UA has Plenty of Great Hoops Options

In his weekly recruiting column for Hawgs Illustrated and The Morning New of Northwest Arkansas, Dudley E. Dawson takes a look at what seems to be left on the UA basketball recruiting radar and the tough choices the Razorback staff has in narrowing down its focus.

LAS VEGAS - Imagine going to a restaurant and having everyone of your favorite foods brought out and placed on the dinner table, covering every square inch of it and sending your senses into some kind of culinary overload.

Everything would look so good, smell so good and you could just imagine how great the experience is going to be when you are finally able to get at each and every one of them.

But just as you are getting ready to dig into the fantastic feast, somebody comes along from the kitchen and says there's a catch. Basically you have to choose just one dish and let the rest go to somebody else.

That's sort of how the University of Arkansas basketball coaches are having to look at their quest for the components of a 2005 recruiting class.

They will sign at least two players - a scoring point guard and a power guy - and maybe a third who would likely be a tall combo guard that can fill it up from deep.

"We feel like we have done some great work in identifying the players that can help this program in the future," Razorback head coach Stan Heath said. "Now it's just a matter of continuing to work hard and narrowing that focus a little more."

Take the point guards for instance, all gifted with the ability to put the ball in the basket and deliver it to their teammates. There seems to be seven - listed below in alphabetical order order - that Arkansas is focusing on the most, but they can only have one.

By the time the current evaluation period ends as July turns into August, this list will be even shorter.

1) Jovan "Wink" Adams (6-0, 160), Houston Gulfshores Academy - Adams pronounced Arkansas his leader Saturday morning just minutes after his Houston Elite team had been eliminated from the Reebok Big Time Tournament in Las Vegas.

Adams, who averaged 32 points per game last season, is also considering Boston College, UNLV and Florida, but they trail the Razorbacks.

"They were the first school that really came hard after me early on," Adams said. "They told me they were looking for a guard just like me. They think I can fit right in as a freshman and be able to take the ball, run with it and be their point guard right from the start."

2) Denis Clemente (6-1, 165), Miami (Fla.) Calusa Prep - The best pure shooter and scorer of the bunch in my opinion, Clemente and Miami Tropics AAU coach Art Alverez have never tried to hide their love for Arkansas.

Clemente averaged 34.2 points and 11.8 assists during a junior season in which Arkansas pounced on him back in February.

"You have got to give Arkansas all the credit for discovering him and working hard to get in position to sign him before he started blowing up and everybody else came running," Alverez said. "He loves them..."

3) Richard Delk (6-5, 190), Jackson (Tenn.) Northside - One half of a twin duo looking to go to school together.

Richard is more of a point guard while his brother Reginald is a better shooter and plays the two spot.

4) Devan Downey (5-10, 160), Chester, S.C. - Here's a young man who has had a brilliant summer and burst his way onto the Razorback recruiting scene while playing for the South Carolina Ravens AAU squad.

Downey, who averaged 27 points, 6 assists and 4.5 rebounds per game last season, and Clemente seem to be the fastest of the seven with the ball and a foot race between the two - especially to a loose ball - would be electrifying.

Downey already had scholarship offers from Cincinnati, Tennessee, South Carolina , UMass, Clemson and Miami before the Razorbacks jumped into the fray.

"I am going to do my homework and research on all these schools. Basically you can say I am just getting started with the recruiting process and everybody has a chance with me right now."

5) Byron Eaton, (5-10, 200), Dallas Lincoln - A former two-sport star, Eaton said last week that he is giving up thoughts of playing basketball and football in college and actually will not even be playing football his senior prep season.

Eaton, who led his team to the semifinals of the Reebok event and averaged 22 points and 7 assists last season, said on Friday that he has narrowed his list of schools to Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas State, San Diego State and Baylor.

"Arkansas has a winning tradition that goes way back," Eaton said. "I know they have dropped off the past couple of years, but I think if I come in and play point guard with the other guys they have coming in we would be winning again really soon."

6) Walter Hodge (6-0, 160), Florida Air Academy - Hodge is the only lefty of the bunch and made a name for himself last season as recruiters were flocking to see big man Alexander Kahn, who ended up signing with Kansas.

He's got Florida, Kansas, Arkansas and Hofstra on his list.

"It's a good group of schools and ones that I can see myself playing at," Hodge said. "We'll just see how it works out."

7) Marcus Walker (6-2, 165), Kansas City (Mo.) O'Hara - Walker is a player who has spent the summer proving he is more than just a guy that can score.

But just in case anybody forgot, he tossed in 38 points on Thursday during a game in Las Vegas in front of coaches from his current favs - Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, Illinois and Marquette.

"When I was at the (Reebok) ABCD tournament, I tried to show I could be a passing point guard that runs the show, but here my team just needed me to go back to scoring game," Walker said. "My shot was falling and everything was working for me."

o o o

The big guys that still seem on the radar are:

1) Kenneth Cooper (6-10, 240) Monroe (La.) Richwood - Cooper, who has dropped 40 pounds in the last year, is considering Arkansas, LSU, Texas Tech, Baylor, Mississippi State and Louisiana Tech.

He averaged 15 points, 11 rebounds and 4 blocks last season.

"I am looking for a good weight program and great academics," Cooper said. "I'll certainly take into ac count if they feed the post, how involved the coach is with his players."

2) RouSean Cromwell (6-10, 212), Memphis Fairley - An extremely cerebral player who is also a gifted athlete, Cromwell return from over a month layoff because of injury to play well in Las Vegas.

Cromwell is the epitome of a student-athlete, boasting a nearly 4.5 grade point average on a 4.0 scale that is boosted because of taking so many honors classes and is quick to tell you that he has won the award for the top grade point average of a Fairley athlete the last three years.

He is also a very polite young man that averaged 13 points, 12 rebounds and 7 blocks last season and is very proud of the fact that he took at least one charge in every game.

"I want to be known as a great basketball player, but I want to be known more as a great student and a great person even more than that," Cromwell said. "I say that because if the ball quits bouncing for me one day, I don't want my world to come crashing down on me. I want to have a platform for success that will allow me to achieve my goals."

3) Abdul Herrea, (6-11, 247), Miami (Fla.) Senior - A Panamanian native and cousin of former Razorback player Dionisio Gomez, Herrera is a big man who wants to simply play in the paint and not drift outside.

Herrera is interested in Arkansas, Ohio State, Georgetown, Xavier, UConn, St. John's, Florida State and Miami just to name a few of those that have been calling him lately.

"Dionisio just called and keeps talking about what a great school it (Arkansas) is, how nice the people are, what a great city it's in and how the fans love their school and their teams," Herrera said. "He makes it sound great and I am going to take a visit out there and see for myself."

4) Kellen Lee (6-10, 200), Denver, Colo. - Without a doubt the biggest sleeper of the bunch, Lee has never played a high school game, but has been a star on the AAU circuit this season with True Playaz.

The son of former NBA player Tommy Boyd, Lee is likely headed to Laurinberg Prep this season and will be someone to keep a eye on.

"He has a great feel for the game," His AAU Antonio Tree Adams said. "He has the genes of his dad and the game comes so natural for him. But he really is just learning how to play the game and why some things work and some don't."

"He is a great kid and his maturity is going to come along when a coach is able to nurture him," Adams continued. "He is so darn talented, but coaches are scared to touch him right now because they don't know what is going on up there in his head. He has unlimited potential and is NBA bound if he gets it all together."

5) Jeremy Mayfield, (6-9, 230), Fort Worth (Texas) Irving McArthur - A player that has really caught Arkansas' eye lately, Mayfield is a combo forward who looks as comfortable on the baseline as he does in the paint.

Mayfield, who went to the NBA Players Camp as well as the adidas Superstar one, is drawing interest from Arkansas, LSU, Kentucky, Texas, Portland State, Baylor and North Texas to name some schools.

"He is a great shot blocker and I think plays as hard as any big man in the country," Team Fort Worth coach Vonzell Thomas said. "He is a pretty good shooter. If he gets in the right system, he is going to be a great pick-up for some college. He needs to be where he can run and use his athletic ability. There are good reasons that eight or so high D-I schools are after him."

6) Cyrus McGowan ( 6-9, 235), Meridian, Miss. - A big power forward from Mississippi has shown interest in Arkansas and vice-versa.

His best performance this summer was at the NBA Players Camp.

7) Michael Washington (6-9, 220), McGehee - Still trying to decide if he will stay at McGehee and be a 2005 prospect or play next season at Mt. Zion Christian Academy and be a 2006 one, Washington helped himself immensely with his performance at the Nike All-America Camp.

He was ranked as one of the top 15 players there by one recruiting service and continues to think highly of Arkansas, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, Texas, Texas Tech , Kansas, Kansas State, Florida and Miami.

He averaged 21.7 points, 12.3 rebounds, 3.2 blocks, 1.7 assists and 1.2 steals and had 68 dunks for a team that finished 15-15 during the regular season.

"I really like Arkansas and a lot of the other schools," Washington said. "I guess we'll just see what all happens after I go down to North Carolina."

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If Arkansas signs a third player, it''s possible it could be one of the aforementioned guards or one of a number of shooting guard/small forward types.

Names such as likely NBA-bound Brandon Rush of Mt. Zion Christian Academy, Michigan's Chris Douglas Roberts (6-5, 180), New York's Jessie Sapp (6-3, 180), Memphis' J.P. Prince (6-7, 190), New Mexico's Harvey Hale (6-3, 180), Boston's Colby Santos (6-5, 180), Houston's Rashard Woods (6-5, 190) and Tennessee's Reginald Delk (6-4, 180) and Georgia's Lewis Clinch (6-4, 185) remain in the mix.

o o o

There are also a pair of junior college guards that have got Arkansas' attention in 6-2, 175-pound Clarence Sanders of Okaloosa-Walton and 6-4, 185-pound Ravone George of Georgia Perimeter.

Sanders averaged 18.3 points this past season while shooting 40 percent from 3-point range.

George averaged 19.5 points, 10.5 assists and 5.2 steals for a team that advanced to the National Junior College Tournament and finished 29-5.


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