POPLARVILLE — The post-season honors keep rolling in for Pearl River standout Brandon Rachal (Natchitoches, La.; Natchitoches Central) as the talented sophomore was named a Second Team All-American by the NJCAA on Monday.
Rachal’s inclusion marks the third time in four years a Wildcat has been named an All-American, joining 2015-16 third-team selection Darral Willis Jr. and 2017-18 honorable mention Eric Thornton Jr. (Canton; Murrah). Other Wildcat All-American selections since 2000 include 2007 second team selection Wesley Jones and 2003 third team selection Yandell Brown.
“Not only is it awesome for Brandon but it speaks volumes about our program. To have three guys named All-Americans in four years just goes to show dreams do come true here at Pearl River,” Pearl River coach Chris Oney said. “What’s so special about this one is thinking about where he started to now. This has been a really good year for him coming off of a year that didn’t exactly go as he planned.
“I know he’s excited and I’m excited for him.”
Monday’s recognition is only the latest honor for the LSU transfer. Rachal was also selected to the All-Region XXIII Tournament and All-Region XXIII teams as well as the All-MACJC squad. During the season, Rachal was a MACJC Player of the Week selection three times and landed the final NJCAA Division I Player of the Week honor of the regular season.
It goes without saying Rachal was a catalyst for the Wildcats in their magical run to the program’s first NJCAA Tournament appearance.
“It's been a long year, a successful year. We made history. We fought all season. I wouldn't trade this team for nothing in the world,” Rachal said. “It didn't end how we wanted, but it was a great season and hopefully we set a standard for the teams in the years to come.”
Rachal was one of the top players in the MACJC as a sophomore and led Pearl River by averaging 15.5 points and 8.7 rebounds per contest. He also shot 49.7 percent from the floor with 2.7 assists and 1.7 steals per game.
Now that the 2018-19 season is over and Rachal is weighing his options and being wooed by recruiters from coast to coast, was his year in Poplarville worth it?
“It was a fun year for me. Not even just basketball-wise. I came in and got offers and was in the position I wanted to be in coming to JUCO, but the best thing about coming to Pearl River was the relationships I made with my teammates,” Rachal said. “These are going to be lifelong relationships. I look at these dudes like brothers and that’s the most important thing to me.”
Rachal’s selflessness is something Oney will always remember about his latest All-American.
“During the first team meeting we talked about buying in and serving one another. The first day of practice he was still out because of his foot injury but he was handing out water bottles to his teammates,” Oney said. “Now here he is a second team All-American.”