Four players signed letters of intent Wednesday with the Razorbacks and another is slated to do so Friday as Pelphrey and his staff have landed a 2011 recruiting class ranked third nationally by both Scout.com and ESPN.
That class includes 6-3 St. Louis area point guard and Top 20 player B.J. Young (6-3, 170), Top 50 forward Hunter Mickelson (6-10, 200) of Westside, Top 100 forward Aaron Ross (6-8, 225) of Little Rock Parkview and highly-regarded Seagoville (Texas) bruiser DeVonta Abron (6-8, 223).
"I am very excited about the young men that we have signed," Pelphrey said. "Each of them loves the University of Arkansas, which is why they are coming. They found our history and fan base very appealing.
"This class is a product of the hard work done by our assistant coaches in developing relationships not just recently, but over the course of the last three years," Pelphrey said. "We have been able to develop a family atmosphere when it comes to recruiting and I should point out the attitude of our current players, who did a wonderful job hosting these student athletes when they came on official visits." While Pelphrey can't talk about Madden until he actually signs and faxes in his letter-of-intent, he made it that the Razorbacks are looking to add to the haul on the opening day of the week-long early signing period.
"It's safe to say we're always looking forward to making our team better, whatever opportunities there are," Pelphrey said.
Only Kentucky and Duke rank ahead of Arkansas in the 2011 team rankings per Scout.com and ESPN.
"Obviously our staff wants a championship level program and that starts with quality student athletes," Pelphrey said. "One thing I have addressed will all of our recruits was that if they come then other good players will want to come as well. I feel with this class we were able to address several needs and that each player brings a unique set of strengths to Arkansas."
As long as Madden goes ahead and signs Friday as planned, the nationally third-ranked class will arguably be the best recruiting haul ever landed at Arkansas along with a 1995 class that was ranked No. 1 by some publications, but imploded before making it to Fayetteville.
"There are a couple things being ranked that high is good for," Pelphrey said. "Number one, it's really good for our fans. It is exciting for them to be able to look, follow and understand the type of players that we're going after to bring to the University of Arkansas.
"I think it's good for the recruiting class," Pelphrey added. "Any time you're a part of something, you want to have success with it. The true measure of a recruiting class is where it ends up in a few years."
When you add in Madden, the Razorback staff has a player for each of the five positions on the floor in this recruiting class.
None of those are even being consider for a redshirt and are all expected to contribute right away.
"There's no thought process of mine that any of these young men would need (a redshirt)," Pelphrey said. "These young men are coming in here to play. That's why they're coming here and that's why we recruited them."
Arkansas offered in-state talents Ross, Mickelson and Madden all before they were sophomores and Pelphrey and his staff have been constants at the trio's high school and AAU games.
They led the Arkansas Wings to the 17-and-under AAU National title in July in Orlando.
"There's been a lot of hard work put into it the last two or three year," Pelphrey said. "Sometimes in recruiting, you don't get to reap the rewards of your hard work and labor, but today we do. I'm very excited about these young men. They're all uniquely different. They're all more than capable of coming in and making an impact."
Young chose Arkansas over Indiana, Marquette, Baylor and Illinois State among others, is the highest-ranked of the signees.
He is a five-star prospect and the 17th-best player overall according to Scout.com and No. 19 per ESPN.
He and Madden could play both the guard spots and work in conjunction as Kentucky's John Wall and Eric Bledsoe did so well for the Wildcats last season.
Young, who plays for McCluer North in Florissant, Mo., had a plethora of 30 and 40-point games this spring and summer while playing for the St. Louis Gameface AAU program.
"I believe that B.J. is one of the best scorers from this class," Pelphrey said. "He has great speed and an uncanny ability to get to the basket. He has a tremendous energy and a high threshold for work. B.J. is one of the more unique players that because of the way he loves to play and compete, he is able to influence those around him."
Pelphrey noted that Young – one of the standouts at the NBA Top 100 Players Camp last summer - might as well have been an Arkansan seeing as how his mom is from Little Rock and he has spent so much time in the state.
"I think B.J. feels a kinship with the state of Arkansas because his mom has a tremendous amount of family from here," Pelphrey said. "I think that played a role in the excitement that he has for the Razorbacks."
Pelphrey took time to thank Ross for being the first of the four to commit back when he was in the ninth grade.
Tennessee, Ole Miss, Cincinnati, East Carolina and Marquette all tried to get him to change his mind.
"Aaron Ross will always have a special place in my heart because he was the first to believe in what we were doing and wanted to be a Razorback," Pelphrey said.
"He is a skilled offensive player who is continuing to develop," Pelphrey added. "He is capable of scoring in and around the basket as well as on the perimeter. He has worked extremely hard on his perimeter shot and because of that he will be a tremendous match-up problem for opponents. He has become a legitimate threat from the perimeter with the ability to drive to the basket and be a playmaker."
Ross said he was destined to be a Razorback from the day he was offered by Pelphrey.
"They called me and wrote me and wanted me to come visit just in case, but I've never wanted to be anything but a Razorback. I am really excited about the dream coming true and being able to play with my (Wings) teammates and having a chance to win a national championship."
Carlos Conley, Ross' brother, echoed those sentiments.
"It was a great day for my brother and my family and I just want to publically thank Coach Pelphrey and (Arkansas assistant) Coach (Tom) Ostrom for identifying Aaron's talent and sticking with him. I am excited about this opportunity for those guys and I think have got themselves a great class that is going to win a lot of games while those guys are up there."
Mickelson, who had offers from Kentucky, Florida, Ole Miss, Georgia Tech, Wake Forrest and others, will also be a match-up problem in that he is a 6-10 forward who can shoot it from deep as well as score inside.
He averaged 22 points, 15 rebounds and 8 blocks while leading the Jonesboro school to a state title.
"Hunter is a fantastic young man who is blessed with size and unbelievable talent," Pelphrey said. "He has speed and quickness which makes him a perfect big man for our system and style. Hunter is very unique in that he has also been blessed with the ability to shoot the basketball from the three-point line.
"Hunter is also a great shot blocker who plays with a lot of toughness which should go a long way to make us an outstanding defensive team," Pelphrey continued. "Hunter has tremendous potential to grow as a player and become a great one."
Abron was the last of the five prospects to commit after choosing the Razorbacks over Texas A&M, Oklahoma State Florida International and North Texas State, but may end up being the steal of the quintet.
He averaged 24.8 points and 13.4 rebounds as a junior and had a career-high 50 points in a game against North Dallas when he was a sophomore.
"Devonta is another great human being, a tremendous student who is just starting to scratch the surface of how good he can be," Pelphrey said. "He brings a physical toughness to our team. He is a tremendous finisher and rebounder and because of his unmatched work ethic he has already started to develop his perimeter skills."