The rapid rise of Dallas Mavericks point guard Yogi Ferrell has an Indiana Wesleyan connection, as Ferrell trained with former Wildcat point guard and current Men’s Basketball Assistant Coach Jonny Marlin.
Ferrell, an undrafted rookie whose stellar play on a 10-day contract led to a 2-year contract with Dallas, played on the same team as Marlin in elementary school and again at Indiana University from 2012 – 2014.
In six games for the Mavericks so far, Ferrell has averaged 16 points and 4.5 assists, highlighted by a 32 point effort against the Portland Trail Blazers on Feb. 7. Marlin said he always knew Ferrell was a special player.
“The attention he drew made everyone else better and there was a calming sense when he was on the court,” Marlin said. “You knew in big moments that he was going to make a play.”
As Ferrell completed his college career at IU, Marlin transferred to IWU and continued to work with basketball players of all skill types with his training company J-Mar Handles.
“It started with two kids [five years ago], then the following with 20, then 40, then 80, and now 120 kids,” Marlin said. “I think sports can be a powerful tool for advancing the kingdom of God and I realized this is an opportunity to combine my two passions: basketball and kids. My ultimate goal is to push kids both spiritually and physically.”
Ferrell and Marlin reconnected over the summer of 2016 when he started training with Marlin and J-Mar Handles.
“He knew that I was working with kids and even some guys who play in Europe so he asked if he could get some work in,” Marlin said. “I guess he liked it because he came back everyday for the rest of the summer. He was a blast to work with because you don’t find guys who are that skilled, that athletic, and want to be great very often.”
Marlin said he was “absolutely floored” when he heard the news that Ferrell had signed a 2-year contract with Dallas.
“I immediately thanked Jesus for the time he has allowed me to work with Yogi and just how his commitment has really paid off,” Marlin said. “I sent him a congratulatory text message and just expressed how happy [and] proud I was.”
Marlin said he’s exchanged text messages with Ferrell a few times since he’s been with the Mavericks and he expects him to continue to succeed in the NBA because of the incredible work ethic he saw firsthand at IU and over the summer.
“Yogi was an unbelievable teammate,” Marlin said. “He was the type of guy you wanted to go to battle with because you knew how bad he wanted to win. Not too many guys play with his energy night in and night out and that is something I admired about Yogi.”