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Chicago (Ill.) Marshall high school head basketball coach Lamont Bryant knew he had a special player and a special team this season before any one else.
Now the rest of the country knows as well and there are many people in this area thinking that special player would look just great in a University of Arkansas.
Patrick Beverley (6-2, 175) - a fast-rising senior and Marshall standout who is leading the Windy City in scoring at 36 points per game - is a prime target of the Razorbacks and Bryant says Arkansas has a great chance to land him.
"Arkansas is a top-notch program with real good people heading it up," Bryant said. "We've broken bread with those guys and I can't say enough good things about them. I think Arkansas has a great chance of getting this done. I've watched four or five of their games this year and I think it would be a great match."
Arkansas will have to fend off challengers in Michigan, St. John's and Virginia to land Beverley, who originally committed to Toledo last summer before deciding to explore his options and who has already put up an NCAA-qualifying SAT score.
"The one thing that is definite is that he will visit Arkansas because we are very high on them," Bryant said. "Then there is St. John's, Virginia and Michigan. We'll just see how it goes. Right now we haven't been concentrating on recruiting, just trying to win basketball games."
Beverley and Marshall (29-2) - who has been ranked in the USA Today Top 25 this season - will try to clinch a state berth tonight when they battle Loyoala in the Super Sectional Final.
The Commandos, who who then need to win three games to take the state title, got to the finals with a convincing 83-66 win over arch rival Crane on Friday night.
Beverley had 20 points, 8 steals and 3 assists in a win in which he was matched up against Kansas signee Sherron Collins, who he got the best of three times this season.
"Patrick doesn't back down from any challenges and he is as good as anybody on the floor anytime he is on it," Bryant said.
Bryant had a game earlier this season in which he hit 9 3-pointers while scoring a career-high 48 points and has been over 40 points during eight games this season.
"He'll get his 30-plus points a game and five or six of those baskets will come because of his defense and how hard he works at it," Bryant said. "He is a very complete player."
Bryant compares his star to a young Gary Payton, who starred at Oregon State before moving on to a stellar NBA career.
"He reminds me of Gary Payton when he was in college and how he was a force on the offensive and defensive ends and plays both very hard," Bryant said. "He is 6-2, very long and slender and plays with great intensity. He is a heady basketball player."
Bryant has done his research on Arkansas, who will be losing at least three perimeter players off this season's NCAA Tournament-bound squad and maybe a fourth if junior Ronnie Brewer declares for the NBA Draft.
"Like I said, I have watched four or five of their games this season and Ronnie Brewer is a fantastic player - one at a whole different level than somebody playing high school basketball right now," Bryant said. "But as far as high school guards, I don't think there is anybody better than Patrick and what all he brings to the table. I think he will fit right in to the mix right away if he ends up there."