Saints fill need with point guard from Bishop Moore, waiting for others
By Michael O’ Donnell
While the Flagler Men’s Basketball team couldn’t manage a win in the NCAA Division II National Independent Tournament, there is reason to believe the Saints are on the right track.
The Saints finished their inaugural season in NCAA Div. II with a 14-13 record after losses to Florida Gulf Coast and the University of District of Columbia in the tournament.
Coach Bo Clark and the rest of the Saints are not worried at all, however. They feel that they are right where they should be and are not far from being just as successful in the NCAA as they were in the NAIA.
“This was definitely a learning experience for everyone on the team,” Clark said. “I am not going to say I was satisfied with our season — content, maybe. We are getting a better sense of the type of players we need for our program, and we are not too far off from where we need to be to start winning consistently again.”
Losing experienced players such as Sam Jozenville, Lee Wise, and Kyle Cregan does not help, but the Saints have already added a key piece to the puzzle.
D.J. Ferguson, a highly talented and highly recruited guard from Bishop Moore High School in Orlando, signed with the Saints earlier this year. and is extremely excited about playing for the Saints next season.
“When I visited Flagler, Coach Clark and Assistant Coach (Jimmy) Link made me feel like I was a special player,” Ferguson said. “Coach Clark is a great coach and is a terrific shooter, and I think that he will be able to help me with my shot. I am looking forward to learning from him.”
At Bishop Moore, Ferguson is a duel captain with his middle school teammate, Danny Krazit. Krazit has coincidentally signed with arch rival Embry-Riddle.
Ferguson led the Bishop Moore Hornets to a 16-7 record this year (averaging 17 points, nine assists, and seven rebounds a game), as well as their second straight appearance in the High School 4-A Regional Tournament this year.
According to Coach Clark, Ferguson will add much needed athleticism and consistent scoring to the squad. However, it is the movement and decision-making with the ball that makes Ferguson stand out the most on the court.
“D.J. is a tremendous talent who is very intelligent and has deceptive quickness,” Clark said. “He sees the floor and will find the open man. To be honest, he could very well be the best passer in Flagler College history.”
Even though the addition of Ferguson was monumental for the Flagler College Basketball program, there is still work to be done.
According to Coach Clark, there are some players that they are looking to recruit and hopefully sign in the next couple of days. However, due to NCAA sanction, their names cannot be released. The staff believes that they are just as important to the team as Ferguson.
“We are looking at a mixture of players. Some four year players and some junior college players,” Clark said. “We are trying to get guys that can dominate the boards, shooters that can play on the perimeter and knock down the three-ball and someone that can play the wing and light up the score board.”
Clark and his staff officially began their recruiting push at the State Junior College Tournament in Marianna, Fla., March 7-10 at Chipola College.
According to the National Junior College Athletic Association, more than 2,000 visitors are expected to converge in Marianna for the four-day event. Approximately four hundred basketball players from sixteen teams, along with numerous Division I, II and III college coaches and recruiters are expected to scout the talent and the competition.
Clark will then meet with another top prospect in the coming days after the tournament in hopes that he will sign and become another addition to the puzzle that they will have to put together for next season.
While recruiting players may sound easy for the Saints, it has not always been so peachy for the coaching staff.
“The toughest thing about recruiting right now is the fact that we are in a transition period, because we don’t have a conference or a conference tournament,” Clark said.
While they think they played pretty well for their first season in NCAA Division II and are headed in the right direction, the staff knows what the bottom line is. They are taking every measure to ensure they are better for next season.
“We took a step up, and now we need to take another step up. I think we competed with the Div. II schools we played against this season,” Clark said. “We are only one or two players away from becoming a better team and can hopefully add a few more pieces to that puzzle to ensure that we get back to our winning ways.”