HARRISONBURG — One of James Madison’s most-anticipated recruiting classes in recent memory is one man lighter as the Dukes prepare for the 2019-20 season.
Friday afternoon, JMU released a statement to the Daily News-Record saying Mike Fowler, a 6-8 power forward from Raleigh, N.C., had requested a release from his national letter of intent for personal reasons.
Fowler committed to JMU after visiting the school last September and signed with the Dukes in November. He was set to be part of a seven-member incoming freshman class for Madison before his name was removed from the roster on Friday.
A JMU spokesperson said this school would have no other statement on the departure and Fowler, who played for powerhouse Greensboro Day School, hadn’t responded to a request for comment at the time of publication.
The Dukes incoming freshman class is still considered one that could make a quick impact on the program. In addition to Fowler, JMU also signed Michael Christmas, Quinn Richey and Julien Wooden in the fall.
Christmas, a 6-6 swingman from Virginia Beach, was the Virginia High School League Class 6A Player of the Year this past season at Landstown High School. He fielded offers from a long list of schools, including some high-major conference programs before narrowing his list to JMU and Old Dominion.
Richey, a 6-5 shooting guard from suburban Atlanta, chose JMU over offers from Middle Tennessee State and Mississippi State, among others and is considered to be one of the best pure jump shooters in the entire 2019 class. Wooden, from Northside High School in Roanoke, was the VHSL Class 3 Player of the Year, and the high-flying forward chose JMU over Richmond, George Mason and others.
They were joined during the spring signing period by Durham, N.C., guard Jayvis Harvey and Zyon Dobbs from Fairmont, W.Va. Harvey originally committed to Radford before reopening his recruitment and choosing JMU over Hofstra. Dobbs was a late addition to the class after earning his second straight first-team all-state selection in West Virginia.
JMU also added East Rockingham forward Dalton Jefferson as a preferred walk on.
The departure of Fowler leaves JMU somewhat lacking in post depth. Juniors Dwight Wilson and Zach Jacobs are the only two returning big men to play significant minutes last season. Wilson had a breakout year, averaging 10.2 points and 7.8 rebounds. Jacobs averaged 3.3 points and led the team with 26 blocked shots.
The Dukes also have Devon Flowers, who was recently granted a medical hardship by the NCAA to become a redshirt freshman after playing in just two games last season. Flowers is a 6-8 power forward with the ability to stretch the floor as a 3-point shooter.
Christmas and Wooden, who continued to grow during his senior year of high school and is now listed by JMU at 6-8, could also see time at the four spot for the Dukes, who open the season Nov. 6 at home against UNC Charlotte.