Commando & Crusader

In his weekly recruiting column for Hawgs Illustrated and The Morning News of Northwest Arkansas, Dudley E. Dawson writes about Arkansas' interest in Chicago's Patrick Beverley (6-2, 175) and Detroit's Ramar Smith (6-3, 190). 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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With one scholarship left for its 2006 recruiting class, the University of Arkansas is intent on filling it with a perimeter shooter during the April 12-May 15 spring signing period.

Certainly Chicago Marshall's Patrick Beverley (6-2, 175) and Detroit King's Ramar Smith (6-3, 190) - who is scheduled to be here today on an official visit - fit that bill and both have showed this season that they can knock it down.

While Smith has been regarded as one of the best players in the country for a while, Beverley has certainly out of seemingly nowhere to make a name for himself.

That happens when you are leading the Chicago Public League in scoring at 36 points per game, grabbing seven rebounds, dishing out six assists and picking up five steals er game all while leading your team to a 25-1 mark.

"I think our team has really come together this year, we've played well and we've knocked down shots," Beverley said. "I have had a great year individually, but our team is not a one-man team."

Beverley knocked down 9 3-pointers while scoring a career-high 48 points in a win last week and has gone over 40 points in seven different games this season.

Beverley, who says he has a final three of Arkansas, Michigan and St. John's after eliminating Indiana last week, had 25 points in the third quarter of his big outburst last week.

Beverley had 21 points on Sunday as his team downed Carver 75-69 in the CPL quarterfinals and moved the Commandoes into a semifinal round game Wednesday night against Washington on the campus of DePaul.

"I have only been playing high school ball for one full season before going into my senior year and my game has just really come together," Beverley said. "I would say my strengths are my ability to shoot the ball, my ability to get my own shot, my quickness and my jumping ability. I am really just now learning how to understand the game completely and I have just put it all together this season."

Beverley has played in front of Arkansas head coach Stan Heath this season and is very interested in the Razorbacks.

"He seems like a great guy and they have a great tradition and seem like they are ready to get back where they used to be," Beverley said. "For him to hop on a jet and fly up here to see me says a lot about how much they want me and they have made that clear."

Beverley has studied up on the players with Chicago connections who have either ended up at Arkansas or were planning to do so.

"I know Jannero Pargo and he was a guy who came from here, went to Arkansas and got on to the NBA from there," Beverley said. "I also know Andre Iguadola signed there, but decided to back out when Coach (Nolan) Richardson. Also Scotty Pippen is from Arkansas and although he didn't play for them because he wasn;t good enough yet he went on to have a pretty good career up here. Maybe I'll be the next Chicago guy to go down there and succeed."

Beverley has been selected to play in the Roundball Classic at Chicago's United Center on April 9 at 3 p.m., an all-star game that will be televised nationally by CSTV.

He will be on the West team - coached by former UA track star Mike Conley - along with Ohio State signees Greg Oden and Michael Conley, Jr.

Patrick Beverley

Patrick Beverley

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Smith was in Fayetteville for the Real Deal on the Hill AAU Tournament.

"I'm really looking forward to coming back down there," said Smith, whose previous trip to Fayetteville was for the Real Deal on the Hill AAU Tournament last spring. "I like Arkansas, I like the style they play, the coaches, the arena and the whole area. They have showed a lot of interest in me and stayed on me and that's important to me."

Smith, who originally committed to UConn last summer before they parted ways back in September, is averaging 23.6 points per game this season for a King team that is 14-5.

He is also looking at Tennessee, Arizona and Illinois, but has not taken or scheduled any visits to those schools yet.

"I am going to get down and see Arkansas and then we'll see from there about visiting other schools and when I might do that," Smith said Sunday night. "I thought it was nice down there last time and I am looking forward to seeing a game there."

Smith, who has had 10 rebounds and/or 8 assists in a game on at least three different times this season, believes he will play more of the point in college than the off guard.

"I really believe I will play more at the one, but I guess it all depends on what my college team needs me to do," Smith said. "In this last game I really tried to find my teammates and get the ball to them and just take the shots that came to me instead of forcing it."

Smith had a game-high 22 points on Friday night while leading his team to a 63-61 win over Southeastern in the Detroit Public School League consolation game and the Crusaders don't start state tournament play until next week.

"We really played well as a team in our last game and I thought I played pretty good individually," Smith said. "I think if we play like we did in our last game we can make a run a the state title."

Ramar Smith

Ramar Smith

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