When Marquette signed the African standout Youssoupha Mbao to a National Letter of Intent, he was ranked 125th in the nation among 2009 prospects, according to HoopScoopOnline.com.
Mbao competed for Stoneridge Prep in Simi Valley, Calif. in 2008-09, eighth in the nation at the start of that season. He averaged 13.4 points, 11.2 rebounds and six blocks per game.
He also participated in the 2008 adidas Nations Experience and the National Prep Showcase. Mbao was named to the honorable mention squad of the class of 2009 by NBN Basketball Magazine. He is ranked the 30th-best center in the class of 2009 by ESPN.com.
Accoring to the Charleston Daily Mail, Mbao visited the Marshall campus on June 28-29. He also reportedly visited the University of Texas.
Thomas is getting his bachelor's degree in three years, leaving him with two seasons to play for the Herd while working on a Master's degree. He was recruited by current MU assistant Mark Cline, when Cline was an assistant at the University of Oklahoma.
At N.C. State, Thomas averaged 1.5 points per game in 25 appearances over two season. He played in 8.4 minutes per game over that stretch.
Thomas was a three-star recruit by Rivals.com out of Greensboro (N.C.) Day High School, with offers from other ACC schools like Miami and Virginia Tech, as well as OU. He averaged 19.8 points and 9.8 rebounds per game at Greensboro Day.
Marshall will return senior forwards Tirrell Baines and Antonio Haymon; junior guards Damier Pitts, Shaq Johnson and Dago Pena and junior forward Nigel Spikes, who could earn another year after sitting out 2008-09 as a prop and who has changed to number 11 for 2010-11. Sophomore walk-on shooting guard Noah Fischer is also returning to the team.
USF transfer Eladio Espinosa (wearing #5 this year) will be a sophomore after sitting out the 2009-10 season in Huntington. Freshman DeAndre Kane (#24 for 2010-11) is working on academics and hopes to be eligible for the coming season as well.
Marshall has signed 6-foot-3 freshman guard Dante Holmes (who will wear jersey #2), from St. Francis Academy in Baltimore, Md. and junior college forward Aundra "Dre" Williams (who will wear #25), who played at Indian River State College last year but is from Clewiston, Fla. originally.
Also expected to join the Herd is prep school forward J.P. Kambola, who might be a non-qualifier, and University of Oklahoma graduate Orlando Allen, a 6-foot-10 center with one year to play while he pursues his Master's at Marshall University.
One other player also is apparently headed to the Herd, according to Chuck McGill of the Charleston Daily Mail and Chuck Landon of The Herald-Dispatch. Johnny Higgins is headed to Marshall as soon as he finishes his junior college academics at Frank Phillips College in Texas.
He is the 6-foot-2, 185-pound point guard, who once played for another new Marshall assistant, Bill Barton, at Notre Dame Prep in Fitchburg, Mass. Higgins is the exact type of hard-nosed, ultra-physical player that Herrion is looking for at the point guard position, and currently the Herd has only Pitts as a true point guard.