Francis Marion University men's basketball coach Gary Edwards has announced the signing of 6-2 guard Alex Cox of Concord, N.C., 6-7 forward Winston Hill of Columbia, 6-8 forward Gavin Johnson (pictured right) of Mt. Juliet, Tenn., and 6-7 wing player Kailex Stephens of Tuscaloosa, Ala., to national letters of intent during the recent signing period. All four are high school seniors.
Cox is a senior at the Cannon School, where he played for coach Che' Roth. This past season, he averaged 15 points, five rebounds, two assists, and two steals per game while serving as team captain for the Cougars. He was selected to play in the North Carolina boys' private school All-Star Game in Charlotte.
"Alex is a really good shooter, including from three-pointer range," Edwards said. "He comes from a quality program coached by a good friend of mine. Having played at a high level of competition, Alex possesses outstanding fundamentals and is a good fit for our system of play."
Hill comes to FMU from Irmo High School, where he played for legendary coach Tim Whipple – the same program that produced former Patriot guard Detrek Browning who recently set the all-time FMU scoring record.
Hill averaged 17.2 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 2.2 steals per game as a senior while helping lead the Yellow Jackets to a 21-8 record and an appearance in the 5A state championship game. He connected on 58.5 percent of his field goal attempts and 70.4 percent of his free throws. He earned both All-State and All-Region accolades and was named to play in the SC/NC All-Star Game. He was also named the WLTX Player of the Week once during his final year and was named to his school's Athletic Academic Honor Roll.
"The inking of Winston is a big signing for us. He can play multiple position and his size and strength around the basket will help in rebounding, defending, and scoring. In addition to scoring inside, he can also step away from the basket and put the ball in the hoop. He is more physically prepared to play right away than your typical freshman. Anyone who plays for coach Whipple will be fundamental sound and leaves high school knowing how to play and how to win."
Johnson attends Wilson Central High School, where he played for coach Chris Carney. He averaged 11.6 points and 6.9 rebounds per game last season, while draining 38 percent of his three-point attempts. During his senior season, he surpassed 1,000 career points, was named to the District 9AAA All-Tournament Team, earned second-team All-Wilson County honors from The Wilson Post, and was selected to play in the BCAT East-West All-Star Game. He was also named the Wildcats' best offensive player for the fourth time. A four-year letterman, he garnered All-District accolades as a junior.
"Gavin is a big guy who can shoot it and has good mobility. Our system will fit his skill set perfectly. He can do a little bit of everything (pass, handle, shoot), can play several positions, and has tremendous potential. I am looking for him to contribute as a freshman."
Stephens is a senior at Paul W. Bryant High School, where he played for coach Shon Peck-Love. He was one of four players to sign collegiate letters of intent off the 2017-18 Stampede squad that went 30-5 and made a second consecutive Class 6A state championship game appearance. The Stampede won the state title in 2017.
Stephens was named to both the Regional and All-State Tournament Teams, and was named All-State honorable mention.
"Kailex is a long and lean multi-talented player. He is very athletic and excels in the transition game. He can handle the ball and shoot, can play multiple positions, and has the potential to be a big scorer for us. He is a good get and should contribute for us as a freshman."
Edwards previously announced the signing of 6-7 forward Juan Perez of Florence and 6-2 guard Gabriel Dickerson of Suffolk, Va., during last winter's early signing period.
"I could not be happier with our recruiting class for the upcoming year," Edwards added. "This group represents the direction we want to go, taking young players and developing them."
Francis Marion loses four seniors off last season's 20-10 squad that placed third during the Peach Belt Conference regular season and earned a bid to the NCAA Division II national tournament.