Dec. 19, 2011
By Jon Cooper
Duane Ferrell was a big star who knew how to play big.
A Baltimore, Md., native, McDonald’s All-American who came to Tech after leading Calvert Hall to a National Championship in 1982, Ferrell starred in Atlanta from 1985 through 1988. He was a solid two-way player, who left as Georgia Tech’s third all-time leading scorer (he’s currently ninth), scoring 1,818 points (14.3 ppg) and is one of 16 players with 1,000 points and 500 rebounds (he pulled down 668 boards). He ranks in the top 20 in school career marks in just about every offensive category, from scoring average and field goals made and attempted to assists, even games and starts. During the 1987-88 season, Ferrell and Tom Hammonds were a dominant 1-2 scoring punch that combined for 1,162 points (Ferrell had 595, Hammonds, 567) and still ranks as the school’s sixth most-potent scoring tandem.
Upon graduating from Tech, Ferrell played 11 seasons in the NBA, six of them with the Atlanta Hawks, averaging 6.4 points and 1.9 rebounds.
He came back to Atlanta following his retirement from the NBA and is beginning his fourth year working with the Hawks as their Player Relations and Programs Manager.
The former ACC Rookie of the Year spoke recently with Sting Daily about how excited he is about the state of Georgia Tech basketball and first-year Head Coach Brian Gregory, and how jazzed he is about where the Jackets are playing this year and especially where they will be playing next year.
STING DAILY: How much are you enjoying the fact that the Yellow Jackets will be playing home games at Philips Arena?
FERRELL: It’s going to make it a lot easier for me. I can just walk right outside the office and I’m in Philips Arena in the practice facility and they’re on the main floor. I’ll get to see them quite a bit. I’ll be talking to some of the season-ticket holders. It will be good feeling having them in the same building beside the Hawks and for me to get to work with one then with the other one, get to participate and then sit back and enjoy the other one.
SD: How’s the family? Are any of your children continuing your basketball legacy?
FERRELL: My oldest son is 21. He’s at Georgia State. I have a middle son who’s a freshman at Tuskeegee. My youngest is in the ninth grade and is playing varsity for Rockdale High School. None of them play basketball but my youngest. My daughter, she just lives here and works with my wife. Out of all my kids, my youngest one has the passion. So I’m going to continue to push him like I did the other ones. But they wanted to go off and do something different and I’m totally fine with that. They’re good kids.
SD: With the Jackets playing at Philips Arena, will you get out to see more games?
FERRELL: We always would like to see them at their home court, because with the alumni and the fan base and all the season-ticket holders, it’s an advantage. When I played there it was always an advantage. The student body was great and excited and loud. For me, this will kind of help me out a little bit because our schedules kind of conflicted over the years. It’s a good thing. I think I’m really going to enjoy this year.
SD: What is your favorite memory of Thrillerdome?
FERRELL: The tunnel that used to be in the middle of the court, where just before the game started you could hear the fans getting really excited because they knew we were about to come out. We got together as a team in that tunnel and stood midway up the tunnel and got ourselves excited and pumped up to go out there on the floor. Then that run from the top of the tunnel on down and coming out on that court and the Georgia Tech music comes on. That was a tremendous feeling.
SD: What are your thoughts on the new facility?
FERRELL: I’ve been hearing so many great things. I was over at the Athletic Association [a few] weeks ago and saw what they had done over there. Coach [Gregory] has done a tremendous job with putting a lot of the history back where it should be, on the walls, in his office. So when former players come back they get to see the history, they get to see the legacy, everything that was done in the past and up to the present. It’s a tremendous recruiting tool. What I saw there, I can’t imagine what it’s going to be like when the new building is finished.
SD: What are your thoughts on Coach Gregory and his reaching out to the former players?
FERRELL: I’m very impressed with what he’s done with the former players, welcoming us back and involving us with his present team and with recruiting and things like that. Just getting an opportunity to watch the team that he has in place right now, taking that and getting the most out of it. I was really impressed with the defense of the team. What I’ve seen so far, I know from a standpoint of being around basketball for a long time, defense wins championships and he’s getting off to a good start. I’m looking forward to seeing a lot of Georgia Tech games. It’s a fun time. I feel the buzz, like when I was a player. I feel like it’s on its way back.