Loeliger: Ferguson pick vindicates NBL

NBL CEO Jeremy Loeliger believes Terrance Ferguson’s first-round selection in the NBA draft is a massive endorsement for the local Australian league.

Ferguson spent the 2016/17 season with the Adelaide 36ers, averaging 4.6 points and 1.2 rebounds per game, while constantly flashing his immense potential and athletic ability. The Tulsa native was drafted by the Oklahoma City Thunder with the 21st pick, where he will team up with superstar Russell Westbrook.

Ferguson’s draft stock didn’t take a hit, despite bypassing college for the NBL, creating a path that others could follow in the future.

“The fact he was taken at number 21 vindicates [the NBL],” Loeliger told SEN radio.

“We actually had a very senior scout come from every one of the NBA clubs to Australia this year to watch NBL games, and the important by-product of that was that while they came to see Terrance, they also ended up seeing Nathan Sobey, Mitch Creek and Majok Majok. As a result, they’re playing in the NBA Summer League this July as well.

“I think everyone is starting to realise that we are not all talk. We are one of the best leagues in the world, we have one of the best training and development regimes in the world and it is not just there to benefit Australians.

“There is talent coming from everywhere to try and reap the rewards.”

Loeliger also argued the merits of coming to the NBL instead of going to college, believing stronger benefits exist down under.

“Rather than heading to the NCAA, Terrance elected to come and play his only year before the draft in the NBL instead,” he said.

“The theory behind it was to play against men. To demonstrate that he isn’t a kid anymore, so what’s the point of going to college for a year to play against kids you’re already better than, when you’re already going to nominate for the draft 12 months later?

“You don’t really get much of the educational benefit, you can’t get money for it. Why not come down and train with some of the best coaches in the world and play against some of the best players in the world, and get some money for it.”