Jack Keefer sounds off on Dominique Ferguson

  • 07/17/2009 7:53 am in

As reported on Wednesday, 2010 forward Dominique Ferguson is transferring to Hargrave Military Academy. This is not exactly surprising given the rumors about Ferguson leaving Lawrence North started circulating over a month ago.

What is a bit surprising are the comments made by the head coach of Lawrence North, Jack Keefer, regarding Ferguson and his decision to leave the school.

Keefer has long had a reputation for accepting players from other schools, including Greg Oden, who moved from Terre Haute. More recently, Ferguson himself bolted Franklin Central to come play at Lawrence North.

But now that Ferguson is no longer one of his players, his former coach is sounding off. Remember, we’re not talking about a professional or even a college player. He’s a teenager. Witness these comments from Thursday’s Indianapolis Star:

“Dom did not fit into being a Wildcat. The workouts and the classroom work and the discipline and teamwork were not what he was looking for. We have a great team here, a possible state championship team. I’m sorry he doesn’t want to be part of that.”

“He wasn’t qualified and wasn’t taking his summer classes that he needed to get caught up.”

Hear that sound? It’s Keefer backing up his Mack truck and then running over a high school kid. Bad work ethic? Check. Trouble in the classroom? Check. Not fitting in with the team? Check.

Regardless of what you or I think about Ferguson, it’s important to remember that he’s only in high school. The fact that Keefer publicly questioned his academic work ethic is out of line regardless of whether or not it’s true. I don’t remember it being an issue during the last high school season, so it shouldn’t have been an issue now.

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(Photo credit: Indianapolis Star)

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  • druid1

    The problem I see is the folks who are upset over Coach Keefer's comments, not what the coach has said. If indeed what the coach has said is true, why is it so bad to voice his opinion? The truth and free speech in this country has taken a back seat to the PC crowd and the thin skinned liberals. Discipline and responsibility among young people today is nearly non existing and I say Coach Ferguson has every right to voice his opinion in our so-called “free country”.

  • kmwinter

    Assuming what Keefer says is true, why is this out of line? It's not like Ferguson is 12. He's very nearly a legal adult and I don't see a problem with calling him out for not acting like one.

    Besides, these comments are kinda taken out of context. If you listen to the entire interview Keefer called Ferguson a “good kid” and was mostly concerned with how Ferguson's handlers were enabling this behavior. I thought Keefer came off as genuinely concerned for Ferguson's well being.

  • HoosierFromBirth

    Coach Keefer is starting to sound like the 15 year old who got dumped by his girlfriend, and then states “Well she was a Bitch anyway”.

  • Kelin Blab

    The problem is this work ethic and classroom issues seemed to all be ok when Dom was on the team benefitting Jack. Now that a kid and his family makes a decision to try and correct the problem, Keefer spends 48hours now between local radio and newspaper bashing the kid. As a coach, where is his responsibility in making sure a kid is doing well in school? When everyone knows Jack 'ain't' the cleanest coach in the world when it comes to running a program.

    Odd questions — do all the 7 footers live in lawrence township? Jacks has had at least 4.
    Pike, NC, LC, BD, IPS, Warren, and the list goes on and on have had no seven footers in their entire district/school….isn't that odd or is it jack?

  • Kelin Blab

    He did not fit into being a Wildcat Jack….didn't Dom start every game for you?

  • BGleas

    I'm about as big of a conservative politically as you'll find, with that said, what about the discipline and responsibility of an adult not to air a high school kids dirty laundry to the media? My take away is that Keefer is trying to hurt Ferguson's recruitment because he's mad that he left LN, that despicable.

    Ferguson obviously has some maturing to do, but Keefer is now the one coming off looking bad here. He sounds bitter and more worried about his record or state championship chances than he is about the kid. Seems to me a year at a military school is exactly what Ferguson needs.

  • BGleas

    I'm about as big of a conservative politically as you'll find, with that said, what about the discipline and responsibility of an adult not to air a high school kids dirty laundry to the media? My take away is that Keefer is trying to hurt Ferguson's recruitment because he's mad that he left LN, that despicable.

    Ferguson obviously has some maturing to do, but Keefer is now the one coming off looking bad here. He sounds bitter and more worried about his record or state championship chances than he is about the kid. Seems to me a year at a military school is exactly what Ferguson needs.

  • Millport

    First, I am not a “thin skinned liberal”. Mr. Keefer has no legal right to talk publicly about grades and eligibility situations. I am not saying that Ferguson is a good student or person. As an educator Mr. Keefer cannot make public statements like these. Druid, how would you respond if this was your son? The entire story is not known. Probably will never be known.

  • BGleas

    I do agree a bit with you on this point. This could also be a case of the media reporting the part of the story that they want to report. A lot of blogs and stories seem to be leaving out the part where Keefer calls him a “good kid” and is really more upset about those surrounding DF that are influencing him.

    Still not right for him to attack a high school kids work ethic and classroom performance in the media though.

  • BFowler

    I have no problem with Keefer speaking the truth, if that's what it is. What I am looking at is – why? Why would he choose to lambaste a 17-year old kid? Why has he gone to more than one media outlet and vented his frustration? What does this say about Coach Keefer? What does this say to his future recruits, I mean, students? Is he really that heart-broken over losing such a talent, or is he trying to hedge against what Dom and his family may say about him? If it is really “addition by subtraction,” why go through the exercise of calling him out? Is it really about the kid when the adult in this situation is whining more than the kid? There are more questions than answers when an adult, of Coach Keefer's stature and tenure, comes out hard against a kid, who for all intents and purposes, has no bearing on the future of Coach Keefer. This makes me believe there is something else going on here. I listened to the JMV interview and I wondered what kind of pictures the Ferguson family has….

  • kmwinter

    Explain to me why it's not right to attack a high school kid's work ethic?

    I can see how it would be inappropriate to attack a kid who is doing all they can but just can't keep up academically. But if a kid's plum lazy, that's fair game, in my opinion.

  • Kelin Blab

    What does this say to his future recruits, I mean, students?………..OUCH that hurt!

  • I'm fairly certain that it's out of bounds for any school employee — teacher, coach, administrator — to publicly discuss the academic standing of a student. If he wants to say he doesn't fit in with the team, that's fine. But there are some things that you don't discuss publicly and this is one of them.

    Furthermore, if he wasn't keeping up academically, then why did he play all of last season? Something doesn't add up here.

  • BGleas

    A little thing called “having some class”. You most certainly can attack a kid who is not dong what they're supposed to be doing in private, but for a grown man to attack a high school kid in the media is pretty classless to me.

  • kmwinter

    Alex: I agree that Keefer waiting until now to bring up these issues is suspect and raises questions regarding his past academic standing.

    BGleas: It becomes a matter of how you classify top-tier prep basketball players. Are they public figures and subject to media scrutiny? Do you try to protect them because they're “kids” ? If so, is that really helping them ? (in this case, i'd say not)

  • kmwinter

    Alex: I agree that Keefer waiting until now to bring up these issues is suspect and raises questions regarding his past academic standing.

    BGleas: It becomes a matter of how you classify top-tier prep basketball players. Are they public figures and subject to media scrutiny? Do you try to protect them because they're “kids” ? If so, is that really helping them ? (in this case, i'd say not)

  • garydavid711

    If Ferguson is that bad give Keefer a double portion. I would not want my child to play for any coach that would say anything negative about them publicly. They should only be said to child and family in private. I wonder if that was done? This has nothing to do with free speech but has everything to do with class and shows so much arrogance.

  • IUKYLE94

    Wow, there really is a lot of thin skinned folks out there. Keefer said he didn't fit in and had a bad work ethic on and off the court including the academics. There is nothing wrong with that if what he said is accurate, and I don't care if it's made public or kept private. The problem is with the adults that are concerned about his fragile ego. This young man needs a dose of reality instead of being coddled and moved from one academic institution to another until they find one that'll get him academically eligible. Enabling these kids is what causes guys like Antoine Walker to make $99million over a relatively short time and be broke and bouncing checks when the fat check stops rolling in. As for the comments regarding why wasn't this a problem last year when he was helping the team, maybe it was. Maybe it was being discussed in private and there were attempts being made to put the kid on the right track but him and his “people” weren't hearing it.

  • Nothing better than a grown damn man acting like a jilted, teenaged lover. It's one thing to have legitimate feelings about how DFerg is being manipulated by those around him, but it's an entirely different thing to drive the school bus over him and attack his academic character. Isn't that part of his job as coach, ensuring academic compliance amongst his team members? One of my first hoops coaches told me, upon getting my only D on a report card, that my failure in the classroom was his failure as a coach. He benched me until I raised my grade on my next test in that class. Ferguson may be nuttier than a Jackson family reunion, but Keefer's inappropriate and unprofessional comments only throw his nuts in the same bowl.

  • BFowler

    Chronic, you are hilarious. You make a valid point though, as many other have. Who is the adult in this situation? Why make this an issue now? It only puts a spotlight on the program and what potentially may be going on.

  • BFowler

    As a parent, I would not like it if a public figure/legendary coach would pit my child against himself. The credibility factor would lie with Keefer immediately due to his status. Then again, I would not let my child leave class to play in an AAU tournament, nor be in a position to fail and still play ball. I am not concerened about the player's ego, what I am concerned about is of all the kids that have gone to LN, is this the first kid who has left? He nor his father said anything about the coach, just that he needed to get his academics in order and the public schools aren't good (big shock). Why is Keefer coming out this way? Not what was said, how he is going about it. He sounds concerned about the kid in some ways, but like a petulent child in another way.

  • He didn't just question his work ethic, he aired private information (information that might be protected by federal law) about his academic situation. And it was information that could be pretty damaging to his recruitment.

    If Keefer wants to pop off that Ferguson “didn't have the desire or work ethic to be a Wildcat on or off the court,” that's one thing. But to take a shot at him with specific information about his college eligibility is another.

  • Kelin Blab

    Comparing Antoine Walker and Dom Fergunson is a bit of a stretch. I don't think anyone is thin skinned on here about what Keefer said about DF, it is saying it in the media…newspaper and radio. That is unheard of at the high school level as we ALL understand these are high school kids! Keefer may echo many coaches across this state about players on their team, but you DO NOT put that out there about a kid….again a kid!

    As Jack is finding out, this is becoming a reflection and spotlight on him and his program. I am for certain he DOES NOT want this spotlight.

    Dear Jack answer these questions:
    1. Since Dom was having these 'academic issues' why did you continue to play him?
    2. What did you do to help him?
    3. Would any other coach at any other level start a kid for an entire season, if he didn't fit the 'Wildcat' way?
    4. Is winning more important than academics at LN
    5. In your comments you mentioned he didn't want to be part of a possible championship team? Didn't he play last year? and also…..You do know Bloomington South is going to win it again don't you? (thats for me personally)

  • IUKYLE94

    Kelin, I didn't compare Walker and Ferguson. I said to continually enable a kid instead of providing quality parental guidance is what eventually causes that kind of situation. Keefer should've been the bigger person but he wasn't and I don't think what he said is a problem unless it's factually incorrect. He didn't provide any confidential info. He said the kids not eligible nor is he doing what it takes to become eligible at the next level. He didn't say he wasn't able to play HS ball, it only takes a 2.0gpa to stay in good standing. As as we all know this isn't necessarily enough to play in college.

  • GFDave

    Its not being thin skinned to disagree with the ethics of this situation. Keefer crossed the line when he revealed the academic information. It is a violation of the teacher/coach-student/player relationship. I wouldn't be surprised if a law or two had been broken.

    You say he didn't provide any confidential info, then go and prove that he did by quoting what his grades are. Is that your business to know? It is not.

    I think it hilarious that people posting anonymously on the internet don't care about the privacy of others.

  • IUKYLE94

    GF Dave, I didn't provide any info. regarding his grades. I said that according to Keefer he's not eligible to play at the next level. I then went on to say that it only takes a 2.0 to remain in good standing at the HS level which isn't necessarily good enough to play in college. NO WHERE in what I said or the article Keefer was quoted in mentioned his specific grades. Everything I've said was reported in the newspaper. I think it's hilarious that people comment and attribute things to people that were never said. Try reading my post again and point out where I said anything about his specific grades. Reading comprehension man, reading comprehension.

  • Kelin Blab

    Jack Keefer seems to be a hot topic…wow reminds me of the Mike Davis days….well maybe not, Davis would have produced 4 times the amount of post…nevertheless for an offseason topic…good job ALex…

  • GFDave

    I did not say that you reported his grades, I said that Keefer did and that you proved that Keefer did it by quoting what Keefer said. Keefer said Dom is not eligible to play, and of course that means Dom's got poor grades. Just because he didn't give us his report card doesn't mean we don't now know that it was bad. Keefer wasn't specific, but he sure did tell us all that Dom is not doing well. Comprehend, or should I type slower?

  • IUKYLE94

    You said his grades were quoted and that didn't happen, “You say he didn't provide any confidential info, then go and prove it by quoting WHAT his grades are.” what was said is he's not eligible to play at the next level, his dad said said it and so did Keefer, that's why he transferred. Comprehend, or should I type slower for you?

  • MillaRed

    Because they are minors and have different rights. Imagine if this were your kid.

  • MillaRed

    If only Keefer held up high academic standards like Kelvin Sampson…….

    By the way, is there is a reason this guy looks 100 years old and still coaches high school ball?

    You can't bash kids in the media. If a local coach went public about anything personal in my kids life I would go postal.

  • DavisX

    My son has recently commited to play ball at a wonderful university, and let me tell you the first stop on everyone of his visits was the academic department. This information that Keefer publicly spoke of certainly won't help his recruiting, but the schools who are recruiting him would know very quickly if Dominique was going to have problems getting in or staying eligible. I think this was very unclassy of the coach. Like Kelin said-was Keefer worried about this before, or was it just suddenly an issue when his star player left?

    I fault the parents who should know that their son will not play ball forever, and needs a good education. Unfortunately some parents treat their kids like lotto tickets hoping one day they will pay off! Very sad.

  • psvirsky

    Maybe it's just me, but I really got the impression from listening to him on JMV that Keefer's beef lies almost solely with DF's handlers and not his parents or DF himself. It sounded as though DF's got some people telling him all sorts of stuff about his future as a ball player and that a lot of it is pretty detrimental to him. Keefer definitely came off pretty angry and said some stuff he shouldn't have, but it really wasn't aimed mostly at DF. And like a few people have pointed out, he repeatedly said that DF's a good kid who's getting horrible advice.

    So to me Keefer shouldn't have said stuff about his academics but he's really just upset with DF's handlers and DF is probably going to need to make some changes to his people if he wants to get anywhere

  • CraiginOR

    BGleas…I hope you're not a Bible thumper or a conservative who thinks GW is the intellectual nexus of the Republican party. I agree with you on your Keefer/media point. Ferguson has to live with his drama-to-drama diva lifestyle, real or imagined. Military school will only help. I never wanted to talk about his bball karma because I knew I'd have to forgive his (ahem) character if he decided to attend IU. Keefer is another story, my dad would say “he's bitchin because someone has him by the short hairs”. Sounds like sour grapes to me. Keefer is the adult and supposed professional so he looks really lame.

  • BGleas

    Bible thumping? No. Conservative? Yes. I could go into a whole thing about GW, but I don't think we want to turn this post into that. We can if you want though?

    I'm with you on DF/Keefer. I'm not trying to say DF is some great kid, I don't know him or have ever met him. I feel it's just wrong for a high school coach to dog a player in the media, I find that extremely classless.

    I played high school and college basketball and was never a great student (although I was a team player and hard worker) and I can't imagine what it would have been like if my high school coach told the local media that I was struggling in the classroom, which definitely would have gotten spun into being lazy.

  • Ron in Jeffersonville

    Let me start a new question. Does anyone really think this kid is going to collage? I don't think the coach was wrong in pushing for him to go to class. According to the IHSAA rules, he has to maintain a certain grade point ave to even play. I feel that is why he is transferring (to get away from that rule). I don't see him in collage/ nor pros. This is a sad case of a talented player, that didn't want to be a student athlete. I am not trying to bash here, but how many times have we seen this very thing?
    Oh yea, the coach was wrong of any comments once it came out he was leaving.

  • bahickma

    I don’t buy into the sentiment that Keefer did nothing about or ignored Ferguson’s academic troubles. All you ever hear about with Keefer’s kids are how well they do in the classroom, how good of character they have, and how disciplined they are. For a coach whose garnered as much success and accolades as Keefer has, I find it extremely hard to believe that he would go out of his way to publicly embarrass the kid for no reason other than he left Lawrence North.

    Also, I hate referring to Ferguson as a “kid.” He’s a 17 or 18 year old child, sure, but even at that age we all make decisions for ourselves. Sure, some of them are really short-sighted and never even approach the long-term, but the decisions he does have to make aren’t that hard. Go to class or don’t? Do your home or don’t? Play basketball or don’t? It’s not like anyone’s asking him to lead a military invasion into a forward area or anything. To simply chalk his academic shortcomings up to his age isn’t good enough and shouldn’t be considered a valid excuse. We protect him by saying he’s a kid now, but if he were just another year older people would be bitching and moaning about how he is an adult and has to make his own decisions, etc.

  • BGleas

    I don't think anyone is chalking his shortcomings up to his age. We're just saying due to his age, it's pretty classless of an adult educator to air those shortcomings in the media. DF most certainly isn't acting responsibly (from what we know) in the classroom and maybe in other areas, but that doesn't belong in the media, especially from a jilted coach.

  • Kelin Blab

    Gleas and Craig….I agree with you both….

    I had an incident in high school where I got some bad advice from an outside party, skipped a big game, went on a college visit. My H.S. coach talked to me about it and my parents and it was done. Not one bit to the local media. I would have been CRUSHED if he did because I idolized my high school coach, and I regret to this day 20 years later I missed that game and let him down.

    I don't think kids idolize their h.s. coaches anymore given they have an AAU coach and a personal trainer that are in their ears as well. Jack at some point should have gone to the family (which they are VERY good people, I know personally) and talked to them one on one……

  • Joel

    Frankly, I have very little simpathy for this kid. I have been observing the recruiting process for a couple of years and I don't get the impression that these young men are just innocent kids. The boys that play just for the fun of playing and wil never play major college or pro ball get my respect and concern. The Fergusons and Odens are hired guns looking for a way to promote themselves and to get the best shot they can get at the next level. They hold press conferences, are fawned over and are treated like royalty. If this the path they choose to walk, they get the good with the bad.

  • thom12

    Remember Jeff Robinson could not get into Purdue due to grades. I guess Ferguson was smart enough to see this and left just in time, so that his college plans, would not be put on hold or slowed down.

  • thom12

    Remember Jeff Robinson could not get into Purdue due to grades. I guess Ferguson was smart enough to see this and left just in time, so that his college plans, would not be put on hold or slowed down.