Arkansas likes what it sees in Kitchen

UA head coach Stan Heath made a big enough impression in trip to Florida to have 6-4 combo guard Derwin Kitchen wanting to find out more about the Razorbacks.

Derwin Kitchen will readily admit to you that he doesn't know that much about the University of Arkansas.

But the 6-4, 180-pound junior combo guard from Jacksonville (Fla.) Raines will also offer up that Razorback head basketball coach Stan Heath has peaked his interest into planning on finding out more.

"Coach Heath came down to see me about two weeks ago and was very cool," Kitchen said. "He talked about what he had gotten down at Kent State in just one year and how he was working hard on getting Arkansas back up to where it used to be."

Kitchen was aware that Heath had been on a national championship staff at Michigan State.

"He told some people that he didn't have it on because he was now at Arkansas and planning to win one (a national championship) there and then wear that ring around." Kitchen said.

Adding a player like Kitchen in a 2005 recruiting class that Heath would like to make a third banner haul in a row would certainly help in that quest.

One of the top five players in Florida and among the top 100 nationally by at least one publication, Kitchen has certainly made a name for himself the last two seasons.

He averaged 20 points as a sophomore while leading his team to the Class 5A state title and being named MVP. Kitchen punctuated that effort by knocking down a game-winning one-handed 3-pointer with 1.3 seconds left in a 50-47 win over Boynton Beach.

Kitchen made it two state titles in as many years as a junior by averaging 18 points, 9 rebounds, 6 assists and 4 steals per game and leading his squad to the Class 4A title last season.

"We've been pretty good the last two years," Kitchen said. "I have had a lot of great teammates and we have worked as a team to get things done."

That team success and his individual talent is why schools such as Arkansas, Wake Forest, Florida, Miami, Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech come to mind first when he thinks about teams he is currently interested in.

"I think I want to play in either the ACC or the SEC because of the level of competition," Kitchen said. "I think I'll more than likely end up playing at one of those two schools."

The modest Kitchen shies away from talking about his strengths.

"I don't really know if I am that great at any one thing," Kitchen said. "I don't know exactly what you would say my strengths are, but I do a lot of things pretty well like shoot the ball, pass it and make plays."

Jacksonville Bulls AAU coach David Jones noted as much in a recent interview with the Insiders network.

"He has the ability to dominate a game without taking a shot," Jones said. "He doesn't have to shoot it because he does so many other things – he rebounds, passes and controls the offense."

Kitchen has led the Bulls to modest success in the AAU circuit so far, but he is looking for a better effort the rest of the spring and summer.

"We just lost in the semifinals of the AAU state championship to Nike Team Florida and we didn't even get out of pool play down at the Kingwood Classic," Kitchen said. "But part of that was because we haven't had our full team together."

Kitchen will attend both the NBA Players Association Camp in Richmond, Va., on June 18-22 and the Reebok ABCD Camp in Teaneck, N.J., on July 7-11.

His team will also be playing in the Bob Gibbons' Tournament of Champs May 28-30 as well as Reebok's Big Time in Las Vegas July 22-26.

"It should be a fun summer and when it is over I'll start thinking about recruiting a little more," Kitchen said. "I'm pretty sure I am going to make it up there to Arkansas and check it out."


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