DUNK CITY, Fla. – Riding the waves of an unprecedented 2012-13 season and a 3-1 start to the 2013-14 campaign, the FGCU men’s basketball team and head coach Joe Dooley has secured a talented incoming freshman class as Zach Johnson, Christian Terrell and Eric Moeller have all signed a National Letter of Intent in the early signing period to join the quickly-ascending program.
Johnson, a 6-2 guard from Miami, inked his NLI on Monday while Terrell, a 6-4 guard out of Jacksonville, and Moeller, a 6-11 forward from St. Louis, signed theirs last Wednesday. All three will join FGCU for the 2014-15 season, with Johnson and Terrell having four years of eligibility and Moeller – who is currently a freshman at JUCO Central Florida – having three years.
“We’re excited about all three guys and expect them to be great additions to our program,” Dooley said of his first class. “They’re all from terrific programs that are used to winning and have been around a culture of working hard and being tough.”
Rated the No. 1 prospect in South Florida byRMF Magazine, the 8th-best prospect in the entire state by Future 150 and a 4-star recruit by the same outlet, Johnson averaged 13.3 points, 4.1 assists and 2.7 steals per game at Miami Norland High School last year. Johnson erupted for a game-high 29 points against Pines Charter in the 6A Regional semifinals and then earned State Final Four MVP after leading the Vikings to their second consecutive 6A Championship in the highest level of high school basketball in Florida.
Johnson, who is ranked as one of the top 100 players in the entire nation and No. 27 at his position by Future 150, chose FGCU over a pair of Atlantic 10 Conference schools.
“Zach brings a great presence to our program. He’s from a great program in Norland High School and coach (Lawton) Williams has done an outstanding job coaching him,” Dooley said of the guard. “He brings some toughness and some versatility on the perimeter for us.”
“He’s a strong, athletic hard worker who is a real good slasher and will get to the basket,” Williams, Johnson’s high school coach, said. “He’s a great on-ball defender and will bring intensity every night. He’s going to help FGCU a lot and it was the best fit for him.”
Joining Johnson on the perimeter will be Terrell, who first made national headlines this past summer for a soaring dunk which has nearly 1.3 million views on YouTube. The combo guard averaged 11.2 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists per game last season as a junior at Jacksonville Providence High School, helping lead the program to the Class 3A Championship in 2012-13.
Like Johnson, Terrell is ranked in the top 35 in the state at No. 34 by SourceHoops, a ranking sure to go up as he enters his senior season on a team selected by the same outlet as the best in 3A. Terrell chose FGCU over a few BCS programs, and his Providence team will play in the elite City of Palms Classic in December in Fort Myers, giving Eagles fans a great opportunity to see the athletic combo wing.
“Christian is a guy with tremendous upside, just like Zach,” Dooley commented. “They’ve got skills, but their potential is better than what they are right now and that’s what’s exciting. When he adds some strength and becomes a consistent shooter then he’ll really be able to impact our program.”
“He’s a perfect fit for FGCU’s style and up-tempo play,” Terrell’s high school coach Jim Martin said. “He’s extremely athletic and at 6-4 can jump out of the gym. He’s just as good at the 1 as he is the 2 and has a huge upside. Christian is a big-time winner who is a smart kid with a great basketball IQ and is defensively sound.”
Moeller was a preferred walk-on at Missouri last season after averaging 11 points and 5 rebounds per game as a senior at De Smet High School in his native St. Louis. Moeller is currently at Central Florida in Ocala, the reigning National Junior College Champions, and originally had scholarship offers from the Eagles and a pair of mid-major programs coming out of high school before choosing FGCU.
Moeller is one of three current Central Florida players who have already signed to play at the Division-I level, with several more expected to follow suit. While at De Smet, Moeller was teammates with current Butler freshman Nolan Berry.
“Eric is a very skilled frontcourt player who will fit in perfectly with our style of play,” Dooley surmised. “He can play in the post and is comfortable on the perimeter. I think with added strength he can be a terrific player us and we’re excited about having him for three years.”
“Eric is an intelligent, skilled big man who finishes well around the basket and is a nightmare for his opponents,” said his current coach at Central Florida, Tim Ryan. “He has the ability to also step out on the perimeter and knock down the outside shot.”
FGCU will return all but one letterwinner next year as Chase Fieler (Parkersburg, W. Va./Parkersburg South HS) is the lone senior on the current roster. Additionally, Dooley brought in three high-major transfers in Julian DeBose, Brian Greene, Jr. and Marc Eddy-Norelia who will be eligible next year, in addition to walk on Nick Pellar, who – like Greene – transferred from Auburn.
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2013-14 men’s basketball season tickets are selling quickly, and only a limited amount remain. New this year are mini-plan packages for all games, with the exception of “Breakfast at the Beach,” and individual-game tickets are now on sale. Fans can reserve their seat(s) by visiting the Alico Arena Ticket Office, calling 239-590-7145 or logging on to FGCUAthletics.com/Tickets.