Dontell Jefferson to make it UA Fab Five

Dudley E. Dawson talks in his weekly recruiting column about how Atlanta junior college signee Dontell Jefferson will become the Razorbacks' fifth signee today, but that doesn't necessarily end recruiting for the 2004 class. The Arkansas Toyota Dealers have a special promotion for Razorback baseball. Click on a banner to enter a contest for free tickets to Razorback baseball.

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While he may not be as well-known as some of the famous Jeffersons such as Thomas, George, Weezy and Big Al, junior college point guard Dontell Jefferson certainly might be a very key part of what the doctor ordered to help revive the University of Arkansas basketball program.

Just how many big guys and shooters he'll have to throw the ball in a quest to help keep the Razorbacks moving on up and getting their slice of college basketball ‘s pie is still left to be determined.

Jefferson, a 6-6 lead guard from Atlanta Metropolitan College, will become Arkansas' fifth signee of the 2004 recruiting class when he inks his letter-of-intent this morning with the Razorbacks on the opening day of the April 14-May 19 late signing period.

He'll do so after averaging 16.4 points, 9.2 assists, 6.7 rebounds and 3.4 steals per game for the Red-Eyed Panthers during a 21-7 campaign this past season.

"I'm coming there to run the show and get everybody involved in the offense," Jefferson said. "That's what the coaches have told me. I am going to be the key that starts the ignition."

It's no secret that Arkansas has lacked a true point guard, quality big men and a pure outside shooter since Razorback head coach Stan Heath arrived two years ago.

That's why there have only been 21 victories these past two seasons, a number that just might be matched in year three alone with an influx of talent and filling of needs with this recruiting class.

Dontell Jefferson certainly fits the bill as the true point guard, one who gets his teammates the ball in situations where they can score, one that can push the ball and one that can knock the open shot down.

While the SEC is definitely a major step up from the Georgia Junior College Athletic Association, a visit to watch Jefferson play this season left me with the impression that he was ready to drive the car so to speak.

"He is a complete point guard, a pure point guard, just a tremendously talented big guard who can do it all, " AMC head coach Robert Pritchett said. "He...has just developed into a wonderful, wonderful player. He is destined to be a star on the major college level."

Jefferson, who left high school as a 6-1 guard that drew very little recruiting interest, has blossomed at AMC.

"I've gotten a lot taller and I've developed a better understanding of the game while still keeping my handle," Jefferson said. "Now I am ready to take it to the next level at Arkansas."

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Numerically Jefferson's signing would indicate that the Razorbacks' 2004 class is all wrapped up since they can only sign five players - four of whom they inked back in the early signing period last November.

But whether the class of Dontell Jefferson, center Steven Hill (7-0, 235) of Branson, Mo.; , center Darian Townes (6-10, 235) of Hargrave Military Academy; forward Charles Thomas (6-8, 235) of Jackson (Miss.) Callaway and 6-10, 265-pound Al Jefferson of Prentiss, Miss., arrive together is now solely up to the young man whose nickname is Big Al.

Big Al will officially announce at Saturday's Jordan Classic in Washington, D.C., that he is putting his name in for the NBA draft June 24th at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

He told Razorback beat writers of his intentions to do so back on March 29th, but also said that he would not sign with a agent so he could retain his eligibility and go to Arkansas should he decide to pull his name out by the June 17th deadline.

Sources around Jefferson indicate that is still his plan, but he will use the national stage this week to officially kick off his quest for good, solid info regarding his draft positioning.

Various mock drafts currently have him listed anywhere from No. 20 to into the second round.

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Update: Arkansas is apparently no longer involved with Kentucky sharpshooter Chris Lofton.

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Denis Clemente, a 6-1 junior point guard from Miami that Arkansas is involved with, played well with at the Boo Williams Invitational this past weekend according to Miami Tropics AAU coach Art Alverez.

Clemente is a native of Puerto Rico who averaged 34.2 points and 11.7 assists per game this past season for Miami Calusa Prep and was recently named the Class 1A Player of the Year in the state of Florida.

"Denis was very solid, scoring in double figures all four games," Alverez said. "We should have won all four games, but let a couple get away because we didn't hit our free throws and because we haven't gelled yet."

The Miami Tropics will be back in action along with a host of other top AAU squads and players at the Kingwood Classic in Houston on April 23-25.

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