The 15th Rumble on The Ridge
Some people serve up Turkey and Dressing on Thanksgiving, others serve up football and at least one city in Arkansas serves up hoops.
That would be the case with the citizens of Forrest City, who will be hosting the 15th annual Rumble on the Ridge basketball tournament beginning next Thursday.
"We've had some great players and some great teams over the years, such as in 2005 when we had Tyler Hansbrough, Monta Ellis and Tasmin Mitchell," tournament co-chairman Bill Baxter said. "But I don't think we have ever had this many players that are all being recruited by Arkansas and will all generate such interest."
Indeed it's got a loaded field this season, including a trio of Arkansas 2013 recruiting targets.
Those are Razorback commit Bobby Portis (6-9, 226) of Little Rock Hall, Memphis Southwind's Jonathan Williams (6-8, 190) - who visited Arkansas last weekend and New Albany (MS) center Moses Kingsley (6-9, 210), who was in for Arkansas' Primetime at the Palace.
There's also a top 2014 prospect in Forrest City sophomore big man Trey Thompson (6-9, 230) - who also took in Primetime at the Palace.
"We think we have us a really good one right here in Forrest City," Baxter said. "Trey is really coming along and is just another one of the great athletes we have had coming over here. I know Arkansas is very, very interested in him as well even though he is the youngest of the bunch."
The tournament could also get a big boost if 2012 Razorback target Jarnell Stokes (6-9, 245) - Arkansas' top big man target - wins his eligibility appeal and is allowed to play.
Stokes had an appeal on his eligibility heard on Thursday and should hear the result this weekend.
Stokes joins Kentucky signee Archie Goodwin of Sylvan Hills and Baton Rouge (LA) Riverside's Ricardo Gathers as the top senior prospects on hand.
"(Arkansas Wings AAU coach) Ron Crawford said that we had better be prepared because we are going to have packed crowds every night," Baxter said. "I believe he is going to be right about that."
Thursday's first round matchups have Riverside Academy taking on Little Rock Hall at 3:30; Memphis Southwind and Scottlandville (LA) battling at 5; Forrest City and New Albany tangling at 6:30 and Sylvan Hills and Lee (AL) High at 8.
Portis, who is rated as the 30th-best player nationally in the 2013 class by Scout.com, is projected to grow into a 7-footer. He landed offers from Arkansas, Florida, Baylor, Nebraska and Memphis after a standout spring and summer playing for the Arkansas Wings, but chose to commit to the Razorbacks early.
"Portis just blew up this summer and everybody got on him, but he wanted to be a Razorback and I know they are happy to have him," Baxter said.
Kingsley, Portis' AAU teammate, is raw offensively, but a dominant force defensively and is Scout's 38th-best player nationally in the 2013 rankings.
That's why Arkansas, Kansas, Georgetown, Ole Miss, Mississippi State are all showing heavy interest in the Nigerian native that blocked over 100 shots for New Albany last season. "I know Arkansas really is in love with that kid and how he can go block shots," Baxter said. "The just takes over the lane on defense."
Williams is a 5-star prospect and the 14th- best nationally per Scout.com with interest coming from Arkansas, Kentucky, Florida, Tennessee, North Carolina, Memphis, Notre Dame and Texas among others.
"He's already a great player and to add Stokes to that team and the other talent they have, well, Southwind is going to have a real chance to win it this year."
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