Kevin Thomas, State Fair Community College Men’s Basketball Head Coach, remembers Marcus Mondaine fondly.
“He was a good kid,” Thomas said. “Sometimes you would look in the back of the bus and wouldn’t know he was there he was so quiet.
“He was kind of the glue that kept everyone together.”
Thomas said SFCC will honor Mondaine, who was fatally shot Saturday morning in an apartment in Kansas City, Missouri. He was 23-years-old and playing basketball at the University of Saint Mary in Leavenworth, Kansas.
“I want people to know he was a great kid and a great representative of our college,” Thomas said. “It’s definitely a sad thing. In his remembrance, we’re going to give his mom one of his game jerseys, and we’re going to wear a No. 14 patch throughout the season.”
Thomas, who coached Mondaine from 2012-14, also said he is renaming the annual team “Hustle Award” to honor Mondaine.
The Roadrunners captured a bid to the NJCAA Basketball Tournament after winning Region 16 and District IV in 2013-14. Mondaine was the sixth man on a team with scorers like Joe Thomasson, Kedar Edwards and Kevin Punter, who went on to average 16 points per game in two seasons at Tennessee.
Mondaine attended Lincoln College Preparatory Academy in Kansas City, joined the SFCC basketball team as a walk-on and earned a scholarship entering his sophomore year at State Fair.
He was working at a Pizza Hut in August when Thomas delivered the good news.
“When I told him he would get a scholarship and keep his financial aid, he was so excited and appreciative,” Thomas said. “Sometimes when you give a player a scholarship, they change. He was the same Marcus. He didn’t expect playing time. For me, that will stand out.”
Josh Sash, currently a coach at Indian Hills Community College, was an assistant coach for the Roadrunners that season. He remembered Mondaine as a mild-mannered hard worker.
“We took Marcus basically as a walk-on at State Fair,” Sash said. “Marcus was not the most talented guy on the team by far, but, he did everything that we asked him to do. He was a guy that you could coach him hard and get after him, and he would never talk back or look at you crazy or ever had bad body language.”
Sash said he learned the news Saturday night through a half-dozen messages and phone calls – the first of which was from Thomas via text.
“Kevin Punter, right after I got that first text message, he called me,” Sash said. “It was a bunch of people at the same time Saturday night … You could tell, several of them when they heard the news, calling, it was impactful for them.”
State Fair Athletic Director Darren Pannier echoed positive sentiments for Mondaine and his family.
“Our prayers and thoughts go out to the family,” Pannier said. “He was never in controversy with teachers, coach or me. He was just a great student-athlete who got things accomplished – just a great young man.”
Mondaine was set to graduate with a degree in Health Information Management at St. Mary in December. According to multiple Kansas City news outlets, he was lying next to his girlfriend’s 1-year-old child when Damon Hammons, now charged with second-degree murder but not apprehended, allegedly shot him as he slept.
Thomas emphasized his memory of Mondaine’s good character.
“Sometimes we all make judgments on people,” Thomas said. “He was a kid who had long dreads. Sometimes the stereotype is that he was a thug. He was as far from a thug you can imagine.
“He was a kid who was on his path to having a productive life and doing things the right way.”
A GoFundMe account for funeral costs exists at gofundme.com/marcusmondaine.
Persons with information on Hammons’ whereabouts are asked to call the Greater Kansas City Crime Stoppers Hotline at 816-474-TIPS.
Alex Agueros can be reached at 660-826-1000, ext. 1483 or on Twitter @abagueros2