Coming off a sophomore season in which she was named to the All-Region 2-AAAAA first team as well as the All-County first team, Leah Ferguson still thinks she has plenty to prove.
Grovetown High School’s 5-10 forward prefers offense over defense, but she will routinely take on the task of defending the other team’s best offensive player on the other end of the floor. In part, that’s to make a point.
“That’s only because most people think that since you’re a certain position you can’t do certain things I guess,” said Ferguson, originally from Charlotte, N.C. “I’m a big girl, supposedly, so I can’t do certain moves or certain things.”
Grovetown girls basketball head coach Jaime Echols has no doubts about Ferguson being able to help the team, coming off a year in which she averaged 8.1 points and 5.3 rebounds-per-game.
“She can play a lot of spots,” said Echols, who added that she worked unbelievably hard in the offseason.
“She can come out on the perimeter and play, she kind of proved herself in the post game. We’re going to use her all over the court.”
Being able to step out and shoot away from the basket didn’t come easy for Ferguson.
“It was gym time, a lot of gym time,” Ferguson said. “Shooting and a lot of drills. Over the summer, during the season, after the season, AAU, during practice, after practice. All of it.”
Being able to play where needed is part of Ferguson’s team-first attitude.
“I’ll do the stuff that maybe other people don’t want to do,” Ferguson said.
“The gritty, gritty. If we need rebounds, I’ll rebound, if we need scoring, I’ll score. Whatever he (Echols) needs.”
Echols knows he can depend on Ferguson to be a positive influence on his squad.
“Leadership-wise may be where she’s strongest, off the court and in the locker room,” Echols said. “We’re excited about the next two years with her. We’ll see where that takes us.”
Ferguson has high hopes for what the team can accomplish in the 2013-14 season.
“I see us going far,” she said. “This year we’re more focused on team concepts. Bonding and stuff like that. That stuff helps a lot.”
Having a team mascot, of sorts – a stuffed ape – named Wilbur is helping the team focus.
The ape, which stands for attitude, preparation, energy and effort, is present at practices and will be at games.
“If you have an attitude or something, ’cause actually that’s what the A stands for – attitude – you just look at it and remember what it stands for and get over it,” Ferguson said.
“It is working because the girls like him.”
She started playing co-ed basketball in fourth grade, but counts middle school as when she really started.
Her father, Perry, was a big influence on her work ethic and pushed her hard once she decided basketball was her sport.
“It was my decision to play. He basically said do it the right way or don’t do it,” Ferguson said.