There were hints that the two best players in San Francisco high school basketball would go to the same college to extend their playing careers.
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In conversation, Joshua Fox and Taylor Johns, the seniors that led Sacred Heart Cathedral to the Division III state championship game, would say things like, “we haven’t made a decision yet.”
The hints ended up being based in fact, and after a visit to UC Riverside over the weekend, the pair has verbally committed to play for the Highlanders. They will likely sign letters of intent on Wednesday or when they return from spring break early next week.
“It was important [that we went together], because we want to play together,” said Johns, a 6-foot-6 forward. “We have a good chemistry, played AAU together and played together in high school since we were sophomores. We’re like brothers.”
The two friends are happy to be playing with each other at the next level, but Fox stressed that it wasn’t a priority unless it was the right fit. Louisiana-Monroe was also interested in the pair as a package deal, but Fox received interest alone from Columbia and Cornell, while Johns had interest from Portland and Sacramento State.
“We loved the opportunity schools gave us to play together, because we love to play together,” said Fox, a 6-foot-5 forward in high school that figures to be a wing player in college. “We didn’t jump into the decision and we like the school for the right reasons.”
The Highlanders went 14-17 last season and 7-9 in Big West Conference play, but only return four scholarship players. The Big West will add Hawaii in basketball next season and San Diego State the following year, and that increased competition added to the allure for Johns and Fox, but both players wanted to be a part of building the program as a part of a crucial incoming freshman class.
The idea of getting early playing time didn’t hurt either.
“That was one of the biggest things, getting early playing time and making an impact on the program,” Fox said. “We don’t want to go to college to sit on the bench.”
Both also credited the UC Riverside coaching staff and head coach Jim Wooldridge as factors in their decision.