It appears University of Arkansas basketball coach Stan Heath and his staff are trying to sneak into Auburn's back yard and get out with a gem.
Problem is Clarence Sanders is no hidden gem so there's several others poking around as well.
Sanders, a 6-2, 175-pound scoring guard who shined last season as a freshman at Okaloosa-Walton (Fla.) Community College, graduated from Central High School Phenix City, Ala.
"The Auburn campus is about three or four miles out the back door here," Sanders said. "I grew up and Auburn fan and until I was 15 or so, my dream was to go play for them. My dad would still like for me, too. But now I'm not so sure about that. There are just a lot of other great schools recruiting me and I can see myself going other places now."
Arkansas, Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Houston join Auburn on Sanders' list of five schools that he is considering.
He will begin setting up visits once he gets back to school in Florida later this month.
"I'm planning on taking all my visits before I decide anything and I am going to sign in the early signing period," Sanders said. "I'll know which one is the right one for me after the visits."
Certainly Arkansas head coach and assistant Rob Flaska have made an impression on the young man, who was named All-Panhandle Conference his rookie campaign.
"They are really coming after me hard and that's made me feel very wanted," Sanders said. "They are talking to me about how they are putting all of the pieces together for a great team. They've gotten the wide bodies down low, got some playmakers and just need somebody who can put up points like I can to round it all out. I really like talking to Coach Heath and Coach Flaska and I am looing forward to checking things out on my visit."
Sanders is coming off a freshman season in which he averaged 18.3 points while knocking down 83 3-pointers, just one less shot than he made from 2-point range for a team that went 21-9.
He knocked down both 40 percent of his 3-pointers and overall shots, 74 percent of his free throws and scored almost twice as many points as the next leading point-producer on his team.
"That was all due to my teammates," Sanders said. "They sit great screens for me, got me the ball in open spots and I was lucky enough to knock down some shots and help us win."
Sanders, who made the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star game as a senior, was averaging over 30 points a game at mid-season before suffering a foot injury that hampered his mobility.
"I missed a couple of games and then I could only play like the first half in some others there for awhile so my average dipped a lot," Sanders said. "But that's not what I am about - stats and all that. I am about my team winning."
In fact, for all his points Sanders says he is most proud of his defense.
"I really do think that is the best part of my game," Sanders said. "I love to get up on my man and just shut him down. That's just another way of contributing to your team and helping the team win. I don't want to be just known as an offensive player. I want to be known as an all-around one."
Sanders does admit to being more phased by the recruiting process than defenders last season.
"These schools are relentess and are all trying to put their best foot forward," Sanders said. "It's fun and a honor sometimes and other times it's a little overwhelming. That's why there is no need to wait. I'll just take those visits, make a call and roll with it."
High-scoring Sanders has UA's attention
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