WARNER, Okla. - Now that Arkansas has offered, Connors State power forward Willie Atwood is moving the Razorbacks to the top of his list.
That's not to say the Memphis native and junior college standout will definitely be playing for Arkansas coach Mike Anderson next season, but certainly it has become a distinct possibility.
"I love Coach Anderson and how his teams get up and down the court," Atwood said. "He told me that himself that he is going to let me play my game and not take me out if I make one mistake. That is going to have a big influence on my decision. It was big to get this one."
Atwood (6-8, 220) – who played his senior year at West Memphis after two years at Memphis Melrose - is a former Arkansas Wings AAU teammate of current Razorback freshmen big men Bobby Portis and Moses Kingsley.
He confirmed he got an offer to join them on Thursday when the Razorbacks put one on the table.
"I like playing with those guys," Atwood said. "Not only are they great players, but great guys personally. If you get along with somebody off the court, you are going to get along with them on the court and I have a great relationship with those guys."
It also helps Arkansas that Fayetteville is not too far from Memphis, the home town of Atwood – who is averaging 20.3 points and 9.2 rebounds this season while shooting 56 percent from the field and 78.3 percent from the free throw line.
"That is something that really will be a factor for me," Atwood said. "They are so close to Memphis. I don't want to just say they are the team, but they are in great shape because of the stuff I mentioned and they are close to Memphis."
Atwood has transformed himself from a 6-6, 180-pound prospect to a current 6-8, 220 one that suddenly has a wealth of offers.
(Connors State assistant coach) Cameron Henderson told me that little boy ball ain't going to get it and that I have got to get bigger," Atwood said. "He personally got me in the weight room, got me on the court and worked with me and I have taken advantage of it."
Arkansas has been to see him five times now and he played before Marquette head coach Buzz Williams, TCU head coach Trent Johnson, Auburn head coach Tony Barbee and assistants from SMU and Baylor on Thursday.
His current offers are from Arkansas, Florida State, Iowa, Wichita State, Auburn and Murray State with interest from those other teams mentioned above.
"It is going to be hard when I start narrowing it down to take visits because there are a lot of great people, a lot of great schools and great opportunities that I have put myself into," Atwood said. "My teammates and my coaches have helped me grow and get this chance."
Atwood had 26 points and 10 rebounds for Connors State (19-4, 10-3) in an 88-83 home win over Eastern Oklahoma State, coached by former Arkansas assistant Scott Edgar.
It was the 10th double-double this season for Atwood, who shined in game that also featured 6-4 sophomore guard DeVaughn Purcell (14 points) – another prospect Arkansas is looking at this spring.
"It was a typical night for me this season," Atwood said. "I knew it was going to be an up and down game and a fast pace so I knew that I had to be ready for it, be ready to handle the ball and score when I got the chance.
"You had better score when you get the chance against them because if you miss they are going to get the ball and race it back up court," Atwood added.
Atwood broke the school scoring record earlier this season when he had 49 points against independence.
He hit 33-of-39 free throws in that contest and has been to the free throw line a whopping 270 times this season in just 23 games.
"That's my game – being physical, taking advantage of my match ups and getting to the rim," Atwood said. "If I don't make it when I go to the rim, I'm usually going to get fouled. I'm just trying to do whatever it takes to win."
Atwood Excited About Arkansas Offer
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