Vermont Picks up Another Rice Standout Guard
The Catamounts didn’t have to go far to find their latest 2021 commit. Michel Ndayishimiye, the former Rice standout has officially announced his decision to attend UVM and play for John Becker and the Catamounts this fall. In his final year at Rice Memorial, Ndayishimiye dominated Vermont high school basketball, averaging 29.6 points, 5.9 rebounds and 5.8 assists during the Covid shorten season.
Going back to Ndayishimiye’s junior year when the world was simpler and people were naïve, the Rice star saw similar statistical averages, as he accounted for 26.9 points, 6.9 rebounds and 4.9 assists, leading Rice to a 21-2 record and their first Vermont state title in five years. In a bit of foreshadowing, Ndayishimiye would knock down the go-ahead jumper against St. Johnsbury in that year’s title game within the friendly confines of Patrick Gym.
“Hopefully if I get put in that position (at UVM), I can take one of those shots again,” said Ndayishimiye.
Strengths & Weaknesses
While there’s no denying Ndayishimiye’s talent on the court, Vermont high school basketball isn’t exactly known for producing division one players on a yearly basis. If Ndayishimiye were playing in Indiana or Kansas or even a stones throw away in New Hampshire would he still be able to produce those same type of numbers? Probably not. Ndayishimiye likely had the option to enroll in a number of prep schools that could’ve pitted him against a higher level of talent, yet he decided to remain at Rice where he excelled tremendously and by committing to UVM, Ndayishimiye gets to continue to represent the Green Mountain state, which no doubt has a special place in his heart.
Strengths – Officially listed at 5’10”, Ndayishimiye is a bit undersized, but what he lacks in size is easily made up for with his quick-twitch playmaking ability. Ndayishimiye handles the ball extremely well and is a true volume scorer. He’s incredibly quick off the dribble and can push the tempo at a moments notice. Scoring his forte, but over the past two years Ndayishimiye averaged 6.3 redounds and 5.3 assists a game, showcasing his ability to impact the game beyond that of just points.
Weaknesses – “Vermont is a hotbed for high school basketball talent” – said no one ever. The level of competition around Ndayishimiye is essentially the elephant in the room here. Had Ndayishimiye produced similar numbers elsewhere he’d likely be on his way to Kentucky or Duke, but while being a big fish in a small pond has its perks, Ndayishimiye’s ceiling at the next level is much lower when compared some of Vermont’s other recent recruits such as Sam Alamutu or Evan Guillory. Although basketball as a whole is shifting towards an almost position-less approach, his lack of height isn’t doing him any favors either. Ndayishimiye’s raw athleticism and talent was good enough to help handle his defensive assignments, but at the collegiate level Ndayishimiye will need to put in serious work on that side of the court before he can even dream of suiting up for real game action.
Although nothing was officially announced, it’s well assumed that Ndayishimiye will be joining the Catamounts as a walk-on next year with an opportunity to earn a scholarship at a later date. We’ve seen John Becker and the Vermont coaching staff use this incentive method before, as former Rice standout Ben Shungu and more recently Nick Fiorillo both went from walk-ons to full scholarship players during their tenure at Vermont.
There’s already been a lot of similarities drawn between Ndayishimiye and Shungu, yet while their paths to playing for Vermont might be similar, their playing styles are completely different. Shungu’s work ethic is off the charts and his continued improvement from former walk-on to now one of Vermont’s best players should not be set as the expectations for Ndayishimiye. Now, that’s not saying that Ndayishimiye can’t reach that level, but he has a long, long ways to go before he can be in that Shungu conversation.
Along with the perceived notion that Ndayishimiye will be attending UVM as a walk-on, it’s also assumed that he’ll be redshirting the upcoming year. No player ever wants to sit out an entire year, but the coaching staff at Vermont has seemingly only elected to redshirt walk-ons that they believe can become contributors at a later data a la Shungu and Fiorillo. Again, Ndayishimiye’s expectations should be tempered, but his quick-twitch playmaking ability cannot be overlooked. Dedication and patience will be key for Ndayishimiye.
One last fun tidbit of information – Ndayishimiye is only the sixth player ever to be named “Mr. Basketball” by the Burlington Free Press twice during his high school career. Who was the last person to earn those honors? Rice Memorial guard, Ben Shungu.