In speaking with Freeport boys basketball coach Bob DeBonis for this story on his upcoming induction into the New York State Basketball Hall of Fame, we spoke about how important it was to DeBonis that many of his players went on to college -- even if they didn’t play basketball there.

One of those players was current New York Jets offensive lineman D’Brickashaw Ferguson. “Brick,” as DeBonis called him, played one year of basketball as a senior for Freeport. That was the 2001-02 season.

“He tried wrestling the year before and said it wasn’t for him,” DeBonis said of Ferguson, who was listed at 6’5” and 250 pounds on national football recruiting Web sites at the time.

DeBonis said the season Ferguson was on the basketball team, he was more like an assistant coach because he was so well respected by the other players, having already generated interest from Division I colleges for his football ability.

Ferguson really helped with one player in particular that DeBonis had a tough time getting through to. DeBonis said he would give the player instructions and he wouldn’t listen. Ferguson would tell the kid the same thing and he would listen.

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“Brick was important to me, because he was like a mentor to this kid. The kid was from Trinidad and could be a little crazy at times,” DeBonis said.

DeBonis also had Ferguson as a student when he was in fifth grade at Atkinson School. The coach continues to teach physical education there today.

Ferguson went on be a lineman at the University of Virginia, where he was an All-American. “A great kid,” DeBonis said.