South Forsyth small forward Evan Cole became the first Forsyth County basketball player to commit to a Division I college for the 2016-17 school year, committing to UNC-Wilmington over the weekend.
Cole made his commitment announcement Sunday on Twitter.
“It is a dream come true to play D-I basketball,” Cole said. “After sitting down with my family and coaches, I’m blessed to say that I am committing to play for Coach Keatts and his staff at the University of North Carolina Wilmington!”
Wilmington is an upstart mid-major program located on the southern North Carolina coastline. The Seahawks went 25-8 during the regular season last year and won the Colonial Athletic Association championship before nearly upsetting Duke in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament.
Head coach Kevin Keatts is entering his third season with the Seahawks after making two NCAA Final Four appearances while an assistant at the University of Louisville.
Cole said his relationship with Keatts materialized quickly and felt genuine after he received an offer in early July. At the time of the offer Cole was inundated with a list of nearly 20 scholarship letters, including some from Georgia State, his parent’s alma mater.
“Keatts just really made it clear and understandable about how he wants to develop me as a wing player, what he wants me to be. I saw a vision with him and just felt really comfortable with him, the staff, and honestly the players,” Cole said. “On my visit the guys on the team made me comfortable right away, just in 48 hours. I got to hang out with them, sit in on some classes. The campus has a really cozy feel. It just felt right.”
Cole will join a familiar face at Wilmington as well. The only other Georgia native on the team’s roster is sophomore Devontae Cacok, a forward who used to play for Alpharetta and against Cole on the AAU circuit.
Cole’s only other official visit was with Valparaiso in Indiana. He had visits scheduled with Appalachian State and Wofford but canceled them soon after his visit to Wilmington.
“I was actually planning on visiting all four schools and making my decision in mid-September,” Cole said. “But I felt so good about Wilmington, so I was thinking, why wait? I didn’t want to waste other coaches' time because I knew right away where I wanted to be.”