Yogi Ferrell discusses his camp, being a free agent, and what he expects in Sacramento

Yogi Ferrell, Sacramento Kings, Park Tudor School

After his annual basketball camp concluded, campers ranging from 8 to 16 years old lined up in the cafeteria hallway for one last moment of one-on-one time with Yogi Ferrell.

Each camper went through the line, wrapping up with one familiar kid offering a special gift for Yogi: several Sacramento Kings hats, the first Kings gear of any kind for the NBA guard who reached agreement with the team on a two-year, $6.2 million deal Friday afternoon.

“I will always remember that kid,” Ferrell, sporting a big smile, said a short while later. “He’s a special kid. For him to give me my first Sacramento hat, as you can see, I put it on immediately because I don’t have any Sac gear right now. It was special. It just touched my heart that he was able to give me, and even my family members, a couple of my hats.”

Park Tudor School, Yogi Ferrell, Sacramento Kings, IU Basketball

Camper Eli gave Yogi his first Sacramento Kings hat.

Ferrell returned to Park Tudor, where he won a Class 2A State championship both his junior and senior seasons, to give back to kids in the community. He hosted his annual basketball camp Sunday afternoon where they focused on skills, shooting, and enjoying the game he loves.

“This is something special,” Ferrell said of his camp. “I remember when I was younger going to a lot of older guys’ camps that I looked up to so I just want to make sure it’s all full circle because it’s all about empowering the next generation and just try to make basketball as beautiful of a sports as it can be.”

It also included a special visit from several current members of the IU basketball team: 2018 Indiana Mr. Basketball Romeo Langford, Robert Phinisee, Jake Forrester, Damezi Anderson, Juwan Morgan, and grad transfer Evan Fitzner. Ferrell only played with Morgan, who is entering his senior season, during the 2015-16 season.

“(The campers) were asking me before they even came, ‘Where are the IU guys at? Where are the IU guys?’ At my camp! [laughs] That just shows how excited they were to see them,” he said.

“That just shows how strong the IU connection is. I’m definitely going to try to make it down to a game.”

Of course watching the Hoosiers and attending a game will now be even more difficult living in California, three time zones away. (It also has state income tax, unlike Texas.)

This last week had to be challenging for the Indy product. Uncertain, stressful, frustrating.

Perhaps a whirlwind after Dallas originally tendered a qualifying offer worth $2.9 million for the 2018-19 season, almost double what he earned in his first two NBA seasons combined ($1.75 million). The Mavericks later withdrew the offer, just as they did for Doug McDermott, who later signed a three-year deal with the Pacers.

At the end of last week, Ferrell then agreed to return on a $5.3 million deal over two years … but it was not fully guaranteed and paid him less in his first year than the original qualifying offer. Sacramento entered the picture and one day later, Yogi used his freedom as an unrestricted free agent to find the best deal for him.

“What was intriguing about it was their youth,” Ferrell said of the Kings. “I felt like I could add some value to them and just being another smart guard who can shoot it, is quick, scrappy on the court. And I just add another weapon to the team.”

Park Tudor School, Yogi Ferrell, Sacramento Kings, IU Basketball

Yogi signs a photo for each camper.

The Kings went 27-55 last season and feature a young core. They used the second overall pick in June to draft forward Marvin Bagley III, joining guards De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield, Bogdan Bogdanovic, and Frank Mason III.

“They are team that doesn’t really have an identity yet, so I want to go in and try to mold that identity. Whatever it’s going to be. I haven’t played a game with them yet so I don’t know what it could be, but I’m really excited. It’s just another opportunity for me to go in, prove myself in this league, prove that I belong, and just to have fun with it.”

This was Yogi’s first taste of free agency and he certainly learned how basketball is a business, and so business decisions must be made — from both sides.

“I learned about all the ins and outs and how everything works,” he said. “I went through my first free agency and it was stressful. I also embraced it at the same time. It was beautiful. I was blessed to be in the position I am to even be a free agent and have different teams calling about me and talking to different teams. I’m starting to now learn about how all this works.”

Ferrell plans to continue to be No. 11 in Sacramento.

Playing almost 28 minutes off the bench for a 24-58 Dallas team last season, Yogi averaged 10.2 points, 3.0 rebounds, and 2.5 assists per game. He shot 42.6 percent from the floor and 37.3 percent from beyond the arc.

While at Park Tudor (2008-12), Ferrell was a two-time First Team All-State, two-time All Marion County Team, and finished with 1,853 career points.

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