Arkansas Fills Needs With Latest Class

FAYETTEVILLE -- Arkansas' latest basketball signing class may not create the stir of coach Stan Heath's first two top-20 groups, but rankings aren't everything.

The Razorbacks inked 6-foot-1, 175-pound shooting guard Sean McCurdy of St. Anthony's High in New Jersey and 6-9, 235-pound power forward Cyrus McGowan of Meridian, Miss., to open the early signing period Wednesday.

"It's nice to maybe get a feather in your cap for a recruiting class ranked in the top 10 or top 20," Heath said. "But at the end of the day, you have to find a player that fits your program. We felt we did that."

McCurdy averaged 15 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists per game for the 30-0 team at St. Anthony's that finished last year ranked No. 2 by USA Today.

He played for Bob Hurley, the legendary coach and father of former Duke great Bobby Hurley.

"Sean McCurdy is a winner," Heath said. "That's the best way to describe him. He's been well-coached, he'll be well-prepared to play next season for us and be a very good player in our future.

"He has very good shooting skills, good ball skills and he has a toughness about him. He has a winning mentality. That's what I like about him. He knows how to win and that's hard to teach. Sometimes someone just has that inside them."

McGowan averaged 10.5 points, 9.2 rebounds and 3.9 blocks per game last year.

The Razorbacks return everyone but senior Mike Jones next year and with a strong perimeter group already on campus, Heath has the luxury of grooming McCurdy and using McGowan to boost a deep inside presence with current freshmen Steven Hill, Darian Townes, Charles Thomas, junior Rashard Sullivan and sophomore Vincent Hunter, who is redshirting this year after reconstructive shoulder surgery last Friday.

"Cyrus McGowan really adds to our frontline," Heath said. "That's an area you can never have too many big players. You need that size, that presence around there. He can rebound, defend, his offense is going to come along nicely. We see him as a power forward. Everyone says he plays hard all the time.

"A lot of high school kids have talent but don't play hard all the time. This kid plays hard all the time. That's what I like about Cyrus."

Arkansas still has one scholarship it can use this year, but Heath said it's unlikely the Razorbacks will use it unless they find the right player.

"The right player would be more suited as a wing player, possibly even a player that would sit out a year as a transfer," he said. "We won't use it unless we absolutely feel we're going to get a player that can help us."

While McCurdy and McGowan, who have both qualified academically, may not cause a stir the way his last few recruits, Heath believes they will eventually be impact players.

"Sometimes you find a kid that's maybe hidden under a rock somewhere that really blossoms into a terrific player," Heath said. "Both these kids have the opportunity to do that. There's always some kids around the country in the big time conferences and you wonder, 'Where did he come from?'

"I really look at these two kids as we'll look back and say, 'Boy, they really are underrated those guys.'"

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