Led by a pair of potential Arkansas recruits – Connor Vanover and Daniel Gafford – the Wings cruised to a 90-48 win over Team Texas in the inaugural 16-and-under showcase game.
“We had a lot of ball movement,” said Vanover, who plays high school ball at Arkansas Baptist. “I think the team played great defense. We were moving around a lot and it led to easy scoring.”
The 7-foot-3 sophomore-to-be (class of 2018) scored 10 of his 15 points in the second half.
As one might expect for someone so tall, Vanover had a few easy buckets right by the basket, but he did most of his damage with jump shots.
His first shot was a jumper from the elbow and then he made a pair of three-pointers. He finished the game making 6-of-8 shots, including 3-of-4 from beyond the arc.
“(Three-point shooting) is a big part of my game, but I don’t think it’s all my game,” Vanover said. “I’ve been working on getting stronger and being more physical inside, too.”
While the game ended in a blowout in favor of the Wings, Team Texas held an early 14-11 lead.
Then the Wings put in their second unit, which included El Dorado’s Gafford, and went on a 19-0 run to take a 16-point lead and never looked back.
Gafford, who is listed at 6-foot-11 and is a class of 2017 prospect, finished with only eight points, but made an impact on defense, where he hauled in five rebounds and blocked four shots.
“I felt I did pretty good,” Gafford said. “I feel like I could do better, but it was just a showcase game. I’ll do better next game.”
He made 3 of 6 shots, with all three of his misses coming on missed dunk attempts.
“See, the ball we had, it was slippery,” Gafford said. “It slipped out of my hands. I guess I didn’t have enough grip for it.”
Finally, on his fourth dunk attempt, he was able to throw down an alley oop.
Both Vanover and Gafford are receiving interest from several schools, including Arkansas.
“I like them,” Vanover said of the Razorbacks. “They’re a great school and they’re a great team. I like (head coach Mike) Anderson. I could fit in there.”
While neither have an offer yet, Gafford admits one from the state’s flagship university would mean a lot.
“It would be pretty big because most of the kids down from where I’m at, we don’t get offers from colleges that big,” Gafford said.
Vanover said he is also receiving interest from Baylor, LSU, Iowa and Virginia, among other schools, while Gafford said he is receiving interest from area schools: Arkansas State, Louisiana Tech, Mississippi State, UALR and UCA.
The Arkansas Wings 16-and-under team will play three games Saturday – at 12:40, 5 and 9 p.m. – with The Warm Up tournament running from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.