Allen Headlines Rumble on The Ridge
One of the biggest surprises of the NCAA’s week-long early signing period that ended Wednesday was the decision of North Little Rock senior guard KeVaughn Allen to postpone his signing with Florida.
That has led to speculation teams like Arkansas and Memphis might have a chance to get back in the mix with Allen (6-foot-3, 190 pounds), but that is going to be a wait-and-see thing according to Charging Wildcats basketball coach Johnny Rice.
“When I met with him and he told me that he had decided to wait until the spring to sign, I obviously asked him if this meant he was opening things back up,” Rice said. “He said, ‘No, I am still committed to Florida. I just want to wait until the spring.’
“I know that when he decided to commit to Florida that the other teams decided to leave him alone. It’s kind of like they have an honor code among themselves. But if he does decide to de-commit, then you know that it would get crazy around here again and all those teams like Arkansas would start flooding back in here.”
Allen averaged 21 points, 6.8 rebounds and 3.8 assists last season and was named the Gatorade Player of the Year in the state of Arkansas and committed to Florida on April 30 over offers from Arkansas, Memphis, Baylor, UConn and others.
No doubt many Razorback fans hope Allen will join Columbia (Mo.) Hickman star and Arkansas signee Jimmy Whitt — ranked 53rd nationally by Scout.com — in a future Razorbacks backcourt while the program is also involved with Huntington, W.V., Prep power forward Ted Kapita (6-9, 220).
Kapita has visited Arkansas and Memphis and has plans to visit Missouri, Oregon and Oklahoma officially and take an unofficial trek to Pittsburgh before making a decision.
Allen, regarded as the 56th-best player in the country by Scout.com, and Rice will both be trying to win their third state title in as many seasons.
It’s a quest that will begin with North Little Rock playing Arlington, Tenn., in the opening round of the 18th annual Rumble on the Ridge in Forrest City on Thanksgiving Day at 5 p.m.
The other first-round match-ups of the three-day tournament include Jackson (Tenn.) Southside vs. Bossier City, La., at 3:30 p.m., Forrest City vs. Marshall County, Tenn., at 6:30 and Jonesboro taking on Hoover, Ala., at 8 p.m.
“That is our first actual game that counts and we will go over there with the expectation to defend the title, but we know it will be a great field,” Rice said. “We are going to be a different team than we have been in the past. We have always had all these guards and not really much of an imposing front line, but I think we will have more of an inside game this season.”
Allen will join senior guard and Arkansas football commit K.J. Hill (6-1, 190), junior standout and Division I prospect Adrian Moore (6-4, 180), 6-11 senior big man Sam Dunkum, 6-0 sophomore Kambrion Dickerson, 6-7 sophomore power forward Gentrel Taylor and 6-0 sophomore guard Jarvis Ricks as expected key cogs.
The Charging Wildcats will be replacing current Razorback freshman guard Anton Beard off a team that went 26-2 last season. Beard had a game-high 29 points and was named the MVP, and Allen added 28 as North Little Rock downed Springdale High 89-81 in last season’s Class 7A championship game.
“The last two years KeVaughn has had someone right beside him that would average 20 or so points like he does,” Rice said. “First it was Dayshawn Watkins and then Anton last season. I am interested to see how that is going to work this season.
“He has always been a quiet kid, but he is being more vocal and a leader this season and so I can see him working on taking over more. He is so unselfish that we played him at the point some last season so he would get the ball in his hands more and we’ll do that again this season.”
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