Building A Different Way
There are no ifs, ands or buts about it – losing North Little Rock junior basketball star KeVaughn Allen to Florida is a gut punch for Arkansas and head coach Mike Anderson.
Allen committed to the Gators quietly - as is his nature - Wednesday night without much fanfare.
The decision was met with consternation from Razorback fans as well as a tweet from current Arkansas star freshman star and Little Rock native Bobby Portis.
"Food for thought," Portis tweeted. "In state kids don't realize what being a Razorback means. They don't realize that we are the PRO teams of ARKANSAS."
But this is a new day and age and not every kid that grows up in Arkansas wants to be a Razorback like they did back in the day.
Allen chose head coach Billy Donovan's Florida squad over Arkansas, Memphis, Louisville, UConn, Kansas, Arizona and Baylor according to North Little Rock head coach Johnny Rice.
"I was thinking about that he would probably wait until the end of the summer before making a decision because when I would ask him about his favorites, he would give me five or six, not one," Rice said. "But I know he really likes the success that Florida has had in the (NCAA) tournament, their style of play and they have guards leaving so that was a big factor.
"I don't know that any one school recruited him any harder or any better than any other school," Rice added. "You know how quiet he is and how he keeps to himself. I know Coach Donovon came here in February and again last week and they seemed to have good visits.
"I don't know if Florida wanted him to go ahead and make a commitment or they were going to move on, but I am sure if that is where he wanted to go he didn't want to let somebody else get his spot," Rice continued.
Thankfully for Anderson, he landed the best player in 2013 class in Portis, Arkansas' 2014 class in point guard Anton Beard – Allen's high school teammate – and he and his staff remain on the case of Bentonville's Malik Monk, the top player in Arkansas for 2016 who had 59 points in an AAU game last weekend.
But more immediately Anderson and the Razorbacks have to hope they can get others to leave their state and come to Arkansas.
Guys like guard Jimmy Whitt (6-3, 170) of Columbia, Mo., and power forward Juwan Morgan (6-8, 210) of Waynesville, Mo. and/or someone like New Orleans Higgins small forward Melvin Frazier (6-6, 210) and Memphis Southwind small forward Donte Fitzpatrick Dorsey (6-5, 180).
Frazier – who plays for the Arkansas Wings AAU squad - is the 55th-best player nationally according to Scout.com, who has Whitt and Allen as four-star prospects and has yet to rank Morgan.
Most recruiting experts feel like Arkansas has a great chance to land Whitt, who has known the Razorbacks staff for several years since they were at Missouri.
Whitt is coming off a big-time performance last weekend for KC Run GMC at the Jayhawk Invitational.
He has offers from Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, SMU, Kansas State, Tulsa, Colorado, Creighton and Wichita State.
"I'm looking to wait it out this summer," Whitt told Scout.com after the tournament. "I'll put out a list of top schools at the end of the summer, and then decide later."
Scout.com's Rob Harrington offered up these assessments after watching Whitt this weekend.
"Whitt possesses a command of the action, buries mid-range jumper after mid-range jumper, and is a fine handler for shooting guard while also being a fairly quick athlete," Harrington notes.
"Whitt's free-flowing, yet intelligent offensive style results in high usage and high efficiency, and that style should benefit him in college as well," Harrington added.
Morgan already has offers from Vanderbilt, Wake Forest, Tulsa and Missouri State and interest from Arkansas, Creighton, Stanford and Wichita State.
Frazier already has offers from Arkansas, Texas A&M, Oklahoma State, LSU, UTEP and Houston.
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