Most people within the borders of Arkansas know that Springdale native Michael Sanchez was offered a basketball scholarship by the Razorback program before he ever played a high school game.
But Sanchez, a 6-8, 210-pound junior-to-be forward who is transferring from Springdale High to Har-Ber High in the same city, has begun to make a national name for himself in AAU circles and is about to have the chance to garner more publicity.
Sanchez is one of 120 invited underclassman who will begin play Wednesday at the National Basketball Players Association Camp in Richmond, Va. and then will make the trek to New Jersey to participate in the prestigious Reebok ABCD Camp July 4-9.
"I've been looking forward to seeing what I am going to be up against in the next few years," said Sanchez, who averaged 17 points and 10 rebounds last season. "There's going to be some great competition. It's quite an honor."
Sanchez will be rooming with and playing on the same team as Boliver (Tenn.) Central senior-to-be point guard Willie Kemp at the NBPA event and they know they are also rooming together at the Reebok ABCD Camp in Teaneck, N.J.
"It's going to be pretty sweet playing with him," Sanchez said. "We'll be looking for each other. It's going to be fun. He's just a great point guard who definitely gets the ball to the open man, but can score on his own as well. He is not selfish at all."
Sanchez' Arkansas Hawks team had a lot of success in the spring and early summer and he feels like his individual game has been lifted as well.
"I've been working on my mid-range jump shot and coming off the screen and shooting the jump shot more," Sanchez said. "I've been working on my perimeter game, but not forgetting to work on my inside one, too."
Hawks head coach Kevin Kyzer echoes those sentiments about Sanchez, who is ranked as the 42nd best player nationally in the class of 2007 by Scout.com.
"At the end of the school year, he was kind of flipping his shot up, but now he has got it up higher and is stroking it," Kyzer said. "He is shooting off the dribble better and his mid-range game is really coming along and getting a little bit better."
Kyzer also thinks his mental game is coming along.
"He does try to force himself in the lane sometimes and gets in a little bit of foul trouble," Kyzer said. "But he is getting better now at pulling up from 5-to-7 feet and knocking down the jumper."
It's certainly not a problem of aggression.
"He is almost too competitive," Kyzer said. "He is at a point where he is so aggressive that he sometimes draws too much attention to himself on the floor from the referees. He throw a shoulder into somebody so hard and then they are looking for it the next time.
"You want a guy to be that competitive and play, but he is starting to understand better how to control that and understand that sometimes attention isn't all that good," Kyzer added.
After the camps, Sanchez and the Hawks will return to action at the Reebok Big Time Tournament in Las Vegas on July 22-26 and then finish out their AAU campaign with the Kansas City Prep Invitational July 28-31 in Kansas City, Mo.
"I think it's going to be an exciting month or so and I am determined to just play the best I can and keep trying to get better," Sanchez said. "I don't want to let up."
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