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Quote Me, Howie: Duluth Denfeld boys basketball coaches on elite player Marnaries Ferguson

2023-24 Prep Boys Basketball Preseason Player of the Year Marnaries Ferguson. Howie /

Hunters boys basketball top assistant Duncan Gregory on 5-foot-10 ultra-elite point guard Marnaries Ferguson, northeast Minnesota's top junior prospect – "Man, that kid is phenomenal. It starts with his attitude and willingness to learn, and to admit what he doesn't know. Remember, this kid is just a junior and he started playing varsity as a freshman and has been playing at an elite level throughout. Unquestionably, he's an elite talent for this area and beyond. This is his team for the next two years and he's got to take advantage of this opportunity of it being his team. He's currently sharing that spotlight with four higher level seniors who also represent this team, so as a whole they're looking to do some big things this year.

I think he's got to get a little bit stronger defensively and work on his defensive quickness and awareness, and just learn to dominate the game defensively as he does offensively. He keeps his focus where it needs to be and I don't think things are too hyped for him. He has a great, great mentor and coach in (Hunters head coach) Phill Homere. Coach is there for that kid, as he is for all of our kids. I think they are mirror images of each other when you talk about living vicariously through your child. The players call Marnaries Coach Homere's son."

Said Homere – "The main goal for Marnaries is continue to get better because the guys in the area already know what kind of player he is. They know he's an electric, fast guard, so a lot of opponents will try to find different ways to find an answer of stopping him. So I think he just has to keep working hard. The kid is willing to do whatever it is, at whatever time it is, and he's willing to get in the gym. He's always messaging me saying, 'Hey, can we get in the gym?' So I think that as long as he continues to work on his game, continues to get stronger, the sky's the limit how far he can actually get.

I feel like he just has to keep finding different ways to make himself available when the ball isn't in his hands. He just has to find different ways of setting off the ball screens and getting himself open because, sooner or later, team will try to find ways of denying him and keeping the ball out of his hands. I'm thankful to have a player like that on our team because he's a very respectful kid, he's hard-working, and he's willing to be just the ideal leader. He pushes the guys around him to be better.

He's constantly trying to get guys in the gym with him, and I've never had an issue where he was either disrespectful or he was talking back. I'm honestly very grateful that I have him on my team.

I feel like his biggest weakness is his size, and that's something I told him he could get around that because, as long as he works on his court vision, as far as being able to just be a scoring point guard, I feel like that helps him a lot. I look at him as a combo guard because he can play the one and he can play the two, but I do think, at the point guard position his quickness makes him see so much more on the court. He does need to work on his vision because, at the next level to be able to create for his teammates, at times he sees things late.

He's always going to leave the defense guessing on what he's going to do. He's one of those kids that could make something out of nothing. It's like you could send a double at him, and he's going to find a way to split it. He's so athletic that he ends up creating things that you'd be like, 'Whoa, did he just do that?' So I feel like, regardless, and the way his elevation on his mid range shot, I feel like that makes a huge difference because I rarely ever see anybody block his shot because he just elevates so high and he loves shooting at mid range. And I think that's a really good shot for him.

So, I think that's a huge advantage seeing him exceeding at the next level. Hey, not to even think about that he's only a junior. He has a whole basically two years left. So that's a good thing. I could see him playing at the D2 level. But to get to D1, if he works on some small things, to me, I think he could play at that level, too."

Said Ferguson – "We're going to be ready for the season (starting Friday night against Kasson-Mantorville in Hermantown). We've been getting preparing for this the whole summer. Our team chemistry is excellent, and we're ready to give it our best shot. I think my game – defense, shooting, speed – has improved over the summer, and I'm ready to show it out in action. I try to do good on the court and off because I'm a Christian. So when I think about the world, I think about how Jesus died for the world. I think his image is put onto me and what my image shows is what he gave me. I aspire, always, to honor him."

Other top area prospects, as selected by the

. Hermantown senior power forward Abe Soumis

. Denfeld senior forward Aidan Altona

. Duluth East sophomore guard Ty Nyberg

. Denfeld senior forward Deon Persaud-Davis

. Denfeld senior forward KJ Pulliam

. Cloquet junior guard Jack Battaglia

Tonight at Sill Arena

7 p.m. – 2A/No. 14 Duluth East vs. 2A/No. 15 Grand Rapids high school boys hockey. Game Notes: The Greyhounds are 0-2 following season-opening road losses against White Bear Lake 4-3 in overtime last Friday night and against Shakopee 5-4 Saturday afternoon. Greyhounds scoring leaders are senior forwards Noah Teng and Thomas Gunderson (two goals and two assists each). The Thunderhawks (1-0) defeated Hibbing 5-2 last Wednesday at Yanmar Arena in Grand Rapids.