There are plenty of schools besides Florida Gulf Coast University where Christian Terrell could’ve taken his basketball talents.
He played on a high-school state championship team at Jacksonville Providence (with Grayson Allen, a McDonald’s All-American and current Duke University guard). At the City of Palms Classic in Fort Myers — one of the elite scholastic tournaments in the United States — he won the holiday event’s 3-point contest as a senior while averaging 16 points and eight rebounds, competing against some of the best high-school players in the country.
By the time he lit up the Bishop Verot High School gym at the City of Palms in 2013, however, Terrell had already found his college home. He had committed to FGCU, which had emerged on the national stage after its Dunk City men’s basketball run to the NCAA Sweet 16 in 2013.
“It just felt comfortable … I really felt at home when I came to this beautiful campus,” said Terrell, who lived in West Palm Beach while growing up. “And I love the beach. I try to spend as much time as I can there in the summer.”
The decision to attend FGCU has been beneficial to both Terrell and the Eagles. He made the Atlantic Sun Conference All-Freshman Team in 2014-15 as FGCU’s most versatile first-year player, then capped a great sophomore season by being named to the Atlantic Sun All-Tournament Team as he helped the Eagles to the championship, then led the Eagles with 15 points, seven rebounds and seven assists against eventual NCAA national runner-up North Carolina in the NCAA Tournament. As a junior, he averaged more than 10 points per game while upping his personal defensive game in helping FGCU to a school-record 26 wins, another ASUN title and an NCAA bid in 2016-17.
This season, as he joins his teammates for in the National Invitation Tournament, Terrell has been one of the hottest Eagles down the stretch, averaging almost 18 points in the final quarter of the regular season. He enters the 2018 NIT Tournament having been part of more than 90 FGCU wins and the most successful four-year class in school history.
But for the communication major who hopes to play professionally and eventually coach the game he loves, FGCU also has provided meaning beyond basketball and days at the beach.
“I really enjoyed being part of the Eagle Reading program, getting the chance to go into elementary schools and read books to the younger kids,” Terrell said, referring to one of the FGCU Athletics community-outreach programs that helped the university become one of three 2017 finalists for the first CoSIDA Community Service Award. “We enjoyed it as much as the students. It’s a really rewarding experience.”
What makes FGCU basketball so great?
Sure, it’s the players, but it’s more than that. It’s the coaches and the cheerleaders. It’s Azul and his hip moves. It’s the pep band and the Dancing E’Gals and, of course, the shouting, stamping, screaming, leaping Dirty Birds who ramp up the energy in the Nest. This is part of a series of profiles of some of those who put their hearts and souls into making Eagles basketball the force it has become.