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by: Kris Gardner, United States Basketball Writers Association member. Credentialed media member since 1997. USBWA approved online journalist. Voter of Katrina McClain, Naismith, USBWA, and Wooden awards.

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6'8" big man Ja'Vier Francis commits to Houston

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UPDATED: September 28, 2020 -- 5:39 p.m. CT

POSTED: September 27, 2020 -- 5:18 p.m. CT

This afternoon, Ja'Vier Francis announced his commitment to the University of Houston and Head Coach Kelvin Sampson's Houston Cougars men's basketball program.

Ja'Vier (pronounced Jay-Vee-heir), 6'8", 205 pounds, attended Westbury Christian School before transferring to Montverde Academy (FL) for his senior year (2020-'21).

Last season, Francis averaged 14 points, 11 rebounds and nine blocks per game for Westbury Christian.

"Their coaching staff was the first staff to recruit me hard," Francis told Brandon Jenkins of "The way they play basketball perfectly fits the way I like to play."

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Before choosing Houston, Francis had received scholarship offers from schools including DePaul, North Texas, SMU, Stephen F. Austin, Texas Southern, and Washington State.

Francis joins 6'6" guard Ramon Walker and 6'5" forward Robbie Armbrester as Class of 2021 commits to Houston.

Francis' commitment to Houston continues a pattern Coach Sampson and his coaching staff have developed in signing top players from the Greater Houston area.

Francis and Walker were top 10 finalists for the 2020 Guy V. Lewis Award which recognizes the top boys' high school players in the Greater Houston area each year. Houston freshman guard Tramon Mark won the 2020 Guy V. Lewis Award. Houston forward Fabian White Jr was a top 10 GVL finalist in 2016 and 2017. Houston guard Quentin Grimes was a finalist in 2017 and won the 2018 GVL Award. Houston alum Galen Robinson Jr won the 2015 GVL Award.

Comments on Ja'Vier Francis and his commitment to Houston:

Marcus Sloan, President / Scout, OTR Exposure, says of Francis: "7'4 wingspan. ELITE timing on blocked shots and tip dunks. He can contribute immediately as a rebounder, defender, shot blocker.

Sloan continued, "Just turned 17. Still young; raw. I think it's great for UH. If he stayed at Westbury Christian, he's the #1 player in the city. UH basically got the #1 and #2 (Walker and Francis) players in the city."

Jim Hicks, of RCS Sports says of Francis: "He's a looooong drink of water! Arguably the best shot blocker in Texas this past season. In order to really appreciate Ja'Vier, you have to focus on his defensive presence. His arms are very long; and, he maximizes every inch of that length.

Hicks added, "He is reliable from mid-range inward. The offense is rapidly improving but currently a bit on the raw side for most Power 7 interior prospects. (Ja'Vier's) decision (verbal to Houston) is a very smart move considering the direction of Houston's program."

Francis was recently ranked #1 by prior to transferring from Westbury Christian School to Montverde this past summer.

Herb Baker of 1st Option Sports commented, "He's a 6'7" rim running big that blocks shots, rebounds, and dunks everything around the basket. I'm not sure how soon he will play at UH; but, he's a good kid that will work hard and do the right thing. He just turned 17 a couple of months ago; so, his best basketball is definitely ahead of him."

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