WEST PLAINS, Mo. – Missouri State University-West Plains Grizzly Basketball standout Yannis Mendy has signed a national letter of intent to join the Robert Morris University (RMU) Colonials this fall.
The 6-foot, 8-inch sophomore forward from Paris, France, signed his paperwork today, May 4, during a press conference at Kellett Hall on the Missouri State-West Plains campus. The event was attended by teammates and members of the Grizzly Booster Club.
RMU is an NCAA Division I school near Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, that competes in the Northeastern Conference (NEC).
“I chose Robert Morris because I was looking for a good Division I program where I could play right away and have a direct impact,” Mendy said. “I heard a lot of good things about RMU academically, and when I went on a visit there, I met people who proved to me that the academic level was as good as they say.
“What I liked was that a lot of people care about your success,” he added. “They want to help you in everything you do. The staff is just amazing, and it’s exactly the type of program I was looking for. The goal is clear: Make it to the NCAA tournament.”
POPP: MENDY’S CHOICE ‘SOLID,’ ‘MATURE’
Grizzly Basketball Head Coach Chris Popp called Mendy’s choice “solid” and “mature.”
“There were other places that he could have gone where he was promised a bigger role, he may have been able to get more shots, be a bigger focus. He chose a place that he believes will be the best for his future,” the coach said.
Popp believes Mendy has the ability to be an impact player for the Colonials in the Northeastern Conference (NEC). “He will be a handful at that level. What is great about Yannis is that he makes everybody better. His feel, understanding and passing ability makes everything run smoother when he’s on the floor. That is priceless,” he explained.
Mendy agreed. “I think I can help the Colonials with my vision of the game and my ability to be versatile. I will help them where they need me the most,” he said. “I want to have an impact on the stats sheet, of course, but I also want to be a vocal leader.”
MENDY’S APPROACH MADE HIM AN IMPACT PLAYER
Mendy’s impact on the Grizzlies for the past two seasons has been similar because of his everyday approach to the game, Popp said. “Yannis is what we call an everyday player. You never had to wonder if he would have a good practice. He brought it every day. Each game may have been different in numbers, points and so on, but his effort, defense, rebounding, focus were always there,” he explained.
“He affected our team in his daily approach to each and every thing we did on the court and with what he did off the court,” Popp added. “Yannis is a mature young man who took a business approach to everything. He isn’t the typical player who goes out there to shoot deep threes and work on spectacular moves. He worked on his game. He was serious, and it has paid off with at Division I scholarship.”
Mendy, a first team All-Region 16 Team honoree, averaged 12. 7 points, 8.1 rebounds and two assists per game this season. He shot 60.2 percent from the floor and 73.9 percent from the free throw line.
Mendy is the third Grizzly player to sign with an NCAA Division I school this week. Teammates Ricky Torres and Radshad Davis signed their paperwork Monday, April 30, to attend Wichita State University and the University of Texas-Arlington, respectively.
As with Torres and Davis, Mendy will be remembered as part of the group of sophomores that spearheaded a re-emergence of Grizzly Basketball, Popp said. “He is a big piece of that legacy the entire group leaves. He has been a great representative of our program and this institution. He is the player that finds the kid in the lunchroom who is sitting by himself and makes him feel special,” the coach said.
MENDY RECEIVED THE UNCOMMON AWARD
“At our (annual sports) banquet, he received our most prestigious award, the Uncommon Award. It is given to the player who displays a determined effort to go above and beyond in all areas of his life. That is Yannis,” Popp added.
Mendy has made great progress since joining the Grizzlies, and Popp is excited to see where the next chapter takes him.
“I am very proud of Yannis and how far he has come,” the coach said. “When he joined us, he did not have many options; however, he worked, developed and fought through the tough times with us and returned this year to help lead us to a championship. The traits he displays on the court are going to make him successful in whatever path he chooses with his future. I am very excited to watch him continue to develop. Robert Morris just got a great player and an exceptional young man.”
“My time at Missouri State-West Plains helped me a lot,” Mendy said. “I grew up as a basketball player, of course, but also as a person. I learned a new type of basketball, different from what I was used to in France, and I enjoyed it! I think Grizzly fans and the community will remember me as a strong and angry guy on the court but always smiling and funny off the court. I was proud to be a Grizzly, and I will always be one. I would like to thank the fans and the community for all the support they gave me. I met awesome people, and I will remember these two seasons in West Plains for the rest of my life.”
For more information about the Grizzly Basketball program, visit the team’s website or call 417-255-7991.
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