Pearl River adds 6-foot-11 D1 transfer to loaded 2020-21 roster

photo submitted by PRCC Athletics
photo submitted by PRCC Athletics

POPLARVILLE, Miss. — The two-time defending Region XXIII Champion Pearl River Wildcats have completed their 2020-21 roster with one final addition.

NJCAA Coach of the Year Chris Oney announced Friday the Wildcats have signed 6-foot-11 transfer James Ellis.

The Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, native joins the Wildcats after spending the last two seasons at Duquesne.

"James is a kid who's coming in with a lot of experience and a lot of hunger," Oney said. "He's poised to take that next big step like our other Division 1 transfers have in the past."

Listed at 6-foot-11, 230 pounds, Ellis will add a needed post presence to the Wildcats' lineup.

"Every year in recruiting you have empty boxes. James' best attribute will obviously be protecting the rim. He's also a great finisher in the paint," Oney said of Ellis, who has a 7-foot, 7-inch wingspan. "With the signing of James, we checked off the last box heading into this year with an eye on three-peating as region champs."

Ellis appeared in five games for Duquesne as a redshirt freshman in 2019-20.

Prior to signing with the Dukes, Ellis was a highly sought-after recruit from Pittsburgh's Westinghouse High.

He averaged 21 points, 12 rebounds and an astonishing 7.6 blocks per game while leading Westinghouse to the City League title game and a PIAA first-round win. He finished his prep career with 1,014 points and collected a number of honors, including being named the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's City League Player of the Year. He also landed on several teams, including the Pennsylvania Sports Writers Class 3A All-State First Team, the Post-Gazette's "Fabulous Five" and the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's "Trib 10" all-star squad.

When Ellis originally signed with DU in May 2018, Dukes coach Keith Dambrot raved about the center's potential.

"James has great touch, he can run the floor and has shown excellent timing as a shot blocker," he said.

Ellis is the latest transfer to choose the Wildcats, joining St. Bonaventure's Robert Carpenter, Georgia Southern's Jalen Cincore and Daytona State Community College's Damerius Wash.

Pearl River's incoming freshman class is comprised of Tupelo forward Josh Mitchell, North Panola guard Ankerion Gross, Natchez guard KeDarius "Squirt" Stampley, Hattiesburg guard Cameron Brown, Brandon wing Jaquevias Tarvin and Olive Branch point guard Joe Cooper.

Under Oney's guidance the Wildcats have done a superior job of getting both prep signees and transfers to the next level. Last year alone, the Wildcats sent players to St. John's, New Mexico, Southern Miss, Southern, Cal State Bakersfield and Rogers State. The previous season, Wildcats chose to attend Indiana State, Tulsa, Louisiana-Monroe, North Alabama, Jackson State, William Carey and Southern. 


The Wildcats have had a busy offseason. In addition to installing a brand new court design at the state's premier JUCO arena, Marvin R. White Coliseum, Oney announced the hires of new assistant coaches Hayden Harkins and Janard Estell


The Wildcats are hosting two summer camps later this month. The back-to-school camp runs Aug. 15, 22, 29 and Sept. 5, while the elite camp is Aug. 20, 27, and Sept. 3, 10. Ages range from 7-17 for the two camps.

For more information or to register, contact PRCC assistant coach Hayden Sowers at or 662-610-5591. 


The Wildcats' historic 2019-20 run was cut short by the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic, but Pearl River still had a season to remember. Among the season's highlights, Pearl River's 28-0 record set a program-high, the Wildcats were the lone undefeated team in the NJCAA, PRCC was the first Mississippi school to earn the No. 1 seed in the NJCAA Tournament, the Wildcats claimed the MACJC championship and a second consecutive Region XXIII title; and the Wildcats were the first Mississippi school to qualify for the NJCAA Tournament with an unblemished record. In addition to the student athletes' awards, Oney was named the MACJC, Region XXIII and NJCAA Coach of the Year. 


For the latest on Pearl River Community College athletics, follow us on Twitter (@PRCCAthletics) and Facebook (PRCCAthletics).



BY: Patrick Ochs

Pearl River Community College

Director of Marketing & Communications


Twitter: @PRCCAthletics

Facebook: PRCCAthletics