Renee Ladner knows a college-caliber player when she sees one.
The former Ole Miss women’s basketball coach, now leading the D’Iberville High School girls program, believes South Alabama is getting a steal in Casey Ferguson.
The senior Lady Warrior committed to nearby USA last month.
“They’re getting the complete package — academics and athletics,” Ladner said Wednesday. “They’re getting a gym rat and a workhorse. No one is going to outwork her.”
Because she didn’t focus on basketball until her sophomore season, Ferguson hasn’t quite received the same exposure as other top recruits. As such, Ladner believes Ferguson is a versatile “diamond in the rough.”
“I think she’ll be a real strong three and maybe play some two,” Ladner said. “Her guard skills have improved. She’s a strong, strong rebounder, which puts her in a three role, and she can shoot the ball really well from the outside. Her handles are good, too, because she has spent hours and hours in the gym.
“She can be a real matchup nightmare as she has the ability to score from the perimeter, extend the floor and get to the rim.”
The 5-foot-10 Ferguson averaged 21 points, 10.7 rebounds, 4.1 steals and 1.1 blocks as a junior.
“I think you’ve only seen tip of the iceberg with Casey,” Ladner said. “She does nothing easy. She goes hard all the time.”
Ferguson said she was excited to select USA. Southern Miss and Rice showed interest, but offers have not materialized. After a rather brief courtship, Ferguson ultimately picked the Jaguars over offers from Arkansas-Little Rock, Delta State, Mississippi College and others.
“I’m basically choosing college because of the people,” Ferguson said. “I really enjoyed the coaches and it’s close to home. I used to want to go far away, but I realized a while back that I want to stay close by my parents.”
Ferguson said she grew up playing softball and played a little soccer as a freshman, but never really concentrated on basketball until Ladner joined D’Iberville’s staff.
“When Coach Ladner came to D’Iberville, I decided to give basketball a try,” Ferguson said. “She helped mold me into a college basketball player.”
USA has done a good job of late keeping premier South Mississippi talent close by. Last year, USA signed St. Martin standout Savannah Jones.