By BOB REDD
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
Aaron Ferguson did not make the basketball team when he was in the sixth grade. He was cut. Fast forward five years and the 6’8 junior is the starting center for the Princeton Tigers.
This past Saturday against the Winfield Generals, Ferguson scored 43 points, grabbed 22 rebounds and had five steals to lead the Tigers to a double-overtime win over its Mountain State Athletic Conference foe. For that performance Ferguson is the latest Pocahontas Coal Association/Bluefield Daily Telegraph Player of the Week.
“That game was probably the most exciting game of my high school career so far,” Ferguson said. “I knew I was bigger than them and our guards realized that too. I wasn’t really worried about scoring, it just ended up like that.”
Tigers head coach Ernie Gilliard spoke of Ferguson’s accomplishment.
“It was nothing short of phenomenal,” Gilliard said. “He did a great job for us on both ends of the floor, a great job of scoring for us and a great job of rebounding.
“The foundation of our offense is based on our inside play. We’ve got the most experience there and it’s a no-brainer that would be a focal point of our offense.”
While many youngsters begin playing sports in elementary school, Ferguson hit the hardwood once he got to middle school, preferring up to that time another sport.
“I really didn’t start playing organized basketball until seventh grade. I got cut my sixth grade year and I played rec league and it kind of started from there,” Ferguson pointed out.
“I originally played baseball. That used to be my favorite sport. In eighth grade I hit a growth spurt and basketball became the sport I love. I just kept working and training for it every day and here I am now.”
Putting in the work is something Ferguson has done and it has not gone unnoticed by his coach.
“He has had steady growth. Of course from a coach’s perspective there is always room to improve,” Gilliard said. “He and the team has committed to being involved in a strength program and he spends a lot of time at The Training Edge and of course in the fall we had a strength and conditioning program. It has enhanced his ability in the game at a consistent level.”
Ferguson added, “Steve (Collins) and T.J. (Benners) (at The Training Edge) have me there every day, training so hard. Those workouts over the summer really helped me to where I am now.”
The Tigers started the season 0-3, but have won their last three games as they head into tonight’s contest at Cabell Midland, unarguably the toughest Class AAA league in West Virginia. So far this season Ferguson is averaging 21 points, 11.8 rebounds and 1.1 assists per game. He believes that the team is coming into its own.
“We’ve got our lineup and our rotation figured out and now as we start a new year we come to work,” Ferguson said. “We haven’t been goofing off like we had. I think we are all on the same page now, wanting to work, wanting to win. Three wins in a row really have boosted our self-esteem going into the game against Cabell (Midland).”
Ferguson said his mother Krista and step-father John Ferguson are big supporters and inspirations to him, but there is another person who helps keep him on track.
“My grandfather, Willard Lane, he’s the one who pushes me the hardest and talks to me about everything... keeps me straight in line,” Ferguson said.
Ferguson has a younger sister, Ashley, who is a sophomore at Princeton and an older sister who lives in Tennessee. Though just a junior, he has plans.
“My future dreams? I plan on playing Division I ball and hopefully making it to the NBA. I just have to keep working hard,” Ferguson concluded.
— Contact Bob Redd at