Scott Monarch consistently fields a team full of Division One talent at Panola Junior College. This year's Ponies should be no different. Three of Monarch's returning sophomores will almost certainly play Division One ball next season.
The most heralded of the bunch is probably Mykal Riley (pronounced mi-KALE), a 6-foot-6 shooting guard from Pine Bluff, Ark., whom JucoJunction rated as a top-20 prospect in the nation next season.
"He can really, really shoot and really rebound," Monarch said. "He is 6-6, but he has the wing span of somebody 6-7, 6-8, and he can really run. I think he's gonna be a really good player."
Riley is drawing looks from schools like Arkansas-Little Rock, but Monarch said the big dogs haven't really taken notice even after a freshman season in which Riley averaged 17 points per game.
"I think he's going to be even better," Monarch said. "He put a little weight on and has been working hard."
Riley's size makes you think he could make the move to small forward, but Monarch disagrees.
"He's a straight shooting guard because he shoots so well," said the coach. "He's kind of like a Reggie Miller shooter, not a get to the basket three guy."
Riley will have plenty of help. In fact, he's not the most heavily recruited player on his team right now. Guard Darren Hopkins, our No. 39 player in the country, is already being recruited by New Mexico, TCU and St. Bonaventure.
"I think he's getting hit pretty good," Monarch said. :He's a combo for me, plays the point but also plays scoring guard. He's good, more of a complete player than Mykal, but I don't know where you'd play him because he scores so well. He's kind of like a Jamaal Tinsley, he does a little bit of everything."
Joining that duo will be Keon Grant, who Monarch says is a certain low- to mid-major prospect.
The returning guys would be enough, but Monarch has added three Division One transfers to his program in the offseason.
"I've got two kids coming in from East Carolina," Monarch said. "Charles Bronson is a 6-10 kid out of Philly. He was sitting out and came in January and Marvin Kilgore from E. Carolina and Philadelphia Lutheran. I'm really happy with those guys."
Bronson was recruited by a ton of schools out of high school, including Oklahoma State, DePaul, LSU, Ohio State, Colorado, Texas and Wake Forest. Kilgore, meanwhile, averaged 3.4 points, 1.5 rebounds and 1.7 assists at ECU last season.
6-foot-10 Asrangue Souleyman will also join the Ponies next season as a transfer from Cincinnati. Souleyman is a strong defensive presence who was also recruited out of high school by LSU. However, he played just 23 minutes in 16 games for Bob Huggins last season.
There could be more on the way at Panola as well.
"I just need two guys, need two in-betweens, 6-5, 6-6's," Monarch said. "I feel like if I don't get a player out of these two, I'm all right. I'm really happy with what I've got coming in."