New York prep star eyes Arkansas

New York Gauchos guard Jessie Sapp has had a torrid spring and summer and has schools like Arkansas very interested in his future.

Ask New York City's Jessie Sapp about the schools that have shown interest in him lately and you're in for quite a list from the 6-3, 185-pound senior-to-be guard.

"There's Arkansas, UConn, Georgia Tech, DePaul, Marshall, South Florida, St. John's, Maryland, Miami, Pittsburgh, Kent State, Clemson, Virginia Tech - well, that's a few of them that have been calling," Sapp said. "There's a lot of them. It's been a little overwhelming, but it's flattering."

He's on his way to St. John's for an unofficial trip on Tuesday and has already trekked to Georgetown and Virginia Tech on his own as well because of proximity.

As far as Arkansas, Sapp says he has definite plans to make the long-distance trip to Fayetteville in September for an official visit.

"I am definitely going to take one of my five official visits there," Sapp said. "It's hard to get down there unofficially, but I will take my SAT and then get on down there and check it out. Location and how far a school is from New York is not going to be a problem. I really like the coaches at Arkansas and have a great relationship with their coaches. They have paid as much attention to me as you can."

He is well aware that Arkansas has a national championship in its past.

"I have been watching them and paying attention to them since back in the day when they won it all," Sapp said. "I think they are coming back to that level and I see an opportunity for myself to be a part of that if that is what it comes to."

Sapp, who plays his high school ball for National Christian Academy in Fort Washington, Md. just outside Washington D.C., is drawing such interest because of his play this spring and early summer with the New York Gauchos, one of the nation's top AAU outfits.

"Sapp can play the one, he can play the two and he shoots the ball extremely well," Gauchos coach Dwayne Mitchell said. "But the best things about him are that he is just a tough kid and brings it to the table every night. He is going to play hard and give it his all."

That is one of the reasons that schools like Arkansas have become very enamored with Sapp since he had a coming out party of sorts at the Kingwood Classic in Houston back in late May.

"I think coaches like the toughness that I bring to the court and the way that I can knock down both the mid-range jumper and the long-range one, play both guard spots, how I can get to the rack and the way I get after people on defense," Sapp said. "Things really started picking up after we played down in Houston."

Sapp averaged 14 points during his junior season for a 27-3 state championship squad, but has become quite the scorer in AAU play this summer and is averaging around 20 points per contest.

That includes a couple of 25-plus point games in the Rumble in the Bronx and a 30-point effort at the Nike Memorial Day Classic.

"Sapp has made a statement and it's been loud and clear," Mitchell said. "It's that he is one of the best guards around."

His effort in AAU play has raised his stock from being a mid-major prospect to one that has the big boys after him and has also garnered him an invite to the Nike All-America Camp July 6-10 in Indianapolis.

"I've played pretty well and people have seem to have noticed," Sapp said. "Now I just hope to take it to the Nike Camp and keep the momentum going. You can't rest a day. You have to get better every time out."

Sapp's intensity has fit right in with the Gauchos' traditional hard-nosed style.

"That's our nature - being aggressive," Mitchell said. "Sapp embodies that. He makes teams and players work hard and if you don't, he'll just embarrass you."

Sapp has played the point mostly lately since Lavance Fields is recovering from a foot injury.

"I feel comfortable at either spot and think my talents are suited to play both," Sapp said. "Really it's just about where a team needs me most."

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