The Big Apple

In his weekly recruiting column for Hawgs Illustrated and The Morning News of Northwest Arkansas, Dudley E. Dawson talks about his visit to the Big Apple as well as Michael Sanchez and the other UA basketball prospects he covered at the Reebok ABCD Camp in Teaneck, N.J.

This past week was the fourth time in my life I have been in either the New York or New Jersey area, but the first time I spent more than a day or two there and certainly the first time I truly felt comfortable with my surroundings.

During the days before and after I covered potential University of Arkansas basketball recruits at the Reebok ABCD Camp in Teaneck, N.J., I took a little time to see all the sights of New York City and the surrounding area.

Things like taking in a Yankees game in the Bronx, hanging out in Times Square and visiting the Saturday Night Live studios in Manhattan, going to Ground Zero and also visiting Harlem, Rucker Park, Staten Island, Coney Island, Queens and Brooklyn.

Not to mention taking in Central Park, the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State building and so on. Even went on a tour of all the places the Sopranos are filmed in New Jersey and had my first cannoli.

I was a busy man - hopping on a plethora of subways, trains, buses, air trans, shuttles, driving, etc. - when not on the clock for Hawgs Illustrated and it was thrilling.

The later in the week it became, the more bolder I became as far going to different places and pushing the envelope instead of being so guarded with the masses around me.

The same could be said of one young Michael Sanchez, the 6-8, 210-pound junior forward from Springdale's Har-Ber High, who was one of only two Arkansas players invited to the event along with North Little Rock's Anthony Randolph.

Sanchez was very tentative early on in camp, deferring to the older players on his team such as the Bolivar (Tenn.) Central duo of Willie Kemp and Wayne Chism and basically just trying to fit in at a camp that is traditionally guard-oriented.

He struggled with just three points in his opener, was blanked offensively in game two and putting up just four points in game three.

By game four he was feeling much better and had 7 points then busted out with a 14-point, 8-rebound performance in a game that his Rockets' squad played against the highly-publicized and Ohio-State bound duo of Michael Conley and Greg Oden.

He showed not only a tough inside presence once he got going, but the ability to hit the mid-range jumpers and 3-pointers as well.

"I got a whole lot more comfortable and started playing my game instead of being so cautious about things," Sanchez said. "I learned the hard way the first few days at this thing that you have to be very aggressive and make things happen because you don't see the ball that often."

While the games were played in the afternoon and night, the mornings were set aside for skill development.

"Doing the skills and drills with the NBA assistant coaches here taught me a lot," Sanchez said. "It was things like getting the ball in certain spots against the defense and learning better how to take your man off the dribble."

He loved playing on the same team as Kemp and Chism, two 2006 prospects the Razorbacks would love to land.

"I think playing with them this week just helped me raise my game to a whole new level," Sanchez said. "They really lifted me up toward the end of the week."

It's been a busy summer for Sanchez while playing AAU basketball for the Arkansas Hawks, attending the NBPA Camp and then Reebok.

During the last few weeks letters have been piling up from schools such as Arkansas (where he has an offer), Kansas, North Carolina, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma - where sister Krista has played the last two years - just to name a few.

He'll finish it up with a trip to Las Vegas for the Reebok Big Time Tournament, an event where the Hawks will try to repeat a title run.

"But finally I get a little break before then," Sanchez said. I get 10 days between the Reebok Camp and the tournament in Las Vegas. Kinda seems like a 10-minute halftime."

• The 6-3, 175-pound point guard Kemp (Arkansas, Kentucky, Illinois, Memphis, Tennessee, Florida) and 6-8, 230-pound power forward Chism (Arkansas, Memphis, Mississippi State, Tennessee) were both selected to play in the Reebok ABCD Upperclassman all-star game.

So was former Tennessee signee Tyler Smith (6-6, 210), who had 18 points and 10 rebounds in the game. He is headed to Hargrave and looking at Arkansas as a 2006 signee.

• UA commit Michael Washington (6-10, 230) and 6-3 Michigan prep guard Ramar Smith (Arkansas, Illinois, UConn, Arizona, Tennessee and Miami-Florida) made the Nike All-Star game. Washington had 2 points while Smith was unable to play because of a Michigan prep rule.

• Memphis prep standouts Thad Young (6-8, 200) and Pierre Niles (6-7, 275) were both named to the Adidias Super Stars All-Star Game.

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