Hoop Stars

In his weekly recruiting column for Hawgs Illustrated and The Morning News of Northwest Arkansas, Dudley E. Dawson catches readers up on what's happening with Razorback basketball.

As some University of Arkansas fans begin to hurt themselves by leaping face forward off the football team's bandwagon, they will no doubt begin to focus more on what's happening right now with the basketball one.

The Razorback basketball staff - who already has commitments from former Arkansas-turn-Texas prep star Michael Washington (6-10, 230) and Hargrave Military Academy guard Stefan Welsh (6-3, 180) - is knee deep in recruiting for the week-long early signing period that opens on Wednesday, Nov. 1.

They spent Monday night in the home of Bolivar (Tenn.) Central point guard Willie Kemp (6-3, 180) and will be in Fort Smith today visiting with former West Memphis star and current UA-Fort Smith standout Sonny Weems (6-6, 200).

Pretty soon they will be in the home of Memphis Mitchell prep star Thaddeus Young (6-8, 200), have already visited Hargrave Military Academy forward Tyler Smith (6-6, 210) and are also involved with College of Southern Idaho small forward Travis Gabbidon (6-7, 200).

"We really feel like we are ahead of the curve when it comes to the home visits," Heath said. "Most of our recruits we have had on campus and have great relationships already established. Now we'll just try to go in and put our best foot forward and just talk about the virtues of our university and our basketball program."

Kemp - who has now been to Fayetteville - has now visited Tennessee, Arkansas and Memphis with one more trip to Kentucky left before he makes a decision.

Memphis pulled out all the stops by bringing Kemp in on the same weekend as head coach John Calipari's Coaching Clinic that had NBA guys such as Larry Brown, Isiah Thomas, Mike Fratello and Terry Porter to name a few.

"That was pretty cool being around some of those guys," Kemp said. "Overall the weekend was all right. I am still wide open. I really still don't have a favorite yet. I am just going to take the visit to Kentucky and then come back and think it over."

His trek to nearby Memphis came just a week after his official visit to Arkansas and two week after the trip to Tennessee.

"I had a great time (at Arkansas)," Kemp said. "There are such good people in Fayetteville and I enjoy going up there every time I have been there. Visiting with the guys was great and crowd at the football game was great."

He'll make the jaunt to Lexington this weekend and then will be happy to sit down and finally make a decision.

"It's getting a little bit tiring," Kemp said. "I just need to get this over with and make a call, but I really don't have any idea where it will be right now."

o o o

Weems has been on a run of official visits to Tennessee, Arkansas and Oklahoma State in the past three weeks with an official visit slated for Baylor next weekend and then one to Oklahoma to close out the process.

He moved the one from Oklahoma State up a couple of weekends to go this past weekend.

"I really enjoyed it over there," Weems said. "The fans are crazy and I like the players and being around Coach Sutton."

That was a week after his visit to Arkansas while Memphis - where he took an unofficial visit - is also still in the process.

"My visit to Arkansas really helped me out a lot," Weems said. "It went a lot better than I thought and certainly is somewhere I could see myself playing."

o o o

Young, who took an unofficial visit to Arkansas on Sept. 3-4, has now been officially to Georgia Tech, and North Carolina, will be at Kentucky with Kemp this weekend. He will then finish up by going to Arkansas and then maybe to either Tennessee or Memphis.

"I've still got at least two more visits to go (to Kentucky and Arkansas)," Young told Jeff Goodman of Scouthoops.com. "I've got to see how everything plays out at the end, but I really enjoyed my first two visits to Georgia Tech and North Carolina."

o o o

Washington and Welsh are both due in with Young during the opening weekend of Arkansas' basketball practice on Oct. 14-16.

There will be no traditional Midnight Madness as usual on that Friday night with Arkansas opting instead to have an open practice at 7 p.m.

The usual fanfare at Midnight Madness will instead be moved to the Red-White game on Saturday, Oct. 29 at 4:05 p.m.

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