So Ferrari has done the next-best thing. He's adopted Neff's jersey number as his own.
Ferrari, who wore his-beloved No. 25 throughout his four years in the Wildcats' program, switched to Neff's No. 22 for the rest of the season. He's now sported the number twice in games.
It's a decision Ferrari didn't come by lightly.
Neff played the team's first four games, scoring 20 points against Poca and 21 against Point Pleasant, but then was sidelined with mononucleosis. After missing six games, Neff returned against Woodrow but sustained a torn ACL early in that game and was lost for the rest of the season.
Ferrari felt he needed to pay tribute to his fallen teammate and friend in an appropriate way, and was permitted by coach Bryan Faber to wear Neff's uniform.
"Me and him first played basketball together in the second grade,'' Ferrari said, "and we've been teammates ever since. Really, in the past two summers, we've put in a lot of work outside the program and worked hard for this year.
"To have him play only a couple games like he did . . . I just thought he'd worked hard to be here and play for us, so I just thought I would dedicate the rest of the season and play for him. I know all the hard work he put in to try and make us better. I know it's killing him not being able to play.''
Ferrari and the Wildcats (7-7) are seeking to post the school's first winning record since 2007-08. Last year they finished 12-12 and currently with seven wins, they've already eclipsed their victory total from the three seasons previous to that.
But it hasn't been easy. Because of Neff's illness and injury and two missed games by freshman Trevor Taylor (11.3 points per game), Faber's projected starting five wound up playing just three games together this season.
"We've certainly had to change things,'' Faber said. "Where a lot of the things we had planned on doing as a team, well, we've had to go in a little bit of a different direction because of injuries and illnesses and different issues like that.''
Reach Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or rickr...@wvgazette.com.