Getting Arkansas back to college basketball royalty might be a lot easier if the Razorbacks and new head coach Mike Anderson can land a Prince to patrol the paint.
Garland (Texas) Naaman Forest center Prince Ibeh (6-11, 230) – one of the nation's top prep shot blockers with 170 during his last high school season - will be at Arkansas this weekend to take his fourth and final official visits.
Ibeh, who took an unofficial to Fayetteville in late August, has already visited Texas, Texas A&M and Vanderbilt and will join 6-8 small forward Jacorey Williams in visiting the Razorbacks this weekend..
"We just got that set up and he is very excited about making it back up there," Naaman Forest head coach Jeff Clarkson said late last week.
"Arkansas has done a great job recruiting him and been very consistent in staying in contact with him and letting him know how much they want him," Clarkson noted.
Ibeh is regarded as a four-star prospect by Scout.com and has him ranked as the 15th-best center nationally and the 54th-best prospect in the country regardless of position.
Scout.com bumped him from 100 to 54 on the basis of his play this summer with the AAU Texas Titans, who has a 2013 Razorback target in Julius Randle.
"He has worked hard to get to where he is, but knows he needs to keep working to get to where he needs to be," Clarkson said.
Many people are speculating that Ibeh, who was born in England to Nigerian parents, is heading to Texas.
"A lot of people think that Texas is the front-runner and he did enjoy his visit there, but I can tell you for sure that he is open to all four of the schools he is visiting," Clarkson said. "If he knew where he was going, he would not have taken the other visits."
Ibeh was invited to attend Kansas' Midnight Madness event called Late Night in the Phog on an official visit, but is declining to do so.
"Kansas came down and met with his family and wanted him to take a visit, but he is not going to do that," Clarkson said. "A lot of people might think he is crazy for doing that, but Prince doesn't want to waste anybody's time and he is very comfortable with the four schools that he chose to visit.
He has made it clear he intends to sign in the November early signing period.
"About a week after he gets back from Arkansas, he and his family will sit down, talk things over and then announce a decision," Ibeh said. "He does not want to wait until the spring."
Arkansas has several positives in its recruitment of Ibeh including Anderson and Razorback associate head coach Melvin Watkins.
"He has known Coach Anderson and respected what he got done at Missouri and Coach Watkins, who used to be the head coach at Texas A&M, is highly thought of down here and has done a great job throughout the entire process.
"He also had a friend from Plano (Matt Thompson) that is going to school there that may walk on with the Razorbacks," Clarkson added. "I know he has been working out with them, but don't know if he has for sure made it yet. I know he is telling Prince about how great it is up there."
Anderson has been very vocal about wanting to bring kids of great character into the Razorback program.
"He'll fit right in with that mold," Clarkson said. "He is a great kid. He has already scored high on the SAT so there are no problems with him qualifying.
"Prince is thought of so well around our school by his teachers and coaches and fellow students," Clarkson said. "Like I said, he is a great kid and no one will ever have to worry about him getting into trouble."
Ibeh has gone from a suspect to a prospect over the course of the last few years.
He averaged 6.4 point, 5.2 blocks and 9.3 rebounds per game last season.
"As a freshman, he was a 6-foot-6 kid that was real awkward, had no offensive skills and could barely make a lay-up," Clarkson said. "He grew a lot between his freshman and sophomore seasons and started catching up to his body a little bit.
"He is still not anywhere near where he wants to be offensively, but he is just phenomenal defensively and that is what everyone sees in him and the biggest impact he will have as a freshman in college," Clarkson said.
Ibeh has a 7-4 ½ wingspan and has patrolled the paint with reckless abandon for both his high school team and AAU squad.
"He has such strength and athleticism for his size and just runs the floor so well," Clarkson said. "He just has this great knack for blocking shots, great timing and it just impresses every one he sees.
"He may not be where even I want him to be offensively, but defensively you just couldn't ask for more than he brings to the court," Clarkson added. "He is an absolute force on the defensive end."
Naaman Forest was 18-16 a season ago, but expecting much better this season.
"We did not have the record that I wanted to have at the end of the season, but the best thing was we got so much better from the start of the season to end," Clarkson said. "We really picked it up down the stretch and ended making it to the second round of the playoffs.
"We really only lost one senior off that team so our goal is to win it all this year," Clarkson continued. "It's tough down here, but we think we have the potential to get it done."
Clarkson knows someone is going to get a guy who has a chance to be special.
"He is just so, so good defensively and there is just not a lot of guys out there these days that are," Clarkson said. "He can come in and help a school right away with that and that is why they all want him to come to their place."
Prince Of The Paint
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