How Good Has Yogi Ferrell Been For Indiana?

Ferrell celebrates during the game against Wisconsin. - Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

Indiana has taken a step back this season, but one guy who has not is Yogi Ferrell. How good as Indiana's start sophomore point guard become?

With less than one minute remaining, Yogi Ferrell came up big for Indiana. The Hoosiers led by just 1 point over #3 ranked and undefeated Wisconsin. Josh Gasser had just committed a foul. Ferrell had the opportunity to seal what would be Indiana's first marquee win of the season. Despite great positioning in games against UConn, Notre Dame, and Illinois, the Hoosiers had fallen short. Now was the chance to change the outcome. Yogi's response? Two made free throws. Indiana won the game and Yogi was the hero.

Coming into this season, most figured that Ferrell would be the guy that would lead this young Indiana team. He was the only returning starter off last year's Big Ten championship team and figured to have an increased role in the offense. The biggest questions revolved around how he would perform with more usage. It's one thing to be an offense's 4th or 5th option, but another thing to be the offense's primary threat.

The Hoosiers are just a few games into Big Ten play and those questions have been answered convincingly. Ferrell can take a larger role in the offense and can do it quite effectively. In virtually every major statistical category, Ferrell has taken a major step forward. Here are some of the highlights:

Yogi Ferrell

2012-2013

2013-2014

Minutes Per Game

28.1

31.5

Points Per Game

7.6

17.9

Assists Per Game

4.1

4.2

Rebounds Per Game

2.8

3.0

Free Throw Percentage

79.8%

83.1%

3PT Percentage

30.3%

41.7%

Assist Rate

25.7%

28.0%

Usage Rate

17.0%

26.4%

Efficiency Rate

13.0

21.1

Win Shares Per 40

.131

.207

Literally, there is a jump in every one of those categories. What is even more telling about several of the categories such as assists and assist rate is that the players surrounding him have taken significant steps back. Sure, they have talent, but when you're comparing them to Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo, it's going to be hard to match. Ferrell is literally putting up better numbers with weaker surrounding pieces. If there's one thing that tells you he has improved this year, that should be it.

However, it's not just Ferrell getting better than he has been from last season. He is the best player on Indiana's roster right now. Some may argue that freshman star Noah Vonleh could make a case, but when you break things down it just isn't true. Vonleh's contributions to the team may be more crucial, but that's mainly because Indiana doesn't have a great big man to replace him. Ferrell's contributions are so important because he has been crazy productive. Ferrell's is the team's best scorer, assist man, and the team's best outside shooter. When you are doing those kind of things, it's hard to argue that any player is more productive for the team.

What is perhaps even more telling is that Ferrell could be performing at the highest level of any point guard in the Big Ten right now. There is clearly an argument considering the performances of Roy Devyn Marble, Keith Appling, and Aaron Craft, but Ferrell is putting up great numbers and is the center of his team's entire offense. Honestly, if Indiana had a few more wins this year, he would probably be receiving way more attention right now.

Even if Ferrell is not the Big Ten's best point guard, his rise has been tremendous. Indiana is certainly not the same team as they were last year, but one change that Hoosier fans would not give back is the improvement they have seen in Ferrell this year. If the team continues to progress, look for Ferrell to be the key guy.

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