"He's a lot like ‘China'," Early said. "I pray he's like ‘China,' but he's in the ‘China' mold. "He's 6-4, athletic and can get to the rim. He's strong and can score around the basket."
Although Stuart came before Early's time, former ULM coach Mike Vining has filled him in on "China's" legend. Intrigued, Early watched video of Stuart in action in a Southland Conference championship win over Texas-San Antonio.
When he got a look at Sykes, that's who came to mind. ULM's latest addition arrives in Monroe via Odessa Junior College, where he was a two-time all-conference performer. Sykes averaged 13.4 points, 7.7 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.5 steals per game. He'll have two years of eligibility remaining at ULM.
Early pulled the trigger on Sykes after an inside tip from his new assistant Jimmy Voight – who as head coach at New Mexico Junior College competed in the same conference as Sykes.
Like Stuart, Sykes plays larger than his height and attacks the rim with aggression. Stuart was also a Texas JUCO find, hailing from Lon Morris Community College.
If Sykes comes anywhere close to Stuart's production -- 21.6 ppg in 1991-92 and 21.1 ppg in 1992-93, with two NCAA tournament berths -- fans will be thrilled.