Saints' all-conference performer selects Mount Olive
By Ryan Hanchett
Published in Sports on June 19, 2011 1:51 AM
Khari Faison looked across the country for an opportunity to play college basketball. In the end, his best offer came from his own backyard.
The power forward from Southern Wayne High School will join head coach Joey Higginbotham and the Mount Olive College men's basketball program in the fall.
"I had a lot of different schools take a look at me," said Faison. "I had my choice of junior colleges and Division II schools in Michigan, Virginia and South Carolina, but honestly Mount Olive felt like it was the best fit for me."
Faison made a name for himself on the hardwood at Southern Wayne where he rose through the ranks as a sophomore and became a three-year starter for head coach Russell Stephens. Faison gained Stephens' favor with his willingness to learn the game on the fly and a dedication to defense.
"Khari came through the program and the first thing I noticed was his pure athleticism," said Stephens. "He has long arms and can really get up on the glass and go after rebounds as well as block shots."
Faison's capable, but raw, offensive game began to come together as a senior. Last season, he averaged 14.2 points per game to go along with 10.8 rebounds and two blocked shots. Faison earned all-Eastern Carolina 3-A Conference honors for the second straight season.
With an obvious need at the post positions, Higginbotham was eager to get his hands on Faison. The third-year Trojan head coach attended several Southern Wayne games last season.
"We are excited to add Khari to our Trojan family," said Higginbotham. "He has loads of potential and is a very good athlete. Khari played for an outstanding coach in Russell Stephens at Southern Wayne. He will give us immediate help inside and on the boards."
Mount Olive suffered injuries to forwards Kason Cheeks and Craig Hayes, which exposed a lack of depth in the paint last season. The 6-foot-5, 225-pound Faison possesses the necessary size to become an impact player early in his college career.
"That is one of the big things that I liked about Mount Olive," said Faison. "It's close to home so I can get into the gym over the summer and get into the program right away. I feel like I have the ability to learn quickly and hopefully help the team win games as soon as next season."
Mount Olive posted a 14-13 overall record last season. Faison will be joined in the Trojans' 2011 recruiting class by guards Kendall Hargrove, Darrell Patterson and Jordan McCain, each of whom played their high school basketball in the state of Virginia.
Faison plans to major in sports management.
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