University of Central Arkansas coach Russ Pennell added a key piece to the puzzle this week with the signing of versatile forward Eddy Kayouloud.
Kayouloud, a 6-foot-7, 230-pounder, comes to UCA from prestigious Oak Hill Academy in Mouth of Wilson, Virginia.
Kayouloud played the past two seasons at Oak Hill and is projected to be a three-star recruit by several recruiting services.
He averaged 4.5 points and 3.5 rebounds, playing alongside players who have signed with Kentucky, Kansas, Oregon and Florida on one of the top teams in the nation that finished the season 42-1.
"He had to kind of play a role at Oak Hill, because he was starting alongside four McDonald's All-Americans,” Pennell said. "And, he played that role awfully well. There were a lot of times he was kind of the glue guy and helped make those other guys what they were.
"We just feel like Eddy could have played a lot of places in the United States, and for him to pick UCA, it's really exciting for us as a program and for our fans as they get to watch him play.”
Kayouloud, from Paris, France, played for the under-17 French National team at the FIBA World Championships.
"Eddy is the type of player that can bring his versatility to any situation,” Pennell said. "He's a good shooter, he's a great ballhandler, good defender and good passer. He's a very well-rounded basketball player. And, that's the reason we wanted him so badly. We just feel like he's such a tough matchup.
"He's strong enough to guard someone bigger than he is, but he's also got the finesse to make plays. I think he will play the three (small forward) for us, play alongside (redshirt freshman) SK (Shittu) and (sophomore) Hayden (Koval). And then, he can also slide over and play some four (power forward). The thing we can do with him is, it's like having an extra point guard on the floor because he's such a good passer.'
Pennell credits assistant coach Matt Scherbenske with getting Kayouloud to Conway.
"Matt went to Oak Hill as a player and he just followed them and knew about their players,” Pennell said. "Eddy had played on the 17-and-under French national team so he wasn't playing summer basketball over here. We got on him about 18 months ago and just kept holding our breath that other schools would stay away from him. By that, I mean the big teams. Once we started recruiting him, anyone at the mid-major level, I don't think they were going to get him over us.
"Matt just did an outstanding job of hanging in there with him and we are extremely excited to have Eddy as part of our program at UCA.”
Kayouloud joins Khaleem Bennett from Hamilton, Canada, who plays at Sunrise Christian Academy in Bel Aire, Kansas; Jaxson Baker from Brophy Prep and Phoenix, Arizona; and Porter Anderson from Lamar (Arkansas) High School, who plays at Link Year Prep in Branson, Missouri, as the 2018 signing class for the Bears.