension to the team.”

Said Dirk Nowtizki of Yogi, “He seems fearless.”

Yogi himself feels the ‘it factor” he has brought back to Dallas.

“I am doing great. I am on cloud nine right now. We just got two very great back-to-back wins so I am feeling pretty good,” he said. “I am living the dream right now. I couldn’t be doing it with a better group of guys right here. It is a great organization and I love this place.”

Coach Carlisle said he and the coaching staff “were very surprised” that Ferrell went undrafted. “He’s very persistent. This shows the importance of point guards in this league, playmaking and energy – positive energy.”

“He had two great nights and he deserves this,” Carlisle continued. “He’s a kid who has worked extremely hard. This is great for him and it’s a great opportunity for the next few days.”

Ferrell is known for his basketball IQ and feels his time in college at Indiana University – Owner Mark Cuban’s alma mater – is partly the reason why. “I’m a student of the game. I like to learn it. I like to watch it. Film is the best thing for me. I can see it and apply it on the court.

I’m from a program where basketball IQ is everything,” he said. “With the years I had in college, it helped prepare me for this level.”

Hopefully this level will last a lot longer than that 10-day contract.

The Dallas Mavericks next game is Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. at the American Airlines Center.

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