Longwood adds three during early signing period

FARMVILLE – Longwood men’s basketball added three signees during the early signing period, head coach Griff Aldrich announced Monday.

Aldrich signed guards Jaylen Benard (Cypress Ranch High School | Houston, Texas) and Emanuel Richards (Christ School | Irmo, S.C.), who will be incoming freshman, in addition to forward Johan Nziemi (Independence Community College | Manhattan, N.Y.) from the junior college ranks.

The trio of highly athletic, skilled players bolster a deep Longwood squad. All three will join the Lancers in the fall of 2023.

“We are excited to officially welcome three outstanding young men to the Longwood Basketball program! ” Aldrich said. “Jaylen, Emmanuel and Johan are three student athletes who truly fit what we are looking for as we recruit new players. Exceptional talent and ability – but more importantly, each possesses a keen passion to grow as a player and a man.”

The three signees continue the growth of Longwood basketball under Aldrich. The Lancers have set conference win totals for three straight seasons. It culminated last season in the program’s first Big South title after a dominating 15-1 run through conference play.

The team’s momentum has carried off the court as well. This fall, the program opened the fully donor-funded Basketball Performance Center. In addition, the Joan Perry Brock Center is slated to open this coming summer. The 3,000-seat arena will be one of the premium venues for mid-major basketball.

A breakdown of the Longwood signees


Jaylen Benard
6’2, 190 lb. | Guard
Houston, Texas
Cypress Ranch High School

Benard comes to Longwood as a combo guard from Houston, Texas, where he has played at Cypress Ranch High School. After sitting out his junior year, Benard led the Houston Defenders, his AAU program, to the championship of the Under Armour Association-Atlanta session. As a sophomore, Bernard was voted the district newcomer of the year.

Benard started his senior season with authority this fall by dropping 38 points, seven rebounds and five assists on opening night.


Emanuel Richards
6’4, 220 lb | G/F
Irmo, S.C.
Christ School

Richards will head to Longwood as a guard from Christ School. As a junior, Richards posted 19.9 points, five rebounds and three assists. A team captain and physical, imposing wing, Richards helped lead Christ School to a 13-win improvement from the year prior.

The powerful, athletic guard earned All-Region honors as well and was named Team MVP. He helped lead his team to the quarterfinals in the 4A NCISAA state tournament.


Johan Nziemi

6’6, 225 lb. | Forward
Manhattan, N.Y.
Woodstock Academy/Independence Community College

Nziemi will join the Lancers after he completes his career at Independence Community College in the spring of 2023. As a freshman, he averaged 11 points and 7.5 rebounds per game while netting 10 points or more 20 times. He had eight double-doubles, including 18 points and a career best 20 rebounds in the team’s season finale.

This season, Nziemi’s been on fire. A tenacious forward, he has averaged more than 17 points and 7.9 rebounds per game. Recently, he erupted for 34 points, a career high, and was named the Jayhawk Conference Player of the Week. That offensive explosion capped a stretch of six straight games where he scored in double figures.

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