"Terrance Ferguson, he wasn’t technically a Next Star but he was the guy that helped kind of grow the idea."

17 Jun
By Dan Woods for

With the level the NBL Next Stars program has reached in recent years, it’s hard to consider that the whole concept of the program began with one player - Terrance Ferguson.

While it’s household names like Josh Giddey and LaMelo Ball are, rightly, lauded as the heroes of the Next Stars program over recent years, it was Ferguson’s decision to forgo collegiate basketball in favour of a season with the Adelaide that paved the way for the latest wave of young stars to begin their professional careers in Australia.

Following 30 games for Adelaide in NBL17, Ferguson was successfully drafted to the Oklahoma City Thunder and went on to play over 200 games in the NBA. Now, the Next Stars program is staring down the barrel of a fifth first round selection in four seasons.

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“Terrance Ferguson, he wasn’t technically a Next Star but he was the guy that helped kind of grow the idea,” General Manager of Next Stars Recruitment Liam Santamaria said on SEN. “It’s been hugely successful since then.

“The past three NBA drafts have featured an NBL Nex Star in the lottery.

“Rayan Rupert, he might be sitting outside that top 14 at the moment … if he is a first-round pick that will be five first round picks in the last four drafts.

“LaMelo Ball, RJ Hampton, Josh Giddey, Ousmane Dieng and then this year Rayan Rupert – so it’s a proven pathway.”

Five of the ten NBL teams currently have a Next Star secured for the upcoming season, but just because they might be later to the table – that doesn’t mean the JackJumpers, 36ers, Bullets, Phoenix or Kings are missing out on exceptional talent.

In NBL22 Tasmania had one Next Star, Nikita Mikhailovskii, and Santamaria says the NBL’s newest side has been in contention for some burgeoning young stars heading into the new season.

“One of the things I’ll say is the JackJumpers are not a particularly hard sell for these young prospects,” Santamaria said. “They’ve been heavily involved in those conversations with a couple of really interesting and exciting prospects.

“They’ve created such a terrific culture in their first couple of years of existence in player development and improvement.

“Another one of the things we sell is an opportunity for these guys to come in here and just focus, get into the lab so to speak for six or seven months here in the NBL, as we launch them to something bigger and better towards the NBA ... the beautiful city it is there in Hobart in the beautiful state of Tasmania, but without the distractions of some of the bigger market teams, and the opportunity to just get down and dirty and get into the work.

“Hopefully we are able to make something happen in the Next Star space for the JackJumpers in the not too distant future.”

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