One of the quickest ways to be labeled a great coach is to go out and get some great players and then help them achieve greatness.
Arkansas head basketball coach Stan Heath and his staff are acutely aware of this and that's why a quartet of talented prospects will have been in and out of Fayetteville by the end of this weekend.
Two very good ones -- Memphis Mitchell senior forward Thaddeus Young (6-8, 210) and Junction City junior guard James Anderson (6-5, 190) were at Arkansas this past weekend on unofficial visits.
Two more -- former West Memphis and current UA-Fort Smith juco standout Sonny Weems (6-6, 200) and Bolivar (Tenn.) Central point guard Willie Kemp (6-3, 180) are due in this Friday through Sunday on official visits.
"The best way you can get make an informed decision is to research all your options, make some visits and then add all of it up and hope you choose the best situation," notes Felton Young, Thaddeus' dad and a former NBA player. "That's what we are in the process of doing. We are very impressed with the coaches and what they have going on here at Arkansas."
Young, rated as the second-best small forward and the seventh-best player in the 2006 class by Scout. com, has now been to Arkansas on unofficial visits three different times -- including to last season's Midnight Madness along with Kemp and Weems.
He'll be back to Fayetteville for his official visit on Oct. 14-16 for this year's Midnight Madness -- slated to begin around 7 p.m. -- along with UA guard commit Stefan Welsh (6-3, 180) of Hargrave Military Academy.
"What has me looking hard at Arkansas is the coaches, the players they have and the ones they are going to get," Thaddeus Young said. "I think they have a great basketball situation here, but I am also very impressed with the academic opportunities available for me here. All the schools I am looking at have good business programs."
His return to Arkansas will come after taking official visits to Georgia Tech this weekend, Kentucky (Sept. 16-18) and North Carolina (Sept. 23-25) and before unofficial visits to Tennessee and Memphis that will happen before the end of the month.
"Everybody has been showing me great hospitality and it's going to be tough to get it down to that one school," Thaddeus Young said. "I am looking at them as all even and the same right now and keeping an open mind as I go into the end of this process."
Felton Young says his son -- who is also an outstanding student -- plans to have a commitment in place by Nov. 1 to one of the six schools he is still considering and that he has ruled out either going to a prep school or playing in the NBDL one year.
"We want to have everything taken care of by November 1 because I don't want him going into the season and thinking about what he is going to do," Mr. Young said. "We have plenty of time to take care of it before the season starts."
Young would have likely been a player that would have went in the NBA lottery if not for the league's recent rule that says you must be out of high school for a year before entering the draft.
"We are looking at him coming in and playing four years and graduating first," Felton Young said. "But if the opportunity presents itself and the time is ready -- whether it be after one year or two year -- then we will sit down and talk about it. But we have no preconceived notions about how that will happen."
Anderson -- who along with Har-Ber High's Michael Sanchez (6-8, 210) and North Little Rock's Anthony Randolph (6-10, 185) head up the 2007 class in Arkansas -- got his offer from the Razorbacks a few weeks ago and says it made him feel very honored.
"I thought it was very nice and I was happy to get it," Anderson said. "I really like Arkansas."
He is also getting mail from Illinois, Virginia, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Arizona, Ole Miss, Louisiana Tech after a sophomore season where he averaged 36 points and 12 rebounds last season.
Anderson is currently rehabbing an ankle injury that cut short his AAU season.
"I came down on the side of it," Anderson said. "I am conditioning now to get it back right."
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