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Verbal Commitment: Stephane Ayangma

On Sunday evening, both Donyell Marshall and assistant coach Mike Witcoskie hit Twitter with some enthusiasm:

Now we know why.

On Monday, Verbal Commits reported that Stephane Ayangma committed to Central Connecticut St. Ayangma, who has two years of eligibility remaining, is the second member of the 2019 recruiting class, joining Trey Tennnyson, who committed about a year ago and signed a Letter of Intent during the early signing period.

The 6’6” 212 lb. Ayangma was the leading scorer and rebounder for Hinds Community College (located in SW Mississippi) this past season, scoring 15.1 ppg and grabbing 9.2 boards per game. Hinds wasn’t very successful in the MACJAC, finishing 11-12 overall (4-10 in the league), but Ayangma was a double-double machine, finishing the season with 11 such games. He scored in double-figures in all but three contests, including a 26 point outburst on November 26th against the William Carey JV (11 for 14 from the field). In all, he topped 20 points four times.

Ayangma, who is originally from Cameroon, started playing organized basketball in 9th grade, and came to the U.S. as a high school junior, joining a basketball academy in Kansas before transferring to Picayune (MS) Memorial High School, where his older brother, Eric, was an assistant coach. As a senior, Ayangma was named to the All-South Mississippi Boys Basketball team after averaging 20.4 ppg and 11.1 rpg.

After high school, he attended Iowa Western Community College, one of the premier JUCO teams in the nation. However, after playing sparingly as a freshman, he transferred to Hinds where he put up big numbers as a sophomore despite not receiving a D1 scholarship offer until CCSU came calling.

While there is not a ton of video of Ayangma out there, he profiles as an athletic 4 or undersized 5 at the NEC level; he’s big and strong with an ability to be a grab-and-go forward, finish around the rim, and rebound. He did not take a ton of three-pointers this past season, a little more than one per game, but did make them at a high clip (43.8%). He also shot 70.4% from the free throw line on ~ 4 attempts per game. He should be able to step in and rebound at a high level while also being an offensive option, but the big question mark for me; at 6’6”, can he protect the rim enough to play extensive minutes at the 5? He did have 38 blocks in 23 games last season, but he’ll likely face bigger, more athletic players in the NEC next season than he did in the MACJAC. Plus fouling was an issue on occasion, as he fouled out of one game and finished with four fouls in eight others.

But here’s the thing; Marshall does not recruit Junior College players to come in and ride the pine. Previous JUCO guys- Tyler Kohl, Deion Bute, Joe Hugley, and Jamir Coleman- all came in and earned heavy minutes immediately. And by the way, all those guys have been well above-average players in this league. It’s safe to say there’s been some struggles with the CCSU staff’s high school recruits, but the JUCO guys they’ve brought in have been very good.

So where will he play? Without knowing the make-up of the final roster, my early thinking is that Ayangma will be the backup at both forward positions. He’ll see minutes at the 4 in “big” lineups (with Jamir Coleman moving to the wing), and at the 5 in “small” lineups, while also allowing Coleman a breather. Marshall likes versatility, and Ayangma certainly provides that.

With five scholarships remaining, I fully expect Marshall to bring in at least one point guard (Thai Segwai is the only PG remaining), as well as more size (perhaps a true 5). I would not count out at least one or two JUCO players, as well. Keep your eyes peeled.

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