Connor Vanover had 17 points and Gafford 16 points and 10 rebounds as they led the Arkansas Wings’ 16-and-under squad past Each One Teach One 67-57 Saturday night to reach the championship game of an event the Wings are trying to win for the third straight year.
It was fifth double-double in as many games at this week’s Peach Jam for Gafford, who is likely to have an Arkansas offer in the near future.
“I have just been working hard and trying to get better and doing what I like to do best,” Gafford said. “I am still working on shooting my jump shot, but I think the best things I am doing now are running the floor, rebounding and playing defense.”
The Wings will face the Georgia Stars Sunday at 1:30 EDT in the title game.
Gafford is averaging 14 points and 14 rebounds in five games this week with a single-game high of 17 in both departments and has also blocked nearly 20 shots.
“As for the rebounds, I just get it in my hand that the ball is going to be mine and I just go for it,” Gafford said.
Gafford recently got an offer from Western Kentucky and both Arkansas and Florida have hinted to him that they are on the verge of offering.
Wings founder Ron Crawford sees similarities between Gafford and former Wings and Razorback standout and current Chicago Bull Bobby Portis.
“Gafford is where Bobby was at this age, just a true 5 and Bobby was a 4-5 with (former Wing and current Razorback) Moses (Kingsley) in our line up.
“It probably hurt him (Portis) in the post for college, but helped him for the NBA.”
Wings head coach Raymond Cooper has been really impressed with the emergence of Gafford.
“Daniel has always been a great athlete that can soar above the rim and dunk, but he has really worked hard and become a better all-around basketball player,” Cooper said. “He’s just going to get better every day and he has such a high ceiling.”
Gafford’s play has also caught the attention of scout.com national recruiting analyst Evan Daniels.
“Daniel Gafford, an Arkansas native, was one of the breakout performers of the Nike Elite 100 event in mid-June,” Daniels said. “Gafford had picked up some interest prior to that event, but he didn’t have an offer sheet with double digit high-majors schools as so many of his peers did. I expect that to change after July.”
Arkansas head coach Mike Anderson has been front and center to watch the Wings’ 16 squad as it has gone 5-0 at the Peach Jam.
“I think Arkansas has a great program,” Gafford said. “I have grown up rooting for the Razorbacks and I think I would like it if I go up there.”