UA's Heath lands another Jefferson

Arkansas head coach Stan Heath lands 6-6 point guard Dontell Jefferson on the opening day of the late signing period, gets news Charles Thomas has passed the ACT and plans a visit to see possible NBA bound signee Al Jefferson next week.

A day after getting word that recruit Charles Thomas had passed his ACT, the University of Arkansas inked a fifth prospect in the 2004 recruiting class whose main job will be dishing the ball to him and the other three big guys the Razorbacks have landed.

Dontell Jefferson, a 6-6, 190-pound point guard from Atlanta Metropolitan College who averaged 16.4 points, 9.2 assists, 6.7 rebounds and 3.4 steals this past season, signed with Arkansas Wednesday on the opening day of the April 14-May 19 late signing period.

"He is kind of a throwback point guard in that he is looking to get teammates involved, he runs a team, he's very unselfish and he has very good leadership qualities," Heath said. "I don't want to build him up so much that he is the guy that puts us in the Final Four or something like that, but he has a lot of ingredients and tangibles that can make your team better."

Jefferson joins a banner recruiting class that also includes 6-10, 255-pound Al Jefferson, 7-0, 235-pound Steven Hill, 6-10, 235-pound Darian Townes and Thomas, who will be joined by 6-6, 215-pound Marcus Monk after football season.

"He will be a welcome addition," Heath said. "If I were a shooter or a scorer, then I would buy this guy lunch every day because he can really make things easy for you."

In the Georgia Junior College Athletic Association, Jefferson finished second in assists, third in steals, fourth in FT percentage (80.4), eighth in scoring, 10th in rebounding and 12th in field goal percentage (45.4).

"Dontell fits our needs on the perimeter very well," Heath said. "We are excited to add him as a pure point guard to our program. I feel that his maturity with two years of college experience will allow him to step in and contribute right away. He can run a team, set up teammates to score, his height at the point guard position is unique and his leadership will also enhance our team."

Jefferson, who has grown from 6-1 to 6-6 since arriving at AMC two years ago, is also a good student that didn't go to junior college because of academic shortcoming according to Heath.

"He is a unique kid in that he finished high school and he wasn't highly recruited," Heath continued . "He actually had good grades and that wasn't an issue, but he wanted to prove himself. He grew four or five inches and that doesn't hurt at all and has really developed himself into a very good point guard.

Heath plans to throw the 6-6 Jefferson , who committed to Arkansas back in December, into a mix that will include Eric Fegurson and Minnesota transfer Maurice "Mo" Hargrow at the point.

"His size helps him more than his speed and quickness," Heath said. "He's got good speed and quickness and can change gears pretty good and keep you off balance, but he is not one of those bullet-jet point guards. He is a more of a guy that you just give the ball and as a coach you feel pretty confident that something good is going to happen and he is going to get the ball to the right guy at the right time."

The aforementioned seven players are all over 6-5, something that will transform the Arkansas roster and makes trying to define a starting line up a big chore.

"I am more into an 8 or 9-man playing crew and I want to keep my guys hungry to fight and scrap to earn those spots," Heath said. "Sometimes your best starters are not necessarily your best players. It is just a group of guys that start the game best. You would rather than be a finisher than a starter."

Dontell Jefferson's signing likely ends the 2004 recruiting for Arkansas, who is still waiting to see if Al Jefferson will end up in the NBA or on the Fayetteville campus next season.

Heath is scheduled to meet with Al Jefferson next week in the player's hometown of Prentiss, Miss.

Sources indicate that the Razorbacks are no longer involved with Kentucky prep sharpshooter Chris Lofton, but are keeping their options open.

"We have stayed involved with a couple of guys here and there, but if I were to guess because of the situation that is going to play out with Al, I really don't see anything happening in the near future," Heath said. "Unless something might come available if Jefferson were to go like a transfer. There really is no urgency to bring anybody else in."

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