After helping First Presbyterian Christian Academy to a Georgia Independent Schools Association basketball state title last season and leading the team to a 29-6 record this year, Highlander DJ Felder is taking his skills to the next level after signing a scholarship to play for St. John’s River State College in Florida.
The signing took place Tuesday afternoon at FPCA with Felder surrounded by his teammates, mom, Highlanders coach David Jones, Rebels coach Ernie Walthour and his future Vikings coach, Buster Harvey.
Felder will join former Highlanders and Rebels teammate Mike Brown, who signed with the Vikings last year. Felder said it was one of the reasons he thought St. John’s would better suit him.
“I always looked at it as a good college and a good opportunity to go somewhere with someone that I trusted and who is like family to me,” he said about going to the junior college and joining Brown. “It’s always been in the back of my mind, but I really thought about it when I visited the campus last year and I like the facilities.”
Felder said the campus is in a small town and he knows the atmosphere will allow him to concentrate on his studies without distractions. He plans to study sports medicine and said he would like to coach basketball one day because he never wants to leave the game.
Harvey said Felder’s height, listed at 6 feet 6, was one of the things that drew his attention.
Felder’s floor skills and the fundamentals instilled in him by the Highlanders and Rebels organizations were an added bonus.
“This is a good quality program, and they’ve been taught not only what they have to do on the basketball court but, just as important, how to conduct themselves off the basketball floor,” Harvey said. “DJ is a big kid who can play inside and also outside and I just think his potential is unlimited; it’s up to DJ. I like the way he carries himself, and I think he is going to be a really great asset and help us win championships.”
Felder averaged 21 points per game and totaled 442 points in his senior season as a Highlander, according to maxpreps.com.
He averaged 18 rebounds per game. Felder also was honored as WTOC’s Player of the Week in January.
Felder said he thinks he’ll start his freshman season and could play as a guard and forward.
“I’ll be working out with the Rebels because they give me the best workouts that I’ve been through,” Felder said about prepping for college sports. “I’ll probably go to St. John’s over the summertime and knock out a class so I can concentrate on the basketball season.”
Highlanders coach David Jones coached Felder when they both were at Bradwell Institute. He said having the opportunity to coach Felder as a Highlander was an extra incentive for joining FPCA as its athletic director and basketball coach two years ago.
“It’s been an enjoyable two years watching him mature and reach this point,” Jones said. “It’s just a great day and I know he has a great future in front of him.”
Jones said Harvey sincerely was interested in Felder, and the Vikings need a solid rebounder.
“DJ is a legitimate inside force,” Jones said. “He has a chance to walk in and get some playing time early. He is the only one who could keep himself out of playing time. I think Buster is a fair and honest man and runs a good program. It’s in a small town and I think it fits him well. They offer a more complete scholarship than most junior colleges are able to offer. He got the total package, and it’s a good deal.”
Felder’s mom, Marcey, said her son was just a few hours old when his dad placed a tiny basketball in his hands.
“He held it for three hours and 45 minutes,” she said. “My baby is growing up and he is going off to school, and I’m just putting him in the hands of the Lord. I always knew it would happen, but I just didn’t know that it would fall in place like it has. We are just waiting to see him do great things, and he is going to do great things.”
“I’m real blessed to get this opportunity. It’s a cool experience,” Felder said.