Midnight Madness

Arkansas officially kicks off basketball practice tonight and will have some special guests on hand for the festivities.

Willie Kemp and Wayne Chism were foes last season, but now they're looking forward to seeing how much damage they can do together on a high school basketball court.

Kemp, a 6-1, 180-point guard, and the 6-8, 235-pound Chism went up against each other five times last season with Kemp's Bolivar (Tenn.) High team getting the win in each contest against Chism's Jackson (Tenn.) Southside one.

That included the state championship game, a place Chism would like to be again this season and believes he has a shot to get with his new team.

"It was a really tough decision to leave my friends back at Jackson, but I had to do what was best for me," Chism said. "There are a great group of guys over here and I'm excited about this season."

Kemp and Chism are two of the players expected to be on hand tonight for the University of Arkansas' Midnight Madness along with fellow juniors and Memphis YMCA AAU teammates Thad Young (6-7, 200) of Memphis Mitchell and Pierre Neils (6-8, 235) of Memphis Treadwell.

Several other players might show up for the festivities, which get underway with the door opening at 9:30 p.m.

"I'm really looking forward to getting up there and finding out about what all Arkansas has to offer," Kemp said. "I've heard it's a great place."

Kemp averaged 16 points and 7 assists last season for Bolivar, who was 31-4 under head coach Rick Rudasill.

"He is a true point guard that would rather pass it than shoot it, but we ask him to shoot it a lot for us," Rudasill said. "He's just a very good player who can do it all."

Being so early in the recruiting process, Kemp said he is just enjoying all the interest in himself from numerous programs.

Chism, who averaged 18 points and 14 rebounds for Southside last season, said he's getting the most attention from Arkansas, Ole Miss and Tennessee.

"He is a very good post player that is very strong and has a good touch," Rudasill said. "When I coached against him last season, I was very impressed and am glad I am going to be coaching him instead of coaching against him this season. He is going to continue to really develop and be a great player down the line."

Rudasill knows things are going to be hectic the next couple of years around Bolivar, who is part of the eight-team Rumble on the Ridge hoops tournament in Forrest City Nov. 25-27.

"The amount of mail these guys get is incredible," Rudasill said. "It's going to be wild around here as this recruiting process goes on."

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