BURLINGAME -- It's been an unusual journey for Frankie Ferrari, going from Burlingame to Archbishop Riordan and back home to Burlingame. But it could be a memorable finish for one of the Central Coast Section's top scorers.
The USF-bound guard, who brings so much more to the court than scoring, is playing a starring role for a team that is 21-3 and champion of the Peninsula Athletic League South Division.
In addition to a scoring average of 21.4 points per game, Ferrari averages 7.3 assists, 5.9 rebounds and 3.1 steals.
"His passing skills are as good as I've ever seen,'' said Burlingame coach Pete Harames, a veteran coach who has been around San Mateo County high school basketball for a half century. "He sees things few see.''
Ferrari has seen plenty during his high school career. He had a good sophomore season at Burlingame but, in a family decision, transferred to Riordan for his junior year. As it turned out, Riordan was not a great basketball fit for Ferrari. The team already had a pair of quick ballhandling guards and, as a result, Ferrari was used primarily as a shooting guard and 3-point specialist.
"It was a whole new world, every aspect of it,'' Ferrari said. "Going up to (San Francisco) every day, the weather, the kids.''
Ferrari had to sit out the first 10 games at Riordan as a transfer. He finished the season second on the team in scoring at 10.8 points per game, with 52 of his 77 field goals coming from 3-point range.
"I slid over to the two, which was pretty uncomfortable for me,'' he said. "I see myself as a point guard, a pass-first guy. It was very frustrating, just totally different, catching and shooting, coming off screens. I had some good games and some really awful games.''
After Ferrari's junior year, his parents divorced, and his mother wanted Frankie and younger brother, Vinnie, to go back to Burlingame. He was granted a hardship transfer with no sit-out period attached due to the divorce.
"When we went to Riordan, we were leaving home at 6 in the morning and returning around 8 or 9 at night,'' Ferrari said. "She wanted us closer to home.''
Burlingame was coming off a CCS Division III championship season, the first section boys basketball title in school history. But with Ferrari coming back, there was a chance to be even better this season.
"I was really happy when I heard,'' said Burlingame center Nick Loew, a four-year varsity player. "I knew with Frankie coming back, we'd have a veteran point guard, a really tough player and a really good leader.''
Ferrari spent the summer putting on a series of impressive performances for Burlingame's summer-league team at a USF team camp and with his father's AAU team, catching the attention of a number of college programs. He orally committed in July to USF, coached by former NBA player and San Jose native Rex Walters, and signed a letter of intent in November.
"I love coach Walters,'' Ferrari said. "I thought he was real, told the truth from the get-go.''
Passion for the game
Paul Ferrari, Frankie's father, is a longtime coach. He coached the Burlingame frosh-soph team for a decade while Frankie was growing up.
"Frankie would never miss a practice,'' Paul Ferrari said. "When he was in seventh grade, he practiced with my frosh-soph team six days a week, and he competed. Sometimes at night after he did his homework, he'd say he wanted to go shoot some more. I'd open the gym, and we'd get games together at midnight.''
"Sometimes," Frankie said, "we didn't leave the gym until 1 or 2 in the morning.''
Ferrari's senior season has been an unqualified success. Harames allows Ferrari plenty of freedom, and the senior guard has responded, playing with a high degree of creativity and flair.
"Frankie is our hardest worker,'' said Harames, who took Capuchino to a state final in 1995. "I try to let him be a coach on the floor. He's a lot of fun to watch.''
Burlingame's three losses were to two strong East Bay teams, Campolindo by three when Ferrari scored a season-high 38 and St. Joseph-Notre Dame by five. The other loss was to Half Moon Bay by 13 when an ailing Ferrari played only the second half.
Burlingame and Half Moon Bay haven't played since but could meet in the PAL Tournament final Saturday at Capuchino.
Then it's on to the CCS playoffs, where Burlingame is expected to be part of the Open Division field, something Ferrari hopes happens.
"I would rather play the best competition than win Division III," Ferrari said. "I think we can make some noise in the Open. We have enough firepower to do it, and everybody knows their role.''