SPRINGDALE - Now almost a month removed from a bitter loss to end his high school season, Springdale Har-Ber High junior shooting guard Nate Rakestraw is finally back to enjoying basketball again.
The 6-4 pure shooter did so this weekend at the AAO Top 25, being selected for the all-star game and wowing on-lookers with a thunderous dunk over a defender in traffic.
"That was the highlight of this weekend for me," Rakestraw said. "A lot of people are surprised that I am able to do that. I didn't shoot the ball like I wanted to - I'm hard on myself about that - but it was fun to get it back going again."
In addition to the AAO games this weekend, Rakestraw - who has an conditional offer to walk on at the University of Arkansas for the 2007-2008 season and then go on scholarship the following year - also had three practices with his Arkansas Hawks AAU team.
Rakestraw, who hit four 3-pointers in the Wildcats' loss to rallying Pine Bluff in the Class AAAAA state tournament, will join fellow Har-Ber junior Michael Sanchez, Fort Smith Northside's Kodi Burns, Little Rock Christian's Gaby Ngoundjo and Marianna's Anthony Allison and Channin Hardin among others playing for the Hawks this season.
We should be really good," Rakestraw said. "We have got solid people at every position, got height, got shooters, got guys who can penetrate, people can jump. It should mesh really well. We have been just trying to all get on the same page this weekend."
They are scheduled to open the AAU season in Memphis early in April, play in the Real Deal on the Hill in Fayetteville on April 14-16 and also play in tournaments in North Carolina, Maryland, New Jersey and Las Vegas to name a few.
In addition to Arkansas, Rakestraw is also getting interest from Stanford, UALR, ORU, Tulsa, Marquette, TCU and Missouri Valley teams Missouri State and Wichita State, who has made the Sweet 16.
The Razorbacks' conditional offer is the only one on the table so far for Rakestraw, who went to Dallas on friday along with Sanchez to watch Arkansas play in the NCAA Tournament.
"All the tournaments that we are going to are big-time and not only will they help us develop our games with the competition, but allow all the college coaches to see what we can do against high-level players," Rakestraw said. "I am going to be working on my foot speed and my defense and continue to try and work on my jump shot."
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