Richard Davenport covers recruiting for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. He appears weekly on The Red Zone w/ JB on 92.1 FM Fayetteville, The Morning Rush w/ Tye & Tommy on 95.3 FM in Fort Smith; 96.3 FM in Hot Springs; 104.3 FM in Harrison/Mountain Home, 99.5 FM in Fayetteville and The Zone w/ Justin & Wess on 103.7 FM in Little Rock.
The Recruiting Guy:
Weights big part of Derrian Ford's training
Magnolia guard Derrian Ford (20) reacts, Friday, March 6, 2020 during a basketball game at Cardinal Arena at Farmington High School in Farmington.
Magnolia junior guard Derrian Ford’s strength is more like that of an athlete on the football field than on the basketball court.
Weight training is a big part of Ford’s workouts and has helped him become one of the more sought-after prospects in the nation for the 2022 class.
“My dad always told me you got to have a body to play this game,” Ford said. “So we always put weights into our workouts.”
Ford, 6-4, 204 pounds, has more than 20 scholarship offers from schools such as Arkansas, Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Missouri, Texas A&M, Kansas, Vanderbilt, Baylor, Oklahoma State and TCU. LSU was the latest to offer him on Dec. 23.
During the offseason, his father, Darnell, who played point guard at Southern Arkansas, puts Ford through weight training three days a week for 30-45 minutes. The younger Ford does four sets of 10 in numerous lifts, including bench press, lat pulls, shoulder press, curls, incline bench press, military press, squats and more.
The hard work has produced a best of 295 pounds on the bench press along with the ability to do 10 reps of 225 pounds in the same lift.
His above-average strength gives him an advantage over opponents.
“I’m able to [use] my body against defenders,” said Ford, whose father at age 52 has benched pressed 355 pounds. “I have quickness and strength, so that gives me an advantage over more people because usually people just have quickness or they have a lot of strength. So I have both.”
Physical play in the lane doesn’t impact Ford as much as others because of his thicker and stronger body.
“It feels normal to me just like a normal layup,” Ford said
According to nflcombineresults.com, three cornerbacks, four receivers and a running back did 10 reps or less of 225 pounds on the bench press at the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine.
As an example, former Ohio State cornerback Jeff Okudah, who was the third overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, did 11 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press at the combine.
Opposing players have commented on Ford’s strength.
“I usually just tell them I work out a little bit,” Ford said.
Nothing But Net Magazine’s Van Coleman, who has been scouting high school prospects since 1976, rates Ford a 4-star recruit and the No. 61 overall prospect in the nation.
“Amazing strength for high school backcourt talent who uses that strength to finish in traffic at the rim,” Coleman said.
Coleman is on the McDonald’s All-American game and Naismith Player of the Year selection committees. Former Iowa point guard Andre Woolridge is the only other basketball prospect that Coleman can recall with Ford’s strength.
“I had [a] camper in Andre Woolridge who could bench similar numbers in high school who later benched over 350 in college,” Coleman said. “He’s only one at similar size I remember close to that. He looked like an NFL running back with the shirt off.”
Ford still does light weights during the season.
“I usually just do reps every day just to keep my body tight,” Ford said.
When not playing basketball, lifting weights and doing homework, Ford is often talking to college coaches.
Arkansas, Alabama, Florida, Auburn, Vanderbilt Georgetown LSU, Georgia Tech, Ole Miss and Texas A&M are the schools in constant contact with Ford.
Arkansas Coach Eric Musselman and at least six other staff members communicate with Ford and his family.
“I talk a lot to the Arkansas staff,” Ford said. “Almost all of them really. It’s almost every day.”
Ford said he usually talks to 2-3 staff members from the other schools. He has no time frame as to when he might narrow his list or make his college decision.
“I’m 17 years old, still trying to figure things out,” Ford said.
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