Fresh off a 32-point, 10-rebound, 5-block effort, University of Arkansas basketball signee Steven Hill is all set to grab the spotlight as the three-day Holiday Hoops basketball tournament gets underway Thursday afternoon at Bud Walton Arena.
Hill, who has now grown to 7-foot, 252-pounds, will lead his Branson (2-0) against Fayetteville (2-3) in a 6:30 p.m. game on Thursday night.
"I'm really looking forward to coming down there and playing at the place I will be playing my college basketball at," Hill said. "Our team is excited about it. It should be a lot of fun and some great competition."
Hill, who is ranked as the 33rd-best prospect in the nation by The Insiders, will play in front of Heath and no doubt plenty of curious Razorback fans.
"It will be great for our fans to be able to see Steven and some other great talent in our state and outside of our region," Arkansas head coach Stan Heath said.
Hill, a Nike All-American, has grown from 6-10, 220 to being a 7-footer with 32 extra pounds since he committed to Arkansas almost a year ago.
"They will see a seven foot big man that can run the floor, has good hands and has tremendous upside, will play very hard and will play with some smarts," Heath said. "They'll be able to see a big guy with a bright future in front of him."
He will, of course, be Heath's first seven-footer at Arkansas and will join fellow signees 6-10, 265-pound Al Jefferson, 6-10, 235-pound Darian Townes and 6-8, 235-pound Charles Thomas in giving the Razorbacks something that don't have now in an inside presence.
"Steven was measured at 6-11 1/2 at Nike Camp without shoes," Heath said. "My guys play in their shoes so he's seven feet. He and the others are really going to help next year."
Thursday's action opens with Houston Heritage Christian battling Texarkana at 3:30 p.m. and then Oklahoma City Midwest tangling with Springdale at 5 p.m.
After the Branson-Fayetteville, the tournament will cap the first day action with Rogers taking on Arlington Country Day High School out of Jacksonville, Fla.
The Florida squad features 7-2, 240-pound sophomore center Jason Bennett, an old teammate of former Razorback Berry Jordan and someone who has already played before scouts from the NBA's Memphis Grizzlies and Los Angeles Clippers.
Another gifted sophomore is 6-8 Midwest City forward Keith Clark, who teams with with Kansas signee Darnell Jackson (6-8, 230) to form a deadly duo.
Jackson played last season at Northwest Classen in Oklahoma City, but he and his mom moved into the Midwest City school district during the summer.
He is The Insider's No. 65 prospect nationally and was the first commitment to new Kansas head coach Bill Self at his new school.
"He has a great body at about 6-8, 240 pounds, and he has an unbelievable upside," Self said in a press release. "He can run, he can jump, he's very coachable and he's very eager to learn. I think Darnell Jackson is the type of player -- with the way that we play -- who could be an inside force for us over the next several years."
Two other standouts are 6-3 Heritage Christian guard Richard Hurd and Fayetteville High guard Ben Tschepikow, a Razorback baseball signee.
Friday's action will begin at 3:30 p.m. while Saturday will kick off at noon with the championship game set for 4:30 p.m.
"It's a chance for some young guys to get a chance to play in Bud Walton Arena and our coaching staff to be here on hand and watch them," Heath said. " We've still got a scholarship available."
Hill highlights Holiday Hoops
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