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Men’s college basketball: NSU loads backcourt with talent to open spring signing period

By Matt Vines, Northwestern State Assistant Director of Communications 

NATCHITOCHES – The Northwestern State men’s basketball program signed three guards Wednesday to bolster its backcourt on the opening day of the spring signing period. 

The Demons inked LSUE transfer Jonathan Cisse, Scotlandville High product Emareyon McDonald and Grapevine High guard Jackson Waggoner. 

All three scorers averaged at least 16 points per game at their respective programs this past season. 

“We’re excited about all three young men,” said NSU coach Mike McConathy, who has led the Demons to Southland Conference Tournament wins in each of the past two seasons. “Scoring is always important, but makers are even more important – guys that can make shots. 

“All three can make shots and are gym rats. The most important factor is all three wanted to be at Northwestern State.” 

Cisse proved to be a prolific scorer at LSUE, ranking eighth nationally with more than 21 points per game on 48 percent shooting from the field. 

The 6-foot-3 guard guided the Bengals to two conference titles and two top-four seeds in the region. 

Before Cisse was a Co-Player of the Year in the Louisiana Community Colleges Athletic Conference, he set St. Thomas More’s scoring record (21.2 points per game as a senior) as the Cougars captured the Division II State title, their third Top 28 appearance with Cisse. 

The Class 4A MVP topped the 1,500-point mark for his high school career. 

“(Cisse) address a true need in our program because he is a winner and a great leader,” McConathy said. “He has a quiet leadership personality that allows him to never get too high or too low, and he’s skilled in all aspects of the game. 

“You want the ball in his hands at the end of the game because of his free-throw shooting ability (90-plus percent in both LSUE seasons).” 

McConathy and the NSU staff used their long-standing relationship to reel in McDonald.  

McDonald, a consensus three-star recruit who some services rated as a four-star prospect, is the most highly touted signee since Jalan West. McDonald is considered the top point guard in the state, a top-35 point guard nationally and a top-10 overall prospect in Louisiana. 

McDonald averaged nearly 19 points as a senior at Scotlandville High, who advanced to the Division I title game. 

The 6-foot-1 guard grew up in Coushatta before his family moved to Baton Rouge. 

“He is one of the top (high school) players in the state, and he and his family know our program very well,” McConathy said. “We’ve been following him for a long time, and it’s always a priority of ours to sign the best players from Louisiana, especially ones that grow up so close to Natchitoches (Coushatta). 

“Emareyon has established himself not only as one of the best shooters in the state but in the country. He’s matured his game to become a complete player over the past couple of seasons in that he’s becoming a great scorer at all three levels and improving on the defensive end of the court.” 

Waggoner is a three-year starter that led Grapevine High to its first bi-district championship in more than 40 years. 

The 6-foot-2 guard topped the 1,500-scoring mark in his career, including averaging 16 points per game in each of his final two seasons. 

The three-time all-district performer made the All-Dallas Fort Worth team twice, was second-team Star Telegram and was selected to first-team All-Region. 

The combo guard, who is part of NSU basketball royalty with father Wayne Waggoner and grandfather Bernard Waggoner being members of the NSU N-Club Hall of Fame, also averaged four assists and five rebounds as a senior.  

“We feel very fortunate to have added such a high-caliber student-athlete from Texas,” McConathy said. “Jackson is a very accomplished guard with outstanding ball-handling, passing and shooting skills who stood out in the competitive DFW area. 

“He has the ability to push the ball and make great decisions but is also shifty and can knock down 3-pointers at a high rate.” 

The three spring signees join 6-foot-6 wing Shaun Riley of Anacoco High, a first-team Class C all-state player who averaged 17 points per game and led the Indians to the state title game. 

Riley signed during the early period this fall. 

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