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Sunday, January 20, 2019

The Long And Winding Road Of Frankie Ferrari

by Harry Cummins

     In the turbo-charged world of collegiate basketball, the best name in the sport just picked up speed Saturday night.

     Led by their dynamic senior point guard Frankie Ferrari, the host San Francisco Dons beat BYU 82-63  last night, snapping an 11-game loosing streak to the Cougars, and vaulting the streaking Dons (16-3) into a second place tie in the West Coast Conference, just 1 game back of powerhouse Gonzaga.

     USF hadn't beaten BYU since Feb 9,2013 in Provo, and had dropped 14 of 15 contests to BYU since the Cougs entered the WCC in 2011.  The Dons shot a season-high 64% from the field in dominating BYU, led by the team high of 21 points and 7 assists from their leader, Ferrari, who was playing with flu-like symptoms.

     A first team All-WCC selection last season as a junior, the revved up Ferrari has never been one to stay in one place very long, on or off the court.

     A native of nearby Burlingame, Ferrari arrived at the Hilltop in 2014 as a highly publicized Bay Area recruit.  His freshman season was a disappointment, averaging just 1.3 points per game in less than 9 minutes per game of playing time.  His sophomore season found him at Canada College, a community college in Redwood City, where he was forced to red-shirt the entire season.

    It was a familiar circumstance to Ferrari, whose high school career at Burlingame High School included a detour to Riordan for his junior year.  He returned to Burlingame and won the Peninsula Athletic League Player of the Year award.

    Enacting his high school heroics, Ferrari returned to USF in the fall of 2016, a member of coach Kyle Smith's initial recruiting class.  Smith has first scouted Ferrari as a sophomore in high school, when Smith was still the coach at Columbia University in New York City.  After a first season back with USF, where he was a rotational player, Ferrari has fully emerged as the Dons back-court general and one of the most exciting players in college basketball.

     It has been a helter-skelter journey for this one time uber driver, who earlier this season dove into the stands after a loose ball and snatched a handful of popcorn from a startled spectator.

       Unpredictable and immensely entertaining, it's full speed ahead for Frankie Ferrari and his buckled up teammates, who hope to snack on visiting conference foe Portland next Thursday night in front of a 5th consecutive sell-out crowd.

     It's been 20 years since San Francisco has made it to the Big Dance.  I'm going along for this ride.

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