NEW ROCHELLE, NY - Iona College men's basketball head coach Tim Cluess announced the addition of two players for the 2011-12 campaign. Forwards Nyandigisi Moikobu (Seattle, WA / Cochise College (Ariz.) / Rainier Beach HS) and Taaj Ridley (Bronx, NY / Lawson State CC (Ala.) / John F. Kennedy HS) have signed National Letters of Intent to play at Iona next season.
Nyandigisi Moikobu (pronounced nyan-da-GEE-see moy-KOE-bu) comes to New Rochelle from Cochise College in Douglas, AZ. He attended the Arizona school after originally enrolling at the Big Sky's Montana following a scholastic career at Rainier Beach High School in Seattle, WA. Known by his nickname "Digs", Moikobu is a 6-7, 205 forward and sat out his freshman campaign at Montana before two seasons at Cochise.
"Digs is a tough, skilled forward who can score inside and out," said Cluess. "He is an extremely competitive player with a great feel for the game. We'll look for him to contribute for us next season"
As a sophomore at Cochise, Moikobu averaged 15.3 points (No. 2 on the team), 9.3 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game for Jerry Carrillo's Apaches. The rebounding average ranked 22nd among NJCAA Division I players. He recorded double-digit points in 24 contests and 20 or more in 10 games including 27 against Eastern Arizona on Mar. 3. Moikobu posted 11 double-doubles including a 19-point, 20-rebound effort vs. Pima CC on Feb. 12.
During his freshman campaign, "Digs" posted 10.0 points and 5.8 boards in 30 appearances. His season high 18 points came vs. Scottsdale CC on Nov. 21, 2009 and one of his two double-doubles on the season came on a 17-point, 14-rebound effort vs. Eastern Arizona on Feb. 6, 2010.
Moikobu helped lead Rainier Beach to a 29-1 record and Washington State Class 3A Championship in 2008. He averaged 11 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks and was named Second Team All King County. As a team captain, he was one of four NCAA Division I recruits from head coach Mike Bethea's Rainier Beach squad (Mike Ladd and Reggie Moore, Washington State; and Abebe Demissie, Eastern Washington). Moikobu chose Iona over Portland State.
Taaj Ridley is also listed at 6-7 and will see action at the wing forward position for the Gaels. Ridley joins the squad from Lawson State Community College in Birmingham, AL. With family in both Georgia and New York City, Ridley played his junior campaign at South Gwinnett HS in Snellville, GA before transferring and graduating from John F. Kennedy HS in the Bronx.
"Taaj is a long, athletic wing player with three-point range," said Cluess. "He is a multidimensional forward that can score inside and out. More importantly he will add good length to our lineup on the wing."
As a sophomore at Lawson State, Ridley averaged a team-best 15.8 points, 8.0 rebounds (No. 2 on the squad), and 1.3 assists per game for Phillip Shumpert's Cougars. Ridley posted double-digit efforts in all but two of his appearances with six 20+ point contests including a season-high 27 vs. Snead State on Jan. 18. Ridley also had six double-doubles for the Cougars. Ridley connected on 51.5% of his field goal attempts and shot 41.0% from beyond the arc (25-for-61).
Ridley attended Barton Community College in Great Bend, KS as a freshman in 2008-09 and averaged 9.4 points and 4.0 rebounds in 32 games played for head coach Craig Fletchall. He had season-high 23 points vs. Labette CC on Mar. 3, 2009 and 10 rebounds vs. Cecil College on Nov. 28, 2008. Ridley sat out the 2009-10 campaign with an injury before transferring to Lawson State.
Ridley burst on the PSAL scene his senior year in 2007-08, helping to lead Kennedy to a perfect 15-0 Bronx AA league mark. He averaged 13.3 points, 7.4 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game.
Ridley chose Iona over Hofstra, Niagara, Saint Peter's and VCU.
Moikobu and Ridley will join junior Ra'Shad James (White Plains, NY / St. Thomas Aquinas Coll. / White Plains HS) as newcomers on next year's squad. James sat out the 2010-11 season due to NCAA transfer regulations but had a full season of practice with the 25-12 Gaels in 2010-11. The 6-1, 183 lb guard is described as an exciting player and incredible athlete with extraordinary leaping ability. He also has the ability to knock down the three-pointer and will see time at the two-guard position for the Gaels.
"Ra'Shad is as good an athlete as you will see in Division I basketball," said Cluess. "It was a pleasure to have him in practice this past season as his ability helped push our guards to improve their overall game."
James averaged 12.5 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.0 assists in 48 games during his freshman and sophomore campaigns at St. Thomas Aquinas in Sparkill, NY, across the Hudson River in Rockland County. As a sophomore, he led the squad with 16.6 points and 42 three point field goals, starting all 26 games he appeared in. James earned All-East Coast Conference Second Team honors for his performance. At STAC he shot 44.1% from the field, 35.8% from behind the arc and 70.0% from the charity stripe, scoring 600 points in two seasons.
Described by the Journal News in 2008 as one of the top dunkers in Section I in the last 20 years, a list that includes NBA superstars Ben Gordon and Elton Brand. He teamed with current University of Cincinnati and BIG EAST All-Rookie Sean Kilpatrick on Spencer Mayfield's White Plains squad that reached the Section I championship game in 2007.
The Gaels finished the 2010-11 campaign with a 25-12 overall record. After earning the No. 2 seed in the MAAC Championship and reaching the final game, Iona accepted a bid into the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament. After defeating Valparaiso and East Tennessee State on the road and Buffalo at home, the Maroon & Gold hosted the CIT Championship vs. Santa Clara. In addition to setting several single-season program records, juniors Mike Glover (Bronx, NY) and Scott Machado (Queens, NY) have earned several postseason honors including: First Team All-MAAC, MAAC All-Tournament, NABC All-District, CIT All-Tournament and CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major All-American.