LITTLE ROCK - Three future Arkansas basketball players showed once again Saturday why fans are so excited about them becoming Razorbacks next season.
Arkansas signees Aaron Ross, Rashad Madden and Hunter Mickelson all had stellar performances in the inaugural Arkansas Hoop Challenge.
"It was a great success with attendance from all over the state, a standing room only crowd in the last game and great attendance all day," Arkansas Wings coach and event organizer Ron Crawford said. "All the Arkansas fans came out to see the three new Razorbacks for next year and I think they got a chance to see they all can play in the SEC."
Ross (6-8, 230) had 19 points to lead Parkview over East Poinsett County 74-67 in the finale of the event's five games that were held at Little Rock Hall.
Madden (6-5, 180) had 27 points in the loss as the best friends and Arkansas Wings AAU teammates got a chance to match up.
"It was fun getting to play against Rashad for the first time," Ross said. "We were talking a little trash, but it was all in good fun."
Madden, who heated up near the end of a first half after a heckler (who was thrown out of the game) began to ride him loudly, loved the contest.
"The game was a lot of fun and I really enjoyed the atmosphere in here," Madden said. "I just wished he could have held me more and I could have held him more, but it's what it was."
Arkansas head coach John Pelphrey and assistant Tom Ostrom were on hand for the last three games after flying in from Dallas, where the Razorbacks lost to Texas A&M in overtime earlier in the day.
Madden was trying to lead the Class 2A Warriors over the Class 6A Patriots.
"I think we did all right, but you can't ever be proud of a loss," Madden said.
Mickelson (6-10, 210) had 14 of his 18 points in the second half as Westside downed Van Buren 57-47 in the second game of the day.
It was a match-up of Mickelson and 6-11 Hoop Vint, the Pointer's unsigned big man who had 11 points in the loss.
"Hoop is a great player and made me want to work even harder," Mickelson said. "Two big guys coming together in the state like this in front of a big crowd made it a lot of fun."
Ross thinks the trio will be able to lift the Razorbacks program back up to a level it once was in the mid-1990s.
"We all work hard every day in practice and are getting stronger," Ross said. "The sky is the limit for us for Arkansas."
Asked what the trip would bring to Arkansas, Madden was even more bold.
"We are bringing a lot of hard work and a national championship," Madden said.
O o o
In other games:
Sylvan Hills junior Archie Goodwin had an event-best 35 points, but Searcy downed his Bears 73-68 behind 27 points from Ole Miss signee Jamal Jones.
Nebraska signee David Rivers had 12 points and Little Rock Hall blasted Dumas 85-55.
Darion Griswold, a football-basketball star who recently sent out a football highlight tape to 15 schools, had 32 to lead the Bobcats.
Pulaski Academy junior Dusty Hannahs knocked down 7 3-pointers en route to a 32-point performance in his team's 64-47 win over Strong Huttig.
Stetson Billings had 13 to lead Strong-Huttig.
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