One day after he committed to Cal State Northridge, Theodore Roosevelt forward Jibreel Faulkner signed a National Letter-of-Intent with the school Wednesday, while teammate Johnnie Shuler officially signed with La Salle.
On Tuesday night, Faulkner became the second Theodore Roosevelt player to commit to a school in the past two weeks, after Shuler, the team’s starting point guard, pledged to La Salle earlier this month. Both signed with their respective colleges iat a ceremony at the Northwest school Wednesday afternoon, in a move that Rough Riders Coach Rob Nickens declared a significant moment in the school’s basketball history.
“Signing makes it official, and it feels official. It gets a lot of burden off your shoulders,” Faulkner said. “It was hard work to get here, and just keeping the hard work going on.”
The 6-foot-7 Faulkner burst onto the scene as a junior, averaging 7.2 points per game and establishing himself as one of the best defensive players in the city for the Rough Riders during their 24-6 campaign. He garnered plenty of recruiting attention through the spring, ranging from schools such as Seton Hall and Quinnipiac, but said his choice came down to Cal State Northridge and Austin Peay.
Faulkner didn’t visit Cal State Northridge, but part of the school’s allure was the presence of first-year coach Reggie Theus, a former NBA star and head coach who was hired last spring. Faulkner called Theus Wednesday morning, adding that he was “humbled to be his understudy.”
“I can learn many things from him, because he was a big solid guard,” Faulkner said. “It’s just a learning lesson, and it’s going to be a great experience.”
Shuler, one of the city’s most highly regarded prospects, ended his recruiting suspense earlier in November when he committed to La Salle just two days after visiting the school’s campus in Philadelphia. He chose the Explorers over a handful of other school’s offering, including Seton Hall, Fairfield and Quinnipiac, convinced that the team’s tendency to play up-tempo would fit his style best. Shuler averaged 9.8 points per game as a junior, and along with Faulkner, will form one of the best tandems in the DCIAA this season.
Shuler was all smiles Wednesday, flanked by family, coaches and mentors, donning a navy blue La Salle hoodie. But after the celebratory session, he was already talking about the preparations he needs to make in the next eight months, before he makes the leap to college ball.
“I have to work on being more vocal…just getting stronger. I have to work on pull-up jump shots off the screen,” Shuler said. “It’s a lot of stress off your shoulders, and it makes you just want to focus on your work now, and just play ball now.”
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