Greenville, S.C. -- Guards Mike Bothwell, Jaylon Pugh, and Andrew Taylor, along forward Jalen Slawson, have signed to join the Furman men's basketball program for the 2018-19 season, it was announced on Wednesday by first-year Paladin head coach Bob Richey.
"I always love signing day," said Richey. "It's a great day when guys choose to be a part of our program. We are a developmental program with a very strong culture, and these four young men were all attracted to that. They saw how hard we work and how much we invest into their personal growth, and they also took note of how players are staying here and not leaving. I look forward to watching Jaylon, Andrew, Jalen, and Mike develop into great people and players! On the basketball court, they all carry a high level of skill, versatility, and athleticism that will help us continue forward, as well as, add the competitive depth that we like."
Bothwell, a native of Willoughby, Ohio, averaged 21 points, 7.6 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game as a junior for head coach Dan Selle at Cornerstone Christian Academy.
"Everyone on the coaching staff at Cornerstone Christian Academy is thrilled that Mike Bothwell has decided to pursue his academic and athletic career at Furman University," said Selle. "Furman gives Mike the opportunity to get an elite education and play basketball for a wonderful program led by a coaching staff that cares deeply for their players. We are very proud of Mike and know that he'll do big things on and off the court at Furman."
Bothwell, a 6-foot-3 guard, earned first team All-Ohio and Division IV District Player of the Year accolades last season. As a sophomore in 2015-16, he led his team to a state title en route to earning News-Herald Player of the Year honors.
"Mike is a natural scorer, one of the best in the state," according to John Stovall of Prep Spotlight Ohio. "His ability to score at all levels should translate well to the collegiate game. He should be a true asset for Furman during what should be a very successful career. He is also a great kid!"
"I fell in love with Mike Bothwell the first time I watched film on him," said Richey. "He has some similarities to Devin Sibley in the fact that he can create shots with the ball in his hands and also carries good size and length on the perimeter. Mike is a shot maker but can also hurt you with the ball in his hands. His size will give him the ability to play any of our perimeter spots."
Pugh, who has scored 1,247 points entering his senior season, plays his prep basketball for head coach Mike Tobin at Cartersville High School in Cartersville, Ga.
"Jaylon is one of the hardest workers and best players ever to come through Cartersville High School," said Tobin. "He has improved tremendously each year. As good of a basketball player as he is, he is an even better person. We are excited for Jaylon and know Furman will be very pleased with this fine young man"!
A 6-foot-1 guard, Pugh averaged 20 points and three assists per game on his way to earning Region 5-AAAA Co-Player of the Year honors in 2017. As a sophomore in 2016, he garnered Region 7-AAAA Player of the Year accolades and was a GACA All-State choice.
"Jaylon Pugh fits what Furman is all about with their guards," according to Justin Young of HoopSeen. "For starters, he knows how to score at all three levels. Secondly, he's coming to college as a well-coached, high character young man. Players that have this kind of foundation have always found success at Furman."
"Jaylon is a high level person first and foremost," said Richey. "He brings a great personality and work ethic into our program. On the court, he has ability to stretch the defense with his outside shot and also has good verticality at the rim. He has a lot of tools that you look for when trying to determine how fast someone will develop. We are really looking forward to getting him into our program."
Taylor, a native of Corbin, Ky., and senior at Corbin High School, is entering his final year playing for head coach Tony Pietrowski.
"We are very excited about Andrew signing with Furman," said Pietrowski. "During the process, Andrew looked for a variety of attributes in a school. Furman, without a doubt, checked them all off the list. Andrew has been with our program since his eighth grade year and I've watched him blossom into an outstanding basketball player and even a better person. This is due in large part to his work ethic and value system. Furman is getting a special player and person."
The 6-foot-2 Taylor is a four-time all-district, four-time all-region and three-time all-state selection, who has poured in over 2,000 points during his career at Corbin, which also produced Furman basketball legends Frank Selvy and Jerry Smith. Taylor has averaged 29.5 points, 11.5 rebounds and 5.5 assists per game for the Redhounds.
"Andrew is a worker that loves competition," Richey said. "Every time I talked to Andrew during the process, he was constantly doing things to improve himself. His attitude towards work, combined with his skill set, will give him an opportunity to be a great player here. Andrew is a three-level scorer with his ability to attack the rim and make outside shots, and he also can play multiple guard spots on the perimeter. He also gives us length, size and athletic ability on the perimeter."
The fourth member of the signing class, Slawson, plays his high school basketball for head coach Pat Eidson at Pinewood Prep in Summerville, S.C.
"Jalen is an extremely versatile player who can fill up a stat sheet," said Eidson. "He has tremendous upside as a player and will continue to get better. He is a great kid and I think he and Furman are a perfect fit."
Slawson, a 6-foot-7 forward, has averaged 15.3 points, 6.4 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game, while shooting 50% from the field and 33% from beyond the arc at Pinewood. He earned High School Sports Report SCISA AAA All-State honors as a junior.
"We're talking about a versatile basketball player that has a great frame with tremendous length and athleticism," said Rick Lewis of Phenom Hoops, when asked about Slawson. "Walking onto the court, you immediately take note of Jalen. He is built like a basketball player and carries himself like a player. While Jalen has strong physical attributes, we have been equally impressed with his vocal leadership on the court. Offensively, he has all the tools. He can score from all three levels and can stretch the defense with his efficient 3-point shooting ability. Every year, Jalen has continued to improve and get better. He's the type of player that may just be better in college than in high school and that is saying a lot."
"He's another high level personality with the tools to develop into a really good basketball player, said Richey of the Summerville, S.C., native. "Jalen's athleticism and ability to play over the rim will remind a lot of our fans of Kris Acox. He also possesses a skill set that will give him the ability to stretch the floor and be a threat on the perimeter. He will give us a unique player that can protect and score it at the rim but also be able to play in space."
The Paladins open the 2017-18 season on Friday when they host the Bob Jones Bruins at Timmons Arena. Tip-off is slated for 7 p.m. and tickets are available online at FurmanPaladins.com or by visiting the Timmons Arena Box Office.
Friday's season opener will be streamed live on the SoCon Digital Network with live statistics available through StatBroadcast. Links for both the video stream and live statistics can be found at FurmanPaladins.com.
Furman Basketball Newcomers
Player Pos. Ht. Wt. Hometown High School
Mike Bothwell G 6-3 170 Willoughby, Ohio Cornerstone Christian Academy
Jaylon Pugh G 6-1 160 Cartersville, Ga. Cartersville H.S.
Andrew Taylor G 6-2 185 Corbin, Ky. Corbin H.S.
Jalen Slawson F 6-7 195 Summerville, S.C. Pinewood Preparatory School
*- Click on the player's name to watch highlights.
Jordan Caskey, Furman Sports Information