SEC's Best Class

In his weekly recruiting column for Hawgs Illustrated and The Morning News of Northwest Arkansas, Dudley E. Dawson has recruiting analyst Dave Telep size up what he has ranked as the best recruiting class in the SEC right now. This story is sponsored by the Arkansas Toyota Dealers. It's free and so is a special offer to attend a Razorback event on the Arkansas Toyota Dealers website.

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MEMPHIS -- When the Arkansas State logo went up alongside the ones for Georgia Tech and Kentucky on the big video screen, it should have been very clear right then that Memphis prep basketball star Thaddeus Young was not coming to Arkansas.

Heck, I could have brought a Razorback one here with me if someone had just given me the heads up.

Young -- one of the nation's top high school players -- took to the stage soon after 10 a.m. at the Memphis Mitchell High School auditorium and announced the sweepstakes winner was Georgia Tech.

Young (6-8, 210) is a gifted player, one that would be jumping straight to the NBA if the new NBA collective bargaining agreement didn't keep that from happening these days until you are out of high school for a year.

But he will head to Georgia Tech for at least a year.

"It was just the best overall situation for me," Young said after his press conference. "I looked at the academics, the players coming in and the number of players there would be at my position. In the end, Georgia Tech was the best option of those last three."

Young said he made the decision last Wednesday and only five people -- his dad, mom, brother, cousin and himself -- knew before the Monday morning extravaganza at Mitchell High.

"Arkansas did a great job recruiting me and I really like the coaches and the facilities as I did at Kentucky," Young said. "But in the end, I just thought Georgia Tech was the best place for me.

While he is off to Georgia Tech, the hard feelings in Memphis won't die down for a while.

He is the best basketball player this city has produced since the likes of Anfernee Hardaway and Todd Day.

For him not to be a Memphis State Tiger -- and yes I know they go by the University of Memphis now -- is an unforgivable sin to that school's fans.

In fact, many -- and his former AAU coach was a leader in this -- had taken to the radio and message boards last week trying to spread allegations that both Arkansas and Georgia Tech had done some illegal things.

This was -- in their minds -- obviously the only way he would leave Memphis and the program currently headed by John Calipari.

"Coach Cal did a great job recruiting me, but they are already loaded at my spot and have a lot of great players coming in," Young said. "They would have had 3 or 4 players at that spot."

Arkansas would have loved to have added Young to its early recruiting haul that already includes Genesis One power forward Michael Washington (6-10, 230), Hargrave Military Academy guard Stefan Welsh (6-3, 180) and UA-Fort Smith's Sonny Weems (6-6, 200), the nation's top junior college player.

They will sign those three on November 9 and add them to a couple of other newcomers in Mississippi State transfer point guard Gary Ervin (5-11, 180) and Monterey Peninsula junior college guard Ryan McBride (6-5, 190).

"With or without Thaddeus Young, that's a big-time class they've already got committed," noted Dave Telep,'s national basketball recruiting analyst.

Telep has Arkansas at No. 12 in his national rankings and with the best class in the SEC right now.

"You start with Gary Ervin, who is a big-time SEC point guard and one of my favorite players," Telep said. "You have to count him with that class and he's coming with that loud New York persona to lead the young ones. And he's going to have a ton of players coming with him that can put the ball in the whole. Everyone of those guys coming in can fill it up."

Weems, who averaged 17 points and 5 rebounds per game and opens his season this week, was the latest addition. The former West Memphis star is ranked as the top junior college player in one recruiting service and a consensus top five player nationally in others.

"If you are one of the top five junior college players in America, you are a stud and will walk in and start at Arkansas and have an immediate impact as you are supposed to when you are a juco transfer," Telep said. "He's big-time."

Telep has seen plenty of Welsh -- a combo guard and a former Virginia prep star -- over the years.

"He is an exceptional athlete and really excels in the open court," Telep said. "He can score from anywhere and is a really aggressive guy on both the offensive and defensive ends."

Washington is a power guy with some small forward skills.

"I think he is going to come in and get stronger and be a monster at Arkansas," Telep said. "He is big and will come in and put on some weight and really make an impact as well."

Arkansas will also now look to add either Hargrave small forward Tyler Smith (6-6, 210) -- a former Tennessee signee -- or small forward Tyler Gabbidon (6-7, 205) of the College of Southern Idaho.

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