Simel Boyd, David Turner recognized at Senior Night

Robert Faulkner, Guest Writer

Senior Night is that time of the year when the majority of colleges around the country recognize their senior athletes for hard work over the past years; however, for two seniors who attend Francis Marion University, senior night was a rare experience.

Francis Marion Patriots’ head basketball coach, Gary Edwards, started his tenure at the university four years ago and signed his first two recruits, 6 feet 6 inch small forward Simel Boyd and 6 feet 8 inch power forward David Tuner, both from Goose Creek, S.C.. For Edwards, these two recruits were his first two players to have finished a full four-year collegiate basketball career.

The reason that they’re the only two to have completed a four-year collegiate basketball career is not the fact that the university only had two student athletes to graduate from the basketball program in the last four years. The explanation of this otherwise discouraging statistic of Francis Marion’s basketball program is more due to the head coaches’ preferences.

Over the past four years Edwards has focused his recruiting on transfer students from junior colleges, as well as Division I universities.

Coach Edwards explained how he recruits high school players to come into the basketball program and be the foundation of the team, then looks to transfers to reinforce the team.

“You’ve got to have a foundation, and that’s what Simel and Dave were to our team,”  Edwards said. “Transfers are just icing on the cake.”

Michael Hawkins, the associate athletic director for media relations and marketing at Francis Marion University and former chairman of the Peach Belt Conference SIDs Committee, explained that FMU is not the only men’s basketball team in the Peach Belt Conference to heavily recruit transfer players. At USC Aiken eight out of the 15 players on the men’s basketball team are transfer players, as well as for Clayton Sate University where nine out of the 15 players are transfer players.

“It seems to be a way of life for Peach Belt men’s basketball,”  Hawkins said. “Transfers are better equipped to play right away.”

Reflecting on fond memories of their collegiate career, Boyd and Turner both expressed that their time together playing basketball at FMU was a sometimes eventful, yet great learning experience, and that they would not trade it for anything.

They are now preparing with their team to make a deep run into the Peach Belt Conference Tournament. Boyd was a preseason All American and had a successful career by becoming only the seventh Patriot to place in the top 20 among points, rebounds and steals.

He expects to graduate at the end of spring semester, and plans to play professional basketball overseas. As for Turner, he plans to graduate next December and wants to enlist in the U.S. Army.