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Grovetown Sophomore Malik Ferguson’s Performance Can be Instructive for other Young Guns

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6’4″ Sophomore G Malik Ferguson (#1) – Grovetown

In Saturday’s 88-76 season opening win over Greenbrier, sophomore Malik Ferguson scored 20 points, making 12 of 14 free throw attempts, to help lead Grovetown to a commanding win on the road after falling behind by 13 points in the first quarter.

Whether during Saturday’s game or in Grovetown’s preseason game at Richmond, Ferguson, a 6’4” guard, has played outstanding basketball so far this season. He has shown a nice shooting touching, an eagerness to distribute the ball and set teammates up for easy buckets, and a determination to change the game on defense and on the glass.

Ferguson saw time as a freshman last season. And the big guard’s talent has been apparent at least since his eighth grade campaign at Grovetown Middle. But this season his skills seem to have catapulted to a different level, and he is playing with a kind of sharpness, enthusiasm and energy that has distinguished himself from almost everybody I’ve seen play during the preseason and the opening weekend of the regular season.

In the interview below, Grovetown head coach Darren Douglas describes what he thinks is behind Ferguson’s progress. Douglas’s assessment should serve as advice and wisdom for the “young stars” across the area who have been fortunate and talented enough to make an impact for their varsity teams early in the season. For example, in our recent postings of the box scores from area games, I counted four freshmen (Derrion Reid – Grovetown, Khaleel Pratt – GreenbrierLavonta Ivery– Thomson and Lemar Edmond – Harlem) who have scored in double figures for their teams. 
All of them can benefit themselves by heeding Douglas’s wisdom about getting to play a lot at an early age not being beneficial if a player doesn’t have the work ethic to go with his talent, and the self awareness to know that no matter how far ahead of his peers he might be early on, the long term winners are always going to be the hardest workers, and those who are most eager to learn from their mistakes, and, sometimes, those who are willing to sit down, observe where they stand, and set out to improve every day so when the next season comes, people will talk about how much they’ve improved. Like Malik did last year. But let’s let Coach Douglas take it from here:

Grovetown head coach Darren Douglas about Malik Ferguson’s progress:

Chad

I’ve heard people say “effort is a skill.” Do you have any players who give more effort than Malik Ferguson? What did you think about his performance Saturday night, and I suppose specifically in the third quarter, when he seemed to almost take over the game on both sides of the court?

Darren

We definitely teach and track effort and competitiveness here and I think that’s what kinda helped us keep the pressure up in the third. Malik was phenomenal tonight, he was all over the floor defensively, he got to the front of the rim at will and he just had a big stretch in the 3rd where he gave “Warrior Effort”.

Chad

It seems like he has made a giant leap forward since last season. What is your opinion about his progress? And what do you think it should be attributed to?

Darren

He has made a huge leap, I think more than anything not playing as much last year until towards the end of the season nudged him in the direction of getting a routine of hard work daily. It’s pretty cool to see it pay off for him.

So many kids want to be “the man” early because of pressure from parents, friends, social media etc. that a lot of kids miss out on the lessons that can push them towards success long term. Sometimes you need to sit and realize the world doesn’t revolve around you.

Kids think playing a lot early has this huge impact in going to college and it does, but only if you have the work ethic already when you are playing that early. A lot of kids’ progression as players and people is stunted because they get it early and never learn to work for it. Anything worth having takes work.

Chad

By “playing early” you mean getting a lot of playing time on varsity as a freshman, for example. Or being the guy everybody’s talking about when you’re a 14u AAU star. That kind of thing, right?

Darren

Yeah. Just getting it without ever really earning it. A lot of kids play early and I think it hurts them. Because they just kinda tread water for 4 years not showing super improvement between the years, just get a little stronger but nothing else really to it.

Malik is a completely different player and if you ask him I’ll bet he will tell you that being humbled last year was the best thing for him as a player and a person. A lot of kids miss that. Now you have a few every year that leave and go to school and end up moving up to a D1, but if they had that work ethic earlier that they (later) found by going Juco, you would see this place become a recruiting stop every year.

Self awareness is a skill.

Chad

Learning to use that skill to his advantage has helped Malik immensely. I hope as many young guns as possible will learn that same skill and use it well, too.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Lux Life TV

    December 4, 2020 at 4:37 PM

    they cant do nothing with him!! good game

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[Livestream] Grovetown vs Evans in Region Battle for Playoff Position

Evans hosts Grovetown and looks to avenge their buzzer beater loss to the Warriors on January 22nd.

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“Sophomore Malik Ferguson picked up a loose ball in the middle of the paint with one second remaining, and right before the fourth quarter buzzer sounded, he released a shot that found its mark to give Grovetown 61-60 win over Evans Friday, a result that threw the top spot in the class 6A, region 5 standings into a three way tie between Grovetown, Evans and Heritage to mark the beginning of the stretch run for the league’s regular season championship. Ferguson’s shot came at the end of a full court dash by Grovetown after head coach Darren Douglas was able to draw up a play during a timeout that was meant to result in a bucket in only six seconds. The play was designed for senior Zach Bell, who eventually fumbled the ball after spinning between defenders at the end of a drive that began near half court after he gathered the ball from freshman Derrion Reid.”

That was Chad Cook’s rundown of the instant classic that these two teams played two weeks ago. That win by Grovetown sets up a must-win scenario for Evans as they look to maintain their footing in the race for a region championship.

Be sure to get your ? ready early because if tonight’s game is as exciting as the last one, you just might forget those jokers altogether!

Streams will be posted here. Tip-off times are as follows:
Girls – 6:30 PM
Boys – 8:00 PM

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Former Basketball Stars Lead the Way in Business, Community Service, and Artistic Pursuits

Harold Doby, Reggie Middleton and Roman Hill have turned a brand into a business, a lifestyle and a mental framework for impacting their community.

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Reggie Middleton (left) and Harold Doby (right)

On January 4th, the day after Harold Doby’s “Books and Life Lessons” (B.A.L.L.) charitable organization conducted a coat drive to help keep warm some of the most vulnerable people in the downtown area, I spoke with Doby and Reggie Middleton, two lifelong friends and former college and high school basketball stars, at Middleton’s “Came From Nxthing Designer Apparel” shop at 120 James Brown Boulevard. Our interview (below) covered the coat drive, Reggie’s entrepreneurial journey, and the meaning behind the “Came From Nxthing” brand, which originated from the music of Roman Hill, our third interviewee. Hill’s friendship with Doby and Middleton helped sprout a “movement” that has provided a framework for the three former athletes to impact the world through acts of community service, business, art, entrepreneurship and charity.

The interview provided a great chance for me to get reacquainted with two men I’ve watched grow from being boys who excelled in a game, to leaders of their families and their community. I bet others who watched them star at Glenn Hills and Winthrop (Middleton), and at Laney and Augusta University (Doby), will also gain satisfaction from hearing about their continued personal development. For example, Reggie explained how he took advantage of his basketball talent to earn a job playing professional basketball in London. Then he used his experience there to hatch a business idea to bring high-quality fashion for an affordable price to people in his hometown.

Reggie Middleton scored 1,186 points for Winthrop.

Harold’s concern for people who are most in need, whether it be the men and women he personally distributed the coats to earlier this month, or the students in his school he recalled giving clothes and shoes to when he was in grade school, is the original reason for my getting back into contact with the two men I once coached and taught when they were middle schoolers.

Harold Doby distributing coats in downtown Augusta on January 4.

I’m grateful we reconnected because they are a shining example of what can be greatest about sports and the community that builds around such a life journey: strong, caring relationships developed through shared experiences, encounters with adversity, and moments of triumph, as well as failures and hardships. Reggie’s story about how he has been able to take the difficult circumstances of the pandemic and nonetheless thrive in business with his “back against the wall” by drawing on his experiences as a basketball player growing up reinforces something I’ve always believed, that youth sports is great practice for real life. 

Harold Doby and Reggie Middleton, as well as Roman Hill, whom Doby first met as his rapping Augusta University basketball teammate, are winning the game of real life every bit as much as they did when they mastered the game of basketball as younger men.

Look out for news of the next Drive from B.A.L.L. Visit the Came From Nxthing Designer Apparel Facebook page to see Reggie’s merchandise, shop with him online or find store information:

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