Sports

Pennell’s first recruiting class shows promise for future, signs 10 players

New UCA Men’s Basketball Head Coach Russ Pennell signed his first recruits for the 2014-2015 season April 16, none of which were from Arkansas.

The team signed 10 two- star recruits.

Three players were previously coached by Pennell at Grand Canyon University.

One of the more intriguing recruits was top Canadian talent Otas Iyekekpolor from Edmonton, Alberta, a 6-foot-8-inch combo forward who averaged 28.1 points, 17 rebounds and three assists per game as a high school senior.

Pennell said Iyekekpolor has special talent and that he is glad to have him.

“He’s a young man with unbelievable, God-given talent,” Pennell said. “He was actually the second-rated player in the province of Alberta. He’s a great player and student, but an even better person and we’re so excited to have him.”

Pennell said Iyekekpolor’s two-star rating doesn’t do him justice because of his lack of exposure.

“That two-star rating, people just don’t know what they’re doing with that,” he said. “This kid didn’t get a lot of exposure in the United States, so that rating means nothing to me. He’s going to be very special for us.”

Another eye-catching recruit was Jordan Howard, a 5-foot-11- inch point guard who was the top-scorer in the state of Arizona as a junior in 2013, averaging 25.6
points per game.

“I’ve known [Howard] since he was in the sixth grade,” Pennell said. “He’s a very talented point guard, and I know he’s going to be able to lead this offense. He’s also a really, really good shooter. A lot of point guards are quick, have the ability to get in the lane for a layup or possess a great passing ability. Howard has all of that, and he can score from outside.”

The most recent player to sign, and one of the more interesting signees, was Christian Musoko, a 6-foot-8-inch power forward Congo native who averaged 13.7 points, 15.2 rebounds and six blocks per game as a high school senior.

Musoko has only been playing basketball for two years.

“Our assistant coach, Mark Nelson, has been recruiting him for the past year, so Christian fell in love with UCA through him,” Pennell said. “Christian’s physical presence is very impressive. He’s big, he’s got big hands and, more than anything, his agility is what stands out the most.”

Until two years ago, Musoko was a soccer player, so Pennell said he’s bringing a soccer skill set to our the team.

“He just needs to play a lot now,” he said. “When he does that, he’s going to be very, very special. He’s upper Division I talent.”

Junior college transfer Derreck Brooks, a 6-foot-5-inch combo guard, won the NJCAA National Championship with Phoenix College and averaged 16.7 points, 7.8 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game as a freshman.

Brooks played one year under Pennell at Grand Canyon University as a redshirt freshman.

“[Brooks] is going to be a very special player here,” Pennell said. “He got injured his freshman year, so we had to redshirt him, but before that he was one of the better players on the team. He went to Phoenix College and won a national championship there, and he was very instrumental in their run to the national championship. He will be a big, big cog in what we’re trying to do.”

Sophomore Ethan Lee said he is excited about playing with the new recruits.

“I got the chance to spend time with them last weekend and I really enjoyed them,” he said. “I look forward to working with them.”

To see the full recruiting class, go to ucasports.com.

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