The Naismith Trophy is given annually to the country’s most outstanding player. It is named after Dr. James Naismith, the inventor of basketball.
Ferrell, who in October was named to the Preseason All-Big Ten first team, has averaged 17.1 points, 5.6 assists and 3.6 rebounds per game this season. He has continued his role as the focal point of IU’s game plan on both ends of the floor despite a lowered usage rate, which is how often he’s involved in the play, this season.
Before the season, Ferrell and IU Coach Tom Crean both spoke of a slight transformation of the guard’s role. A season after attempting a program-record 220 3-pointers, Ferrell needed to become more of a ?facilitator.
Too often last season, the ball stuck in Ferrell’s hands. For IU to work in its new shooters, ball movement was key.
“Coach is going to make you do it, or you won’t even be in the game,” Ferrell said at Big Ten Media Day on Oct. 16. “Coach is always talking about moving the ball.”
Crean said his star guard needed to keep his teammates involved while maintaining his own production. Through seven games, Ferrell has done that.
Ferrell is taking 23.7 percent of IU’s shots this season, down from his 27.9 percent rate last season. With the scoring burden no longer solely on his shoulders, Ferrell has found his teammates more often this season, tallying almost two more assists per game than last season.
As a result of his altered role, Ferrell’s efficiency statistics have skyrocketed. A ?season after shooting 41 percent from the field and 40 percent from 3-point range, Ferrell’s numbers have improved to 47.5 percent and 46 percent, respectively.
Defensively, he has solidified his position as one of the most effective defenders in the Big Ten.
Crean often calls the 6-foot Ferrell his team’s best post defender and one of its most difficult one-on-one matchups in practice. Often undersized, Ferrell uses his quickness and instincts to lock down his man.
In February, Crean assigned Ferrell to guard 6-foot-6 Michigan guard Nik Stauskas. Ferrell held the eventual Big Ten Player of the Year to just six points on 1-of-6 shooting in IU’s upset win.
“We have nobody that’s defending with the intent that he’s defending, at the level he defends,” Crean said. “He can defend anybody. That’s why I think he’s one of the better guards in the country on both sides of the ball.”
The Naismith Trophy Watch List will be trimmed to 30 players in February.