Fairfield University head men’s basketball coach Sydney Johnson headed north on I-95 on the recruiting trail, and came up with three New England gems. The future is bright for the Stags.
Two Massachusetts products – sophomore Tyler Nelson (Bradford, MA/Central Catholic) and freshman Curtis Cobb (Fall River, MA/Wilbraham & Monson) – and a third who prepped in Massachusetts – Jerry Johnson, Jr. (Notre Dame Prep/Fitchburg, MA [by way of Tennessee]) – have helped Fairfield (7-6) equal last season’s win total with the Stags seventh victory on Monday night over Dartmouth.
The trio of backcourt standouts are led by Nelson, Fairfield’s second leading scorer with 14.5 ppg on the heels of his All-Rookie team selection in the MAAC last year. Nelson scored 20 in the Dartmouth win.
Cobb chipped in with 16, equaling his career best, and is averaging 8.1 ppg, fifth on the Stags scoring leader board.
Johnson, Jr. scored his career high 20 points in the 97-85 triumph, hitting five of Fairfield’s 12 three-point field goals, and averages 10.1 ppg as Fairfield’s third leading scorer. The trio is averaging 32.7 ppg, while the Stags score 80.4 ppg.
Senior forward Marcus Gilbert, a product of Smyrna, Delaware, leads all Fairfield scorers with 19.5 ppg.
Here’s some biographical information on Fairfield’s New England triumvirate:
More on Nelson:
2014-15: Nelson emerged as one of the MAAC’s top freshmen which was backed up by his appearance on the MAAC’s All-Rookie team. The guard became one of the conference’s top three-point threats by netting 64 shots from behind the three-point line, the most since Jermaine Clark’ posted 70 three pointers as a freshman. Nelson averaged 17.5 points per game over the final six regular-season games and hit double-figures in each of those contests. The rookie scored 10 or more points in 15 games, second only to Marcus Gilbert (27 games). He scored 24 points against South Dakota in his fourth career game, his only 20-point performance until he reached the mark in back-to-back games late in the year (26 vs. Saint Peter’s and 23 at Canisius). He was one of three Stags to have more assists (41) than turnovers (40). He just missed reaching the top ten for three-point field goal percentage in a season as his .424 field goal percentage was shy of Michael Van Schaick’s mark of .430 (2005-06 season). His three-point shooting was effective when he could take multiple shots, making 61 of 135 attempts (.451) when he tried four or more three-point field goals in a game. When he shot three or less three-point attempts in a contest, he made 3 of 16 shots (.188).
Before Fairfield: Nelson joins the Stags basketball program after securing the Massachusetts Gatorade Player of the Year award in 2013-14. He is an All-Conference player who scored 1,443 career points while attending Central Catholic High School. He took his high school team to the state championship game with a 22-6 record before falling four points short. Nelson averaged 22 points and six rebounds per game as a senior and netted 70 three-point field goals. He ended his career with 230 three pointers, averaging better than two made per game. He was named the Lawrence Eagle-Tribune Most Valuable Player for the second straight year following the 2013-14 campaign. He was a two-time Merrimack Valley Conference (MVC) Player of the Year and a two-time ESPN Boston All-State player. As a junior, Nelson averaged 16.2 points per game and was named to the All-MVC Team. He helped the Raiders win the MVC Large and Division 1 North sectional title. Nelson also was the MVC Most Valuable Player as a golfer, winning a conference individual championship during his career.
More on Cobb: Cobb, a 6-4, 175-pound guard, comes to Fairfield as a highly-rated guard who is ranked sixth in Massachusetts (Class of 2015) by ESPN. He is listed as a three-star recruit by several recruiting services including Scout, Rivals, Yahoo Sports, and 24/7 Composite. He earned All-NEPSAC first team honors as a member of Wilbraham and Monsoon Academy and was a 2015 McDonald’s All-America nominee. He was a member of the New England Preparatory School Athletic Council (NEPSAC) first team in 2014-15.
More on Johnson, Jr.: Johnson ranked 13th in Massachusetts (Class of 2015) and 48th overall in New England by New England Recruiting Report (NERR). He was listed as a two-star recruit by VerbalCommits.com and was picked as an All-Metro player in Memphis following the 2013-14 campaign. His versatile scoring and high basketball IQ helped Notre Dame Prep qualify for the prestigious 2015 National Prep Championship tournament.