Stronger Brewer Eager To Represent His Country

FAYETTEVILLE -- A beefed-up Ronnie Brewer talked to Stan Heath's basketball campers on Tuesday and then wowed them with a dunk and back-to-back 3-pointers in the Razorbacks' pick-up game in Bud Walton Arena.

Brewer, who leaves today for the under-21 USA Basketball team trials in Dallas, said he's in good shape at 6-foot-7 and 220 pounds, after playing at 205 to 210 last season.

"After I lift, I run a lot more," Brewer said. "It helps my confidence a lot, knowing I'm selected as one of the top players in the country. It's a great honor, even if I don't make the team."

Arkansas guard Jonathon Modica, who is trimmer at 207 pounds this summer after playing at 214 last season, said, "I'm not surprised Ronnie was chosen. He's gonna make it happen. I'm very confident he'll make the team."

Modica took part in John Lucas' basketball camp at Houston, Texas, July 11-16 and got good reviews against the likes of Damon Stoudemire and Roy Tarpley.

"I did pretty good, I think," Modica said.

Brewer said the pick-up games the Razorbacks played during the first summer session "brought us a lot closer. You build team chemistry when you're playing every day."

Brewer said guards Modica and Dontell Jefferson had played well, while centers Darian Townes and Vincent Hunter looked "solid."

Arkansas coach Stan Heath called Hunter "Mr. Intangible" because of his versatility.

Hunter, who sat out last season with a separated shoulder, has missed some of the pick-up games because of a shoulder bruise.

"He's got his confidence back," Brewer said. "He's been away from it for so long that he's really ready."

Brewer said he first learned about his own honor from Heath while at a Nike camp in Indianapolis.

"Representing your country is something you dream about," Brewer said. "I remember looking up to the (U.S. Olympic) Dream Team. In my eyes, I'm supposed to be there."

Brewer said even if he makes the 12-player USA under-21 team and has a good junior year at Arkansas, it won't necessarily mean he'll turn pro next year.

"I haven't thought too much about that yet," he said. "Right now I plan on being in school the whole time. We have unfinished business at Arkansas. We haven't gone to the NCAA Tournament or won the SEC championship yet. Hopefully we'll make a lot of noise in the SEC this year."

With Connecticut furnishing three of the 20 players trying out for the USA team, and UConn playing against Arkansas at Maui in November, Brewer said he would study the Huskies.

Center Josh Boone, forward Rudy Gay and guard Marcus Williams will all be on hand in Dallas this week, with two-a-day practices beginning Thursday under coach Phil Martelli of St. Joseph's.

"I'll see what things they can do," Brewer said.

While Brewer has gotten stronger, Modica has become more flexible.

"Coach Heath had me stop lifting weights for about a month last year," Modica said. "I feel good at this weight."

Heath said, "We didn't want him to get too stiff. He's already strong enough to finish plays at the basket."

Modica said Lucas, a former NBA player and coach, "was down to earth and made me feel welcome."

Clint McDaniel, who played guard for Arkansas from 1992-95 and collected a national title ring in 1994, is helping with Heath's camps this summer while working toward his UA degree.

McDaniel's former coach, Nolan Richardson, reportedly has been contacted by Panama's national team to see if he's interested in coaching it.

"Dionisio Gomez (UA, 2000-2003) would have a chance to make that team," Heath said.

Brewer said former Razorback Olu Famutimi told him he had played for both the Toronto Raptors and Utah Jazz summer league teams.

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