Arkansas Eyeing a Bevy of Guards

In his weekly recruiting column, Dudley E. Dawson writes about the plethora of guard prospects that Arkansas is involved with as well as a couple of in-state prospects that shined at the Nike All-America Camp.

A recent trip to Indianapolis for the Nike All-America Camp as well as reports from the other prestigious shoe companies' events prove one thing.

Not only are University of Arkansas head basketball coach Stan Heath and his staff working hard on the recruiting trail, they are all over a bevy of talented recruits that they feel are the right fit for their program.

With the paint and the wing spots shored up, it's clear that the main priorities have become landing a pair of guards that can handle the rock and score and at least one impact player at another spot.

Arkansas is on some of the best out there according to Dave Telep, the national recruiting director for The Insiders network.

"To me Arkansas is in the process of evaluating a number of guard prospects - some very, very good ones," Telep said. "Now it's just a matter of deciding which ones are the best fits for their program, but they are going to get some great ones, some impact players."

Certainly there were several of those at Nike, ones such as 6-1 Denis Clemente of Miami (Fla.) Calusa Prep, 6-0 Walter Hodge of Florida Air Academy, 5-10 Devan Downey of Chester, South Carolina, 6-3 Jessie Sapp of New York, 6-5 Chris Douglas Roberts of Michigan, 6-5 Colby Santos of Boston and 6-2 Ryan Williams of Jonesboro.

The Reebok ABCD event (formerly adidas) in Teaneck, N.J., had 6-1 Jovan Adams of Houston, 6-2 Marcus Walker of Kansas City, 5-10 Byron Eaton of Dallas, 6-2 Harvey Hale of New Mexico and the Delks - 6-4 Richard and 6-5 Reginald of Jackson (Tenn.) Northside.

The Razorbacks have also shown interest in 6-5 Houston standout Rashard Woods, one of the best scoring threats on hand for the first adidas Superstars Camp that was held just outside of Atlanta.

There's also 6-5 guard Harvey Perry of Las Vegas, a post-grad who is headed to Brewster Academy next year, but remains on the Arkansas' recruiting radar.

While they all bring some different elements to the table, there are a couple of things that all of them can do - handle the rock and shoot it.

"That's something that we feel will be a major plus to bring into our program in this next recruiting class - some combo guards that can really shoot the ball and score," Heath said before taking off for the busiest month of basketball recruiting during the year."

Some of Telep's observations on the aforementioned guards:

• Denis Clemente: "He's better than I thought he was originally," Telep said. "Speed kills sometimes and he's definitely got a lot of that. I think he helped himself a lot coming out here. He is clearly a very good prospect."

• Walter Hodge: "He is a another guy that is just extremely fast with the ball," Telep stresses. "He reminds me a lot of Timmy Smith at East Tennessee State. He just gets whatever needs to be done taken care of and does a lot of things well."

• Devan Downey: "Arkansas really likes him," Telep said. "He is just a tough dude. If you get past the part that he is just 5-10, you realize he can just play. He is one my favorites in this class."

• Javon Adams: "Very good, fast with the ball, probably a two guard caught in a point guard's body," explains Telep. "At the end of the day, he is putting the ball in the hole with a lot of regularity."

• Richard and Reginald Delk: "I like them, but it is going to take a unique situation for those guys to go somewhere together," Telep said. "Both are guards, Richard more of a point guard and Reginald the better scorer of the two. It will be interesting to see who opens up spots for both of them as the summer goes on. It's hard with the two of them together."

• Chris Douglas Roberts: "He is the hardest guy in this class to quantify position wise," Telep said. "He is just a guard, which is great from a college's perspective because you can recruit him in combination with other guys and play him with other guys. He has had a good summer, not a great one, but a good one. There are plenty of suitors."

• Marcus Walker: "I don't have a great read on him as I do some of the others, but he can definitely score and is right in the mold of what Arkansas is looking for."

• Jessie Sapp: "I think he is still trying to find a home position wise," Telep said. "Right now he is probably more of a slasher than anything else. He is a guy that people are going to continue to evaluate. How high he is up on the food chart is till left to be determined by some schools."

• Colby Santos: "He made some shots and opened up some people's eyes," Telep said. "He is probably going to need to do it in another setting to win some people over."

o o o

The two players from the state of Arkansas at Nike both opened some eyes with their play.

Michael Washington, the 6-9, 219-pound forward from McGehee who is considering a transfer to Mount Zion Academy, was one of the top 15 players at Nike according to at least one recruiting service.

He is one of Arkansas' recruiting priorities whether it is in the 2005 class or the 2006 one.

"I felt like I've been playing pretty well this spring and summer," Washington said. "I'm just trying to have a lot of energy out there on the court and get some things done."

He'll decide sometime in August after a trip to the prep school in Durham, N.C., if he'll stay at McGehee and be a senior or head to Mount Zion and get reclassified as a junior.

"It's just a matter of deciding if going to that school will help me be a better player and a better student and help me get into a great school down the line e," Washington said. "As far as Arkansas, they are a good school and I like them a lot. I am thinking about them a lot."

Telep sees things he likes in Washington while noting that he is far from a finished prospect.

"He's bouncy, live, long," Telep said. "His game is still a little bit loose and is by no means a finished product. I think for him it is going to be about the situation. He needs to not focus on the immediate rewards and look at the long-term gains. He has a real good live body, but he stays out on the perimeter a little too much."

The other Arkansas player on hand was Jonesboro's Williams, who has benefitted from the opportunity to play point guard for the Arkansas Wings this summer instead of small forward for the Golden Hurricane.

"Recruiting has been tremendous for me," Williams said. "I have had numerous teams from the SEC, Big 10 and Big 12 who are talking to me. I feel like my showing at Nike will even help more."

Williams was a sought-after interview for the writers on hand that cover Purdue as he has moved into being one of that school's recruiting priorities at guard.

"I have heard that from the Purdue coaches and their writers," Williams said. "I am also hearing from Illinois, Texas A&M, Tulane, Vanderbilt, Nebraska, Arkansas State and Arkansas-Little Rock. There are a couple of other colleges that I am trying to get to know better."

One that he would love to get an offer from is the University of Arkansas and he hopes that comes true down the line.

"It's a school that I really like and would love to play for, but I understand their situation and know they are more on a couple of guys from Miami and Illinois and some other places," Williams said. "Maybe I can just keep playing hard this summer and it will work out for me. There's no hard feelings. I would like for it to happen, but if it doesn't I am very happy with the other choices I have in front of me right now."

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