Busy Kemp

In his weekly recruiting column for Hawgs Illustrated and The Morning News of Northwest Arkansas, Dudley E. Dawson catches up with Tennessee prep basketball star Willie Kemp.

By the time Bolivar (Tenn.) Central point guard Willie Kemp plays the first game of his high school basketball season, he plans to have announced where he is going to play his college ball.

"I would like to have it all done before I start my senior season," Kemp said Sunday night. "I'm moving closer and closer to making a decision, but still have a lot of things to take into account and some visits to make."

Arkansas is one of six teams that have the upper hand for Kemp, a 6-2 lead guard who averaged 19 points, 8 assists and 7 rebounds while leading his team to a second straight state title last season.

The Razorbacks join Illinois, Tennessee, Memphis, Florida and Kentucky on the short list of Kemp, considered the 32nd-best player in the 2006 class by Scout.com.

"Arkansas is still in great shape with me," Kemp said. "I love their coaches and their program and everything about them."

Kemp has been to Arkansas three times in the past year. On his last trip, he was named the MVP of The Real Deal on the Hill while leading his talent-filled Memphis Pump N Run squad to the championship at Bud Walton Arena.

"They've got great facilities and I feel real comfortable when I am there," Kemp said. "I think I could fit in really well there."

Kemp is aware that former Mississippi State point guard Gary Ervin recently transferred to Arkansas, but that didn't bother him or knock Arkansas down a notch on his list.

"Yes, I heard about that before it happened, but that really doesn't bother me," Kemp said. "I know he has to sit out this next year and would begin playing the same year I did if that's where I end up. I'm sure we could find a way to play together if that's what is best for the team."

Kemp - whose teammate Wayne Chism (6-9, 230) is also being recruited by Arkansas - has decided to attend the Reebok ABCD Camp on July 4-9 in Teaneck, N.J., and will room with Springdale Har-Ber High junior-to-be Michael Sanchez while there.

That will come just a few days after both Kemp and Sanchez - who had an offer from Arkansas before his first high school game - finished up play at the NBA Players Association Camp, an event inviting 100 of the nation's top players to Richmond, Va.

"It's going to be a busy time, but I think going against that type of competition will only make me better," Kemp said. "I just want to be the best player I can."

There has been some speculation that Kemp might be leaving the Memphis Pump N Run squad to join the Sanchez Arkansas Hawks.

"Right now I'm still with Memphis," Kemp said. "But I dont really know when we are going to play again."

Kemp took a visit to Tennessee over a week ago and will be at Illinois this upcoming weekend.

"The visit to Tennessee was okay," Kemp said. "It went all right and I got to meet their new coaches and see what they were about.

"I'm taking an unofficial to Illinois this weekend just to check it out and see if it is something that would be a fit for me," Kemp continued. "I've already been to Memphis so I have an idea of what they are about. I might go visit Florida."

Kentucky has not yet showed as much interest as the other schools on Kemps list.

"I like them, but the others have been after me more," Kemp said. "We'll just wait and see how that shakes out."

o o o

...Michael Washington, the 6-10, 230-pound senior-to-be forward from McGehee who landed at Cleveland (Texas) Heritage Christian last season, had a solid performance this past week while at the USA Mens 2005 Youth Development Festival in San Diego.

In four games, Washington averaged 8.5 points and 5.0 rebounds - including an average of four offensive rebounds per contest - as his USA Blue team went 3-1 and finished second in the event that featured three teams from the USA and single teams from, Russia, Canada, New Zealand and China.

Washington's best game was a 16-point, 8-rebound effort in an 86-65 semifinal win over Russia. The USA Blue team was coached by Ron Crawford, who also coaches Washingtons Arkansas Wings AAU squad.

The USA trio swept the medals with the USA Red downing Washington's USA Blue squad 107-85 in Saturday's gold medal game and the USA Red topping Russia 92-77 in the bronze medal contest.


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