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There will be a multitude of the nation's top high school basketball players in Fayetteville this weekend for the Real Deal on the Hill AAU Tournament, but only one who could be the final piece of the 2006 recruiting puzzle for the University of Arkansas basketball program.
That would be Chicago (Ill.) Marshall star Patrick Beverley (6-2, 175), who is not playing in the event, but instead on his official visit and will no doubt have Razorback coaches and fans showing him plenty of love.
He'll be accompanied by his mom Lisa Beverley, a former Arkansas resident who lived in Little Rock and McGehee for a couple of years and still has family in Arkansas she visits during the summers.
"I used to live there as a young girl and loved it and still get back to see family," Mrs. Beverley said. "Patrick hasn't been back since he was a baby, but we both can't wait to get there on Friday, meet everyone and see everything. We're both very excited about our visit."
Beverley, who had 13 points and 6 assists in the Roundball Classic on Sunday, led the Windy City in scoring at 34 points per game, but also grabbed 7 rebounds, dished out six assists and was a lockdown defender on a Marshall team that went 32-3 and finished third in the Class AA state tournament.
That performance has him regarded as the nation's top uncommitted or unsigned senior according to some publications and plenty of interest and phone calls from coaches and recruiting writers.
"There's been a lot of attention paid to Patrick, but we really haven't let it become that big of an issue, " Mrs. Beverley said. "We've felt honored by it and it's been exciting, but I have learned how to say no really well and you can tell who has Patrick's best interest in mind and who doesn't."
She believes Arkansas head coach Stan Heath and Michigan head coach Tommy Amaker are among those with Patrick's best interest in mind.
"The whole thing for Patrick is being able to sit down with the coach and feel comfortable with them and believe them and and know that they are genuine," Mrs. Beverley said. "He wants to have shared goals with them and we believe that Coach Heath is that type of guy and TA is that type of guy."
Beverley, who originally committed to Toledo last summer before opening his recruitment back up, has already visited Michigan.
While St. John's, Cincinnati and others are also trying to land visits, Mrs. Beverley said the trek to Arkansas could be her son's last visit.
"It all depends on what Patrick finds down in Arkansas," Mrs. Beverley said. "If it all goes well and he sees what he needs to and falls in love with it, then it would be the last visit. But if he gets down there and thinks he needs to see more, than he could take another visit. We'll just have to see on that."
Beverley's 13-point, 6-assist effort for the winning West squad in the Roundball Classic in his hometown on Sunday came while playing for Coach Mike Conley, the former Arkansas track star and Olympic Gold Medalist.
Beverley was 6-of-12 from the field in his team's 118-102 win and was on the same team as Ohio State signees Greg Oden (19 points, 11 rebounds) and Mike Conley, Jr. (7 points, 13 assists).
"The game was great and in fact he enjoyed the whole weekend," Mrs. Beverley said. "It was a great honor for him and he got to meet a lot of different people. He got to watch it last year and then play in it this year. All his hard work has paid off."
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...The Real Deal on the Hill will begin Friday at noon with the 12-and-under year old division and will continue through the weekend with 15-and-under, 16-and-under and 17-and-under.
...The UA football program will also be hosting a ton of prospects this Saturday for its second Junior Day.
...Detroit King guard Ramar Smith committed to Tennessee on Monday. Sources indicate that Arkansas pulled out of his recruiting picture earlier in the day.