USF freshman Frankie Ferrari is not the prototypical ultra-athletic, attacking point guard that has become so prevalent in today’s basketball world. Instead, Ferrari’s game is a throwback to earlier smart, sharpshooting floor generals.
“I get a lot of Steve Nash, John Stockton comparisons,” Ferrari said. “The small, gritty white guy that can shoot it.”
The five-foot-11, 160 pounder may not be able to rely on superhuman jumping ability or dizzying speed, but he has an attitude and work ethic that can more than make up for it. In his biography on his Twitter page, Ferrari boldly claims to be “the hardest working player in the country.”
“I’ve just always tried to outwork everyone,” Ferrari said. “I wasn’t blessed with athletic ability, and hard work has always been a part of my life. In the offseason, I’m working five, six, seven hours a day, and it’s something that not a lot of other people do. I think if you’re the hardest working player, it sets you up to be the most successful.”
Ferrari is from Burlingame, California, a town on the San Francisco peninsula just a 25-minute drive from the city. He played three years of high school basketball at local Burlingame High School, averaging 22.4 points and 7.1 assists per game as a senior, and spent his junior year at Archbishop Riordan in San Francisco. Ferrari earned numerous offers from Division II schools, as well as Idaho State, a Division 1 college, but when USF emerged as an option, it did not take him long to make the decision to become a Don.
Ferrari cites the coaching staff as the primary reason he chose to play at USF, and since he began working out with team over the summer, his relationship with head coach Rex Walters has grown.
“[Walters] is really good with player development,” Ferrari said. “He can show you one thing, and it can really change your game. He has a different outlook on basketball. It’s his life, and that’s how I am. All I do is work out and watch film, so we’ve connected a lot.”
Although this is his first year on the Hilltop, Ferrari is no stranger to Dons basketball. When he was in fifth grade, his cousin played for USF, and Ferrari’s family had season tickets to the games. And last year, after committing to USF, he made frequent visits to campus to watch games, work out, and spend time around the team.
“I knew the guys, I had personal relationships [with them] before [I] even started here,” Ferrari said. “It’s different, I feel like I have a different relationship with the players than maybe another freshman would.”
Ferrari’s high school teammate, six-foot-eight forward Nick Loew, is a freshman walk-on for the Dons, and the two Burlingame High products have been able to continue their friendship into college.
“To have somebody that’s been through a lot with you, to lean on, it’s great,” Ferrari said. “I talk to him all the time, we’re together every day.”
This year, Ferrari joins a loaded Dons backcourt that features seniors Matt Glover and Corey Hilliard, as well as freshman Devin Watson as other viable options at the point guard position. With Ferrari and Watson, as well as a trio of transfers (Derrell Robertson, Montray Clemens, and Uche Ofoegbu), all poised to make an impact on the court, the Dons have added many new pieces and are armed with a roster as deep as any that Rex Walters has seen in his six years at USF.
After finishing tied for second in the West Coast Conference last season, the Dons were projected to take a slight dip this season and finish fourth in the recently released WCC preseason poll. However, Ferrari isn’t preoccupied with preseason rankings.
“If people buy into their roles and we find [that] it’s a team before the individual, I think we can be awesome,” Ferrari said. “This is a year that we can make the NCAA Tournament.”
Regardless of how the Dons perform in the WCC this year, Ferrari’s underdog mentality and relentless drive to improve should certainly help USF’s chances.
“Hard work doesn’t guarantee anything, but it gives you a hell of a chance,” Ferrari said. “That’s something Coach Walters always says, and I’ve always bought into that. I [was always] working as a little kid. I’ve been going to the gym and working out every night since I was in third grade. So it’s always been something, and this year when I stepped into college I said to myself, ‘I want to be the hardest working player in the country,’ and that’s what I’m going to try to do.”