Arkansas believes it has landed one of the nation's best point guards in the 2014 class and apparently so do the so-called experts.
North Little Rock point guard Anton Beard (6-1, 180), who committed to sign with the Razorbacks back on April 22, has been selected for two prestigious summer events - the Deron Williams Point Guard Skills Camp and the National Basketball Players Association Top 100 Camp.
The Deron Williams Camp is June 24-26 in Union, N.J., and brings together the nation's top 20 high school point guards and the top 10 college ones.
"It is a great honor to be looked at as one of the top 20 point guards in the nation," Beard said. "It's definitely a blessing. I am really honored I got invited to that camp and I am looking forward to it to showcase what I can do.
"They obviously know what I have the potential to do since they invited me, but I am anxious to get on the court and show them," Beard added. "Hopefully I'll do a good job and get invited to the LeBron James Camp (July 5-9 in Las Vegas)."
Beard is a four-star guard ranked as the 14th-best point guard and the 66th player overall nationally per Scout.com.
He has played shooting guard the last three high school seasons at Little Rock Parkview with 2013 Mississippi State signee I.J. Ready running the point.
Beard is currently playing point guard for Team Penny on the EBYL circuit – averaging 15 points and 5 assists and leading his team in steals so far - and will participate in the fourth leg in Minneapolis this upcoming weekend.
"It is a tremendous change for me because I am just used to running on the break when I was at Parkview and I.J. handled the point," Beard said. "Now it is my responsibility to bring the ball up the court so I have to change my game to come back and get the ball.
"I have worked on ball handling a lot and I am really enjoying the opportunity to play point guard," Beard added. "I am adapting well to the position."
Beard is being coached this spring and summer by former Razorback standout and NBA player Todd Day and former Memphis State star and fellow NBA player Penny Hardaway.
"It's great to learn from those guys," Beard said. "They have been where I want to go and have a lot of knowledge to pass along."
Beard, who was named a first-team All-Arkansas selection by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, averaged 23 points, 5.8 rebounds, 3.1 assists, and 2.5 steals last season for Parkview.
He did that while shooting 55.8 percent from the field, around 30 percent from 3-point range and 65.7 percent from the free throw line.
One recruiting expert that Beard has certainly impressed is Scout's Evan Daniels.
"I think Anton Beard was a quality pick up for Arkansas," Daniels said. "He can run a team, is a good passer and picks his spots well. He's a capable shot maker from mid-range out to three. Beard has had a solid spring playing with Team Penny. With weapons around him, he's played the role of set up guy but also knows when he needs to look for his shot.
"A top 100 recruit, Beard is Arkansas' point guard of the future," Daniels added. "He's the type of guy that will be able to carve out a role for the Razorbacks early in his college career."
Daniels had this to say about watching Beard play in the first leg of the EYBL in Los Angeles.
The new Arkansas commit impressed with his poise and pace against Southern Stampede on Friday," Daniels wrote after the event. "The Stampede didn't have someone that could defend him and he made them pay. Beard got a piece of the paint when he wanted to and either dished off to cutting teammates or had crafty finishes at the rim. He has a nice touch on his runner in the lane and is also a capable shooter to the three-point stripe."
Former Scout and current ESPN.com analyst Dave Telep also heaps praise on Beard.
"Anton brings an identity to a team. You trust him with the ball in his hands and he does a solid job of making everyone get a touch. Still has work to do on his offensive game especially so he's a threat from deep."
Brian Snow, another Scout.com recruiting analyst, is not as certain as the others as he waits to see how Beard develops.
"Anton Beard is a scoring guard who might be able to play point guard," Snow said. "Right now I do think he is a bit better as a scorer and someone who makes plays for himself as opposed to others, but he can handle the ball like a traditional point guard.
"He is an average athlete and a little undersized, but the bottom line is he knows how to score and is very efficient in doing so," Snow added. "It will be interesting to see how he is used in college, but no matter what he should put up a good amount of points in his time in Fayetteville."
Beard is excited about being a future Razorback.
"It's been great since I committed to Arkansas," Beard said. "I feel so comfortable with the coaching staff and I know that we are on the verge of doing some big things. I truly believe that."
Beard chose Arkansas over Missouri, Tennessee, LSU, Massachusetts and Georgetown among others.
Beard, who had committed to Missouri last summer before changing his mind, pledged to the Razorbacks after a home visit from head coach Mike Anderson.
"They have just made me feel very wanted," Beard said. "He (Coach Anderson) always does great things in year three like taking teams to the Sweet 16 or the Elite Eight. I think he is a great coach and Arkansas has a great future."
Beard was happy to get his decision over with early.
"Doing this now gets the pressure off of me and I can just concentrate on my game and my grades," Beard said. "I know this is where I want to go."
North Little Rock won the Class 7A state title last season and will be reloaded for the 2013-2014 season with Beard, 2015 prospect KeVaughn Allen and former Bryant star K.J. Hill – a junior football-basketball star – forming an all-star perimeter trio.
"It is certainly going to different," Beard said. "It is a change of positions and a change of teammates. I will be learning their style of play and it helps to be playing with KeVaughn this spring and summer. It will help me to adapt to his game quicker and get the hang of his game so we can push for a state championship again."
Beard and Allen are playing with several other Razorback recruiting targets this summer – all from Memphis.
They are White Station shooting guard Davell Roby (6-3, 180), the Hamilton brother duo of junior small forward K.J. Lawson (6-7, 180) and sophomore power forward Dedric Lawson (6-8, 195), White Station junior point guard Nych Smith (5-9, 155) and Evangelical Christian junior center Skal Labissiere (6-9, 200).
The squad is pushing to make the Nike Peach Jam July 10-14 in North Augusta, S.C.
"It's a great group of guys with a lot of talent," Beard said. "We are getting along together and playing well. I would love to bring some of these guys to Fayetteville to play with me."
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