Junior college hoops talent

In his weekly recruiting column for Hawgs Illustrated and The Morning News of Northwest Arkansas, Dudley E. Dawson sizes up 2005 junior college hoops prospect Rekalin Sims and 2006 standouts Sonny Weems and Nick Stiggers. This story is sponsored by the Arkansas Toyota Dealers. It's free and so is an offer on the their website. Click on a banner for details.

University of Arkansas head basketball coach Stan Heath always dangled out there the possibility of adding a third recruit to his 2005 class.

But he also made it clear that any additional signee would have to be an immediate contributor or he would just tuck that scholarship away to use for what's shaping up as a talent-filled 2006 crop.

It appears one 2005 prospect who just might possibly fit that immediate impact bill is 6-8, 200-pound forward Rekalin Sims of Salt Lake (Utah) Community College, who originally signed with the University of San Francisco out of high school.

Sources indicate that the Razorbacks will be flying out to see him play later this week and are now one of the teams involved in his recruitment.

Sims, Street and Smith's preseason junior college national player of the year, has certainly lived up to that billing by leading the Scenic West Athletic Conference with 18.8 points per game.

He also also ranking second in the league in rebounding with a 9.1 mark in an average of just 26.8 minutes per game.

He played his high school ball at Oakland (Calif.) De La Salle and spent a year at Maine Central Prep, where he averaged 15 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists in 2002-2003.

He signed with the Dons at that point, but ended up at Salt Lake CC and went out and averaged 19 points and 8 rebounds in his rookie season.

He was named a second-team All-American and the Region 18 Player of the Year.

Salt Lake head coach Norm Parrish is obviously a big fan of his star player, who has led the Bruins to a 16-4 mark this season heading into a two-game set this weekend at Colorado Northwestern.

"Rekalin can score in any way possible," Parrish said on his team's website. "He can post, he can shoot the three or he can put the ball on the floor. He is an outstanding player, one that is a pleasure to watch."

Sims is hitting 43.2 of his overall field goal attempts, 30.8 percent from beyond the 3-point arc and 75.9 percent from the line while getting to the free throw stripe 108 times in 20 games.

He has been remarkably consistent seeing with season highs of 30 points and 18 rebounds while posting 7 double doubles this season.

Sims' current list includes Arkansas, Texas A&M, Arizona State, Tennessee, Iowa State, Virginia Tech, Miami and USC.

"Arkansas is just getting involved," SLCC assistant coach Michael Ostlund said. "In fact that will have a staff member out here day after tommorrow (Thursday)."

He has yet to take any of his five official visits for this season.

"He didn't visit anyone during the fall and was just seeing who got in before doing so," Ostlund said. "I would imagine he will take all of his visits after our season is finished."

o o o

One 2006 junior college player already on the Arkansas recruiting radar is former West Memphis star and current University of Arkansas-Fort Smith standout Sonny Weems, a 6-foot-6 guard with great range and impressive athleticism.

Weems has been a major part of why the Lions are off to a 20-3 start headed into Thursday's game at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M by averaging a team-leading 14.8 points and 4.6 rebounds per game while shooting around 40 percent from three-point range.

"He's played really well for us this year and I think has really improved in some areas for us since high school as his outside shooting and being more aggressive to taking it to the basket," UAFS head coach Jeremy Cox said. "As he gets stronger and more mentally mature, he's just going to be a great, great player."

Weems, whose given name is Clarence, helped lead West Memphis to the Class AAAAA state title last season and is receiving attention from a lot of schools such as Arkansas, UAB, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma and Florida according to Cox.

"I'm hearing from Arkansas, UAB and some others," Weems said. "It's been exciting, but I'm not letting it go to my head and just coming out and continuing to work hard."

Weems came up for the Razorbacks' Midnight Madness and has certainly kept up with how their season is going.

"I really like the coaches and players up there and think they are really about to have a big-time program again," Weems said. "It's certainly something I could see myself being a part of. I really like Coach Stan Heath and what he is doing in getting the program turned back around."

That success has continued with his trek to the school, formerly known as Westark, and flourishing this season under Cox, the second-year head coach.

"I feel like I have made the adjustment pretty well," Weems said. "The game moves faster up here and there are some great athletes, but in the end its still about playing good basketball, moving the ball and getting good shots and playing defense."

o o o

Weems and UAFS downed Connors State 79-74 last Thursday in a matchup that also featured 6-9, 260-pound freshman power forward Nick Stiggers, who had 13 points in his team's loss.

Stiggers, who grew up in Memphis and first became interested in Arkansas when he came to Fayetteville was on the Holiday Hoops all-tournament team a ninth-grader back in the 2000-2001 season.

"Arkansas is definitely where I want to go," Stiggers said. "I love everything about them and my goal is to play my way into a scholarship there."

Stiggers started his high school career at Memphis Hillcrest, played his junior season at Montclair Academy in Van Nuys, Calif., and then returned home to finish up at Memphis Booker T. Washington, where he was ineligible to play his senior season.

Stiggers, who committed to USC as a junior but then did not have the grades to qualify, was ranked as the second-best junior power forward in the country by Insiders.com (now Scout.com) back in the 2002-2003 season.

Stiggers showed several good low post moves and skill during the contest, but knows he needs to drop about 20 pounds and get in better condition.

"I know I need to be playing at about 240 and I've got to get into better condition to reach my goal of playing at Arkansas," Stiggers said. "I'll get that down and hopefully I'll get my chance."

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