JONESBORO, Ark. (5/16/19) – Arkansas State men’s basketball head coach Mike Balado announced Wednesday that the Red Wolves have added graduate transfer guard Jerry Johnson Jr., JUCO transfer forward Lony Francis Jr. and Westside High School guard Avery Felts to the 2019-20 recruiting class.
Johnson Jr., Francis and Felts joins the trio of early signees; guard Caleb Fields, guard Malcolm Farrington and forward Antwon Jackson.
“I am excited to announce our latest additions to our 2019 recruiting class,” said Balado. “We feel as though Jerry, Lony and Avery’s combination of skill and leadership will complement the three freshmen we have previously brought in during the early signing period. I am extremely excited to get the opportunity to coach these three high-character young men and aid in their continued development.”
Jerry Johnson Jr. | G | 6-2 | 220 | Memphis, Tenn. | UT Chattanooga
A graduate transfer from UT Chattanooga, Johnson Jr. started in all 32 games while averaging 9.9 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.3 assists. He had a team high 55 made 3-pointers on 33.7 percent (55-163) shooting, was 110-of-287 (.383) from the field and he knocked down 78.8 percent (41-52) at the charity stripe. He snagged a team-high 28 steals while playing 25.8 minutes per game. He logged 15 games in double figures, including a season-high 26 points at Samford.
Johnson Jr. sat out the 2017-18 season after transferring from Fairfield University. He made 55 career appearances at Fairfield averaging 9.8 points and 3.0 rebounds on 36.1 percent shooting from 3-point range. He had 28 double-figure scoring contests, including three 20-point efforts with a 26 point outing at Iona in 2017. He averaged 11.4 points and 3.4 rebounds per game as a sophomore and had more assists (39) than turnovers (28). As a freshman, he averaged 8.3 points and 2.7 rebounds shooting 40.2 percent (43-107) from 3-point range.
He completed one year at Notre Dame Prep in Fitchburg, Mass., and was ranked the No. 13 player in the state and No. 48 in New England by the New England Recruiting Report. He helped lead the Crusaders to the 2015 National Prep Championship tourney. He was an All-Metro performer at Houston High School in Germantown, Tenn. He averaged 20 points, seven rebounds and four assists per game as a senior, 18 points and six assists as a junior. His father, the late Jerry Sr., was a long-time high school coach in Memphis who won more than 400 games coaching at Frayser, Melrose, Kingsbury, Mitchell and Woodale. Jerry Sr. guided Kingsburgy to an AA state championship in 1998 and Mitchell to AA runner-up finishes in 2007 and 2008.
Head Coach Mike Balado
“Adding a proven Division I scorer for this upcoming season was something I felt the team needed, and we found it with Jerry Johnson Jr. Jerry has shown the ability to make perimeter shots throughout his career, but has also shown the ability to finish at the rim, as well as make the players around him better. His strength also gives him the ability to play all three guard spots and adds to his versatility.”
Lony Francis Jr. | F | 6-8 | 220 | Columbus, Ohio | Vincennes University
A two-time NJCAA Honorable Mention All-American, Francis Jr. surpassed 1,000 career points in his two seasons played at Vincennes University. He along with his head coach Todd Franklin will lead the Division I squad in the NJCAA Men’s Basketball Coaches All-Star Game presented by the NABC May 18 in Las Vegas. Francis Jr. helped the Trailblazers to back-to-back appearances in the NJCAA Tournament, including a national championship in 2019, the first for the program since 1972.
Francis averaged a team-high 15.8 points and seven rebounds per game for the 34-2 national champion Trailblazers in 2018-19. He totaled 568 points for the season while shooting 57.3 percent (232-405) from the field. He scored double figures in 33 of the 36 games and reached double figures throughout the NJCAA National Championship run. He had back-to-back 30 point outings in December with a season-high 31 point outing at Kaskaskia. He posted five double-doubles on the year and had back-to-back games in which he pulled down 13 rebounds in wins over Kaskaski (March 6) and Moberly Area (March 20).
In his freshman season, Francis Jr. averaged 12.3 points and a team-high 7.1 rebounds per game helping the Trailblazers to a 34-3 record. He shot 61.1 percent (193-316) from the field and blocked 32 shots on the season. He produced double figures in 23 of the 37 games played. He had double-doubles in seven games with a season-high 24 points and 12 rebounds at Lake Land (Feb. 27).
Francis Jr. prepped at Groveport Madison High and was a honorable mention All-State selection in his senior season.
Head Coach Mike Balado
“In my opinion, Lony Francis was one of the best junior college forwards in the country this year. I am a huge believer in recruiting guys who have been a part of winning teams in the past, and Lony fits that bill coming off a 34-2 season and a national championship this past season at Vincennes. The energy and toughness Lony plays with will surely make him a fan favorite at First National Bank Arena.”
Avery Felts | G | 6-2 | 175 | Jonesboro, Ark. | Westside HS
A four-time All-State selection, Felts wrapped up his prep career scoring 2,707 points at Westside High School. He averaged 20 or more points per game each of his last three seasons and guided the Warriors to a 95-33 record over his four-year career. He led Westside to the state semifinals this past season averaging 22.2 points, six rebounds, four assists and 2.5 steals per game. His junior season, he put up 25.7 points per game, the second-highest average in the state. He was a four-year honoree on The Jonesboro Sun’s ‘Best Under the Sun’ and was named player of the year his senior season. He was named Arkansas Sports Media High School Basketball Super Team first team and will play in the Arkansas High School All-Star game in June.
Head Coach Mike Balado
“Avery Felts is one of the best scorers in the 2019 class in the entire state of Arkansas. His ability to score in bunches, along with his tremendous work ethic, winning attitude and toughness, make him a valuable addition to the team.”
2019-20 Recruiting Class
Malcolm Farrington | G | 6-4 | 195 | West Palm Beach, Fla. | DME Academy
Avery Felts | G 6-2 | 175 | Jonesboro, Ark. | Westside HS
Caleb Fields | G | 6-0 | 185 | Lewisburg, Tenn. | Aspire Academy
Lony Francis Jr. | F | 6-7 | 225 | Columbus, Ohio | Vincennes University
Antwon Jackson | F | 6-7 | 250 | Las Vegas, Nev. | Ed W. Clark HS
Jerry Johnson Jr. | G | 6-2 | 225 | Memphis, Tenn. | UT Chattanooga