April 15, 2023

Fifth Time Was a Charm…and a Surprise

Fifth Time Was a Charm…and a Surprise

Fifth Time Was a Charm...and a Surprise

By Chris Day  |  March 2023  |  FMU Focus Magazine Spring 2023

man playing basketball

Alex Cox didn’t think he’d play another year of basketball at FMU, but he’s glad he did.

Five years ago, a spindly freshman from North Carolina came to Francis Marion University to play some basketball and work on an accounting degree.

Five years later, and much to his surprise, he’s still at it.

That’s a good thing for FMU super senior Alex Cox, and it’s a good thing for the FMU men’s basketball team too. Cox, a sharp-shooting guard, was the team’s third-leading scorer (15.4 points a game) and twice received Conference Carolinas player of the week honors.

It was all a big surprise for Cox. He wasn’t expecting to play basketball this year — the plan had been for him to help out with some coaching while he finished his studies — and so he didn’t pick up a basketball for eight months following the 2021-22 season.

“Last year was my fourth year and I told everybody that I was done,” Cox said. “I thought I was going to coach because all summer we talked about me helping out with the team.”

But when Jake Zehnder was named interim coach in October, one of the first things he did was tell Cox that he had a spot for him — on the roster.

man playing basketballCox jumped at the chance because he said he loves Francis Marion University and he loves basketball.

“I wanted to leave everything out on the court and have no regrets,” Cox said.

The months away from basketball might have allowed a little rust to form on Cox’s game, but they also revived Cox physically and mentally. It took a while to get back into the flow of practice and games, he said, but he eventually found his groove.

“To have the season I’m having now is just a blessing in disguise,” Cox said. “I’m having the best time of my life.”

Cox is making the most of his time at FMU, a place that’s really become his home. He is pursuing a double major in accounting and finance and is on track to finish this spring.

Cox says he knew he wanted to be an accountant before arriving at FMU. The double major was an easy decision because he just “loves numbers.”

“And, if basketball doesn’t work out as a career, I will have the two degrees I can fall back on,” he says. “That opens up a lot of possibilities.”

Cox is going to give basketball the first shot, though. He’s been in the sport ever since he fell in love with the game as a child. Cox’s grandmother bought him a Little Tikes basketball goal when he was toddler and he started playing YMCA basketball when he was two and a half.

Cox played other sports along the way — he’s an excellent athlete — but decided to focus on basketball in high school. He graduated from the Cannon School, a private school in Concord, North Carolina and was selected to play in North Carolina’s private school all-star game.

“I haven’t looked back ever since (I was two),” says Cox. “I’ve been playing for 20 or 21 years now. I have a lot of memories with it. I have a lot of memories with my family playing it. It’s just something I love to do.”

Cox wants to play professional basketball overseas. He would like to either play in Europe or Australia.

“Coach Zehnder said he will help me find something after the season,” Cox says.

Zehnder says finding Cox a place shouldn’t be difficult.

“There’s just not many kids like him,” says Zehnder. “He is a heck of a basketball player. Man, you’re talking about a great human being. There’s not many better than him.”

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