Arkansas has now signed a four-star point guard and a pair of three-star versatile players that should help the program going forward.
North Little Rock point guard Anton Beard (6-1, 180) signed his letter-of-intent Thursday afternoon – a day after Forrest City big man Trey Thompson (6-9, 250) and Arlington, Martin, Texas shooting guard Nick Babb (6-5, 190) inked their letters-of-intent.
The trio add to the two top 50 players signed last year in 6-10 big men Bobby Portis of Little Rock Hall and Nigerian-born Moses Kingsley.
"All three of these young men come from terrific families and we're happy to welcome them into ours," Anderson said. "We answered some areas of need with this class and that was to bring in some perimeter players and a guy of size. Each of these guys are instinctive players that possess versatility that is critical to our style of play on the court, but they also fit the makeup of our program off the court."
Beard is a four-star point guard per ESPN.com, who has him as the 19th-best point guard in the country and the 92nd-best player overall nationally.
He was one of only 15 high school point guards invited to the Deron Williams Point Guard Skills Camp and also attended the NBPA Top 100 and LeBron James camps.
Beard averaged 23.2 points, 5.8 assists, 3.1 assists and 2.8 steals for Little Rock Parkview as a junior before transferring to North Little Rock in the spring.
He also averaged 13 points, 4.2 assists and 2.5 rebounds for the Team Penny AAU squad this spring and summer.
"I describe Anton's game by calling him a warrior," Anderson said. "He's got a big heart and plays hard on both ends of the court each and every game. He's a gritty player. His toughness and heart is something you can't teach and his basketball IQ has resulted in wins everywhere he's been.
"Offensively, he can get to the rim, create for others and he's just got a great feel for the game, "Anderson added. "Anton is a great addition and we're happy to keep one of the top ranked guards in the country in his home state as a Razorback."
Thompson, who was offered a scholarship by Anderson while the prospect was in the ninth grade, averaged 18 points, 11 rebounds and 4 blocks per game last season.
He is regarded as the nation's 30th-best power forward per ESPN.com and ranked as 3-star by both ESPN.com and Scout.com.
"Trey is someone who we've been following for a long time," Anderson said. "He's very versatile in how he plays because he has the strength to bang inside, but also has great footwork and the ability to step outside. He has a great set of hands, which is a premium for a big man, the ability to pass the ball and his upside is tremendous. Even better, Trey is another in-state kid who wants to be a Razorback."
Babb is regarded as the nation's 30th-best shooting guard by ESPN.com and averaged 15.3 points and 9.2 rebounds last season as a junior.
Nick's game breathes versatility," Anderson said. "He's a very athletic 6-foot-5 guard that has the ability to score the basketball, but also run the show. Nick is a high-character kid from a great family, whose best basketball is ahead of him. Our up-tempo style will allow him to showcase his athleticism, not only on offense, but on defense where he can guard a guard and the forward position."
Babb's brother Chris was the last cut of the Boston Celtics in October and is playing now for the Maine Red Claws, the organization's squad in the NBA's Developmental League.
ESPN.com has the Arkansas class as the 34th-best in the country with Kentucky (1), Florida (6), Tennessee (16), Alabama (22), Vanderbilt (25) and LSU (31) ranked ahead of the ratings while Missouri is 39th.
"Coach Mike Anderson did a great job keeping Arkansas talent at home starting with ESPN 100 PG Anton Beard and PF/C Trey Thompson," ESPN's Dave Telep notes. "Beard is a strong and physical lefty who can run the team, facilitate and score as needed, while Thompson is a big lane protector with excellent touch and matching upside. (Also) add (in) SG Nick Babb who brings the ability to excel on and off the ball, get to the rim and set the tone on defense."
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