MU's Matt Walls Named First Team All-Kentucky

Donnie Jones of Marshall signed three players this week and now additional honors have come for one of them. Matt Walls of Scott County High School, who signed on Wednesday with the Herd, was named the the first team of the Kentucky High School Boys' All-State team, as named by 18 voters from the Associated Press in the Bluegrass State. Walls is a 6-foot-3 guard who also received another honor.

Walls will also play in the Kentucky-Indiana All-Star Game, played in Bowling Green, Ky. on June 16 and in Indianapolis on June 23. Walls will play alongside a player who is reportedly also being recruited by Donnie Jones and his MU staff. Elizabethtown's Steffphon Pettigrew, a 6-foot-5 forward, was named "Mr. Kentucky Basketball" and will wear the No. 1 jersey for the Kentucky all-stars versus Indiana to signify that honor. Reportedly, Jones is trying to add Pettigrew, who led the state of Kentucky in scoring and rebounding, with 33.6 and 13.3 per game respectively. Pettigrew has offers from Dusquesne, Western Kentucky, Xavier and St. Louis, but the Billikens fired coach Brad Soderburg just last week and is reportedly off the Pettigrew radar.

Jones this week has already signed Walls, who averaged 20.1 points, 5.6 rebounds, 3.5 steals and 3.4 assists per game for the state champion Cardinals, sign Wednesday after junior college standouts Emmanuel Jones and "Mookie" Pierre signed with Marshall on Tuesday. "Both Emmanuel Jones and Revelino Pierre, known as Mookie Pierre, played together this past season at Riverside Community College, and both had terrific seasons," said Donnie Jones. A 6-foot-6 guard/forward originally from Washington, D.C., Emmanuel Jones played at Riverside Community College in 2006-07. His team went 27-5 and Jones averaged 13.5 points, 6.3 rebounds per game and shot 71.3 percent from the free-throw line.  He was a first team Orange Empire Conference selection in his only year playing with Riverside.  He spent the 2004-05 season at San Jacinto Community College in Texas, before transferring to Riverside, where he sat out the 2005-06 season due to injury. "Emmanuel is an athletic wing player with great energy," said Donnie Jones.  "He can score in a variety of ways and will remind our fans a lot of University of Florida player Corey Brewer."

"Emmanuel is a long, explosive scorer," said Riverside Community College coach John Smith.  "I think Marshall got a great player, and I think he can get even better.  He's still learning the game as he gets older." Pierre, a 6-foot-4 guard originally from Gaithersburg, Md., also played at Riverside Community College in 2006-07, where he averaged 13.2 points and 4.9 rebounds per game.  He shot 81.3 percent from the free-throw line and was the team's leader from the three-point line, shooting 35.4 percent.  Pierre played at Rockville Community College in Maryland in 2005-06 and averaged 20.0 points per game. "Mookie is the smartest basketball player I've coached," said Smith.  "He has a very high basketball IQ and has the ability to play a very long time.  He is a very cerebral player."

Donnie Jones, who was hired as the new head coach at Marshall on April 7. is also sold on Pierre. "Mookie is a versatile combo guard who can play in the one (point guard), two (shooting guard), or three (small forward) position in our system," said Donnie Jones.  "He is a very smooth, mature player that will have the ability to fit in with an up tempo style of play."

For Marshall basketball, Mookie Pierre and Emmanuel Jones were the leading and third-best scorer on California's No. 1-ranked community college, undefeated at 12-0 to start the season. Pierre also averaged 5.1 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game and has recorded seven steals in the first 12 games. Pierre red-shirted one season at Riverside and reportedly committed to UT-Chattanooga early in the fall, and eventually signed with Marshall after visiting this past December. He was also recruited by Oregon State, Arizona State, Idaho State, Sacramento State and Hampton University.


Mookie Pierre is headed to Marshall, along with teammate Emmanuel Jones. File photo from Scout.com.

According to Pierre's mentor Walter Ray, academic uncertainties at Montgomery-Rockville precluded him from playing in 2005-2006. Ray, who has successfully provided college exposure for hundreds of student-athletes through his organization "EGOS, Inc.", shared recently with i95Ballerz.com, a recruiting web site. "I ran into (Pierre) summer (of 2006), and he said he wasn't playing anywhere". Ray immediately invited Pierre to open gym competitions. It is these informal settings, in concert with Ray's Larry Williams Games and the travel teams he puts together, that not only solidifies the participant's skills, but creates an evaluative platform for coaches from four year and junior college institutions. "I took them to the Ken Littlefield Tournament in Atlanta, and everybody wanted to know who he was." Pierre eventually chose to attend Riverside Community College in Riverside, California because as he recently put in a phone interview with the web site, "It's a good program."

Emmanuel Jones is a 6-foot-6, 195 pound sophomore originally from South Vance High School in Henderson, N.C. He was second on the team with 16 steals in those first 12 games, before making his visit to Marshall, and has two blocks and averages nearly one assist per game. He shot 46 percent from the field and 31 percent from three (5-for-16) to start the year, at the time of his first visit to Marshall. The Community College League of California Commission on Athletics (COA), in partnership with the California Community College Sports Information Association (CCCSIA) named Emmanuel Jones the COA Student Male Athlete of the Month for November 2006. He was shooting 50.7 percent from the floor to lead Riverside to its best start in over 30 years for Coach Smith. Pierre was the MVP of the 16-team Wells Fargo California Community College Holiday Tournament, which Riverside won, while E. Jones was named to the All-Tournament team. Kenny Blakeney, a former Jirsa assistant who is trying to land a job on the new Marshall staff, alongside of Shawn Finney and Brett Nelson, is believed to be the original recruiter of E. Jones and Pierre in 2006.

D. Jones may soon add another players, according to Jeff Goodman at ScoutHoops.com on Tuesday. Matt Walls met with Louisville coach Rick Pitino and the Scott County (Ky.) unsigned senior guard had an offer to play for the Cardinals. However, he spurned the former NBA coach and various other high-major programs to play for a new Conference USA coach in Jones and the former Gator assistant may have a player in Walls who could be the next Lee Humphrey, a mainstay for the Florida team that won back-to-back national championships.

Walls committed to Marshall on Tuesday and signed with the Thundering Herd on Wednesday, after receiving recent interest from the likes of Kentucky, Louisville, Xavier, Wake Forest, Eastern Kentucky and Morehead State. "Huntington was a lot like Georgetown (Ky.)," Walls told Goodman. "It's a thriving athletic community, a great university and the president (Dr. Stephen Kopp of MU) and Coach Donnie Jones are terrific guys. It was a great fit for me." Louisville coach Rick Pitino met with Walls on Monday and offered him a chance to receive a scholarship for his final three years, but the sharpshooter – who played point guard until his senior season when he moved to the two-guard spot – opted to go with Jones and Marshall instead.

"It was kind of tough, but I believe in Coach Jones," Walls said. He's coming from a great program and I believe in him. He's going to turn around this program and I have all the confidence in him." The 6-foot-3 Walls was the runner-up for "Mr. Basketball" in the state of Kentucky and also led Scott County to a state title and a 34-2 overall record, including one win in two games over the Huntington High team, and one of those games was in Huntington where Walls will play for the Herd. Walls averaged 20.1 points and 5.8 rebounds per game for the Cardinals, who won Kentucky's Sweet 16 title and Scott Co. was 30-0 versus Bluegrass State teams. While he's not quite as deadeye of a shooter as Humphrey, he's a better ball-handler and passer and will be able to play some point guard.

"Right now I'm labeled as a shooter," Walls said. "But I think there's more to my game than just that. Coach Jones compares to me to Lee Humphrey, which is a great compliment, but he says I can do a little more." "It's great to see great things happen to great kids," said Scott County High School head coach Billy Hicks. "He has a boatload of talent and has a tremendous work ethic, just like one of my former players, A.W. Hamilton. He and A.W. are cut out of the same mold. "I really think it's an exciting time for Marshall basketball, and I'm happy Matt is going to be a part of it." Walls is reportedly fully qualified for college academically. The former Marshall point guard Hamilton is now an assistant coach at Fork Union Military Academy.


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