Ferguson leads GSU from the sidelines

Robert Huitt

Senior forward Eric Ferguson has found ways to impact the Georgia Southern University men’s basketball team despite his absence from the court this season.

Ferguson is sitting out this season as a medical redshirt to rehab from a knee injury he suffered last year.

“It has been an ongoing injury I’ve had in my knee, so I decided to go ahead and have surgery on it last summer and everything came out fine,” Ferguson said.

Ferguson led the Eagles in points and rebounds last season, averaging 13.5 points and 6.2 rebounds per game. The team misses his production on the court, but Ferguson has found other ways to help the team.

“[I help them by] being vocal, showing leadership off the court and being able to tell my teammates what they’re doing right, what they’re doing wrong,” Ferguson said. “I just continue to support them and stay positive.”

Ferguson can be seen at games pointing out things to his teammates as they come to the bench, especially younger players like freshman forward Kyle Doyle.

“I just show them things that they don’t see while they’re on the court because you see more off the court than somebody actually playing in the game,” Ferguson said.

Oftentimes, fans see a player return from an injury but are unaware of the hard work that was required to reach that point. Rehabbing an injury can be a long, arduous process that is a test of physical strength and patience.

“It’s very tough coming to every game dressed in a suit and tie knowing I’m supposed to be out there supporting my team,” Ferguson said. “Sitting on the sideline, it’s hard to do.”

Instead of just being frustrated with sitting on the sidelines, Ferguson has observed some ways to improve his game when he makes his eventual return to action. He said he will be better at getting his shots off, making decisions and handling traps and double-teams.

Ferguson was born and raised in Statesboro and his parents went to GSU, but the decision to lace them up for the Eagles wasn’t always set in stone. After his godfather, Charlton “C.Y.” Young, was hired as  the head coach of the basketball program in 2009, the decision was made easier.

“To be honest, I never thought I’d play here because I had so many offers from major schools,” Ferguson said. “After coming down here, I really enjoyed it and it was the perfect situation for me.”

Ferguson has a positive relationship with new Head Coach Mark Byington. He said Byington has been supportive during his rehabilitation and has encouraged him to develop into a player to lead the program next year.

Ferguson said, “I should come back stronger and better than the last three years I’ve been here.