The Arkansas Hoops Challenge

In his weekly recruiting column, Dudley E. Dawson writes about how the Arkansas Hoops Challenge will feature a trio of Razorback signees in Aaron Ross, Hunter Mickelson and Rashad Madden - who came aboard Friday morning - as well as 2012 prospect Archie Goodwin. This story is free and sponsored by the Arkansas Toyota Dealers. Click on the Arkansas Toyota banner.

When Dec. 18th rolls around, not only will Arkansas basketball fans be able to see its 2011 signees, but can also get a look at Sylvan Hills' Archie Goodwin – the prized 2012 catch in the state.

The Arkansas Hoops Challenge – which will have 10 teams and be played at Little Rock at a location that will be announced later – will feature most of the state's best basketball talent.

"I really do believe it is a great event that will showcase all the players that Razorback fans and other basketball fans in the state have been hearing about for so long," Arkansas Wings coach and event organizer Ron Crawford said.

In addition to what will then be a trio of Razorbacks signees in Little Rock Parkview's Aaron Ross (6-8, 225), Westside's Hunter Mickelson (6-11, 210) and East Poinsett County's Rashad Madden (6-5, 180), it will be a showcase for Goodwin (6-5, 180).

Madden signed with the Razorbacks on Friday morning.

"I know all the guys have been talking about it among ourselves and really looking forward to it," Goodwin said before taking in the Arkansas-Vanderbilt football game on an unofficial trip. "We played together all summer and now we'll all get a chance to bring our high school teams there and see how we all measure up against each other. I think it is a really good idea and I am really looking forward to it."

Goodwin, who has an Arkansas offer along with fellow 2012 prospect Jalen Jackson (6-5, 180) of West Memphis, already has some 30 scholarship offers.

Those include ones from Kansas, North Carolina, Kentucky Memphis, Florida, Tennessee, Ole Miss, LSU, Mississippi State, Vanderbilt , South Carolina and Marquette to name a few.

There were a bevy of head coaches walking the Sylvan Hills halls this fall at the school to check on him per Arkansas Wings AAU coach Ron Crawford.

"When you have head coaches like John Pelphrey and Bruce Pearl and over half the SEC coaches and those from Kansas, North Carolina and every other major school, it tells you just how highly thought of a young man Archie is," Crawford said. "There is no question that he is going to be one of the most highly recruited kids ever in the state of Arkansas and almost a sure thing to be a McDonald's All-American."

In addition to Ross, Parkview has the next big thing in freshmen guard Antoin Beard, who has already gained the attention of college scouts with his play on the AAU circuit.

"He really is going to be a special, special player and has already got a reputation as one of the country's best young players," Crawford said. "It is going to be fun to watch him grow and develop these next few years."

Crawford had wanted to have Jackson and his West Memphis team in the event as well, but they had a scheduling conflict.

"With the exception of just a couple of guys, you really will have the best basketball players in each class at this event," Crawford said. "We are planning on having this every year and I am hoping we can add West Memphis into it and just continue to make it bigger and better and let the fans see how talented this kids are and how good basketball is in our state."

Crawford's vision was to bring the best talent to a single setting and matched their teams up in competitive games.

"Two things really come to mind – one is how it is a place that basketball fans will be able to see the state's best players in one spot all in one day," Crawford said. "That's got to be exciting for everyone and I know the kids are very excited about.

"The second is how I always hear about people wanting to have the Overall Tournament come back," added Crawford, and referring to when all the classes met for an overall champion after the classifications has settled their state champions.

"This is the next best thing when you look at some of this schools and what they have accomplished and who they have coming back.

"You've got schools from the top on down on down who have won titles like Little Rock Hall last year in 6A and Westside in 4A, teams that should challenge this season in their classifications in Sylvan Hills, Searcy, Pulaski Academy and Dumas," Crawford continued. "It may not be a tournament, but it truly will be like a mini-overall."

The event is being played on the same day that the Razorbacks' 1 p.m. game with Texas A&M in Dallas.

One is sure the Arkansas coaching staff will hop a plane soon afterwards and at least make the last three games.

"It's exciting for us to put this on," Crawford said. "It should be something to really remember."

Archie Goodwin

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