By Andrew Giermak, The Sanford Herald
SANFORD - The next basketball season is a little more than six months off, but April 27 was a huge day for former Southern Lee standout Isaiah Monroe along with his new team and teammates at Central Carolina Community College.
Monroe signed his letter of intent from CCCC in the afternoon in Southern Lee's media center. A few hours later, he was one of nine new Cougars to make their paperwork official at the college alongside head coach Doug Connor.
Wednesday's ceremonies alone could form the Cougar basketball roster for the 2016-17 season, but the Cougars will have a few returning players and, Connor expects, still a few more new recruits, to make for a young, yet talented, squad.
Grace Christian grad Brice Harrison, transferring from Sandhills C.C., Northwood's Dalton Thomas, Overhills' Jared Foster, Richmond's Greg Patterson, DaShaun Boswell from Goldsboro, Jamal Shuford from Eastern Wayne, Avion Jordan from Caldwell C.C., Jordan Lunsford, also from Caldwell Tech C.C., and Monroe signed with CCCC and Cougar basketball Wednesday.
Connor was excited as his incoming class has a diverse mix of size and speed, from quick guards and fine shooters to big, physical post players.
Earlier in the afternoon, Monroe was happy to share the signing ceremony with his family, teammates and coaches. For Monroe and many of his Cavalier running mates, they've been friends and teammates since well before the last four years, going back to middle school and AAU teams.
"They've always helped me out. They've been able to help me by pushing me to my limit," said Monroe.
"To get the chance to keep playing is fun. It's exciting. I'm just happy to be playing close to home and it's a good feeling," he said.
Monroe wants to pursue sports medicine and athletic training.
His work ethic on the court has been at a collegiate level well before signing with CCCC said his Cavalier head coach.
"I'm very proud of the work he's put in moving up through our program," said Southern Lee head coach Gaston Collins.
"Here is proof good things happen to good people," Collins said. "I'm grateful coach (Connor) sees something in Isaiah that can help his program out."
"Isaiah is a kid," said Southern Lee athletic director Don Simon, "who is very respectful and a very hard worker on and off the court."
Connor recounted his first chance seeing Monroe in action as a Cavalier, and seeing an athletic move in the paint and dunk by Monroe. He's just starting to see Monroe's efforts in practice.
"He's really been a plus to coach in our workouts the last few weeks," said Connor, "and I think the sky's the limit for this young man."
The lineup of new Cougars join a team which went 10-16 overall last season.
Andrew Giermak, The Sanford Herald Central Carolina Community College welcomed nine new basketball recruits as they signed with the Cougars April 27. Seated from left is DaShaun Boswell, head coach Doug Connor, Jared Foster, standing from left is Brice Harrison, Jamal Shuford, Avion Jordan, Greg Patterson, Dalton Thomas, Isaiah Monroe, and Jordan Lunsford.