There's nothing like tuning up in the Bluff City for the Real Deal on the Hill.
That's what Har-Ber standout Michael Sanchez (6-8, 220) and his fellow Arkansas Hawks teammates did this past weekend in a Memphis tournament that prepared them for this weekend's Real Deal on the Hill in Fayetteville.
The Hawks won three of their four games – two by over 50 points each – and Sanchez averaged a double-double in the quartet of games, including 29 points and 10 rebounds in the opener of his AAU campaign.
"I thought we really played well, played as a team and it was really a measuring stick as far as us getting ready for the Real Deal on the Hill," Sanchez said. "I thought I played pretty well and I'm just ready to play against some great competition, great teams and great players this weekend."
Sanchez, who was offered a scholarship by Arkansas before his sophomore season, now has eight offers under his while Kansas, national champ Florida and Oklahoma State are among others showing interest.
"I am just kind of taking it all in stride," Sanchez said. "I am honored that some of the top coaches in the country think that I am good enough to play for them. I know there are some people who don't think I am, but I don't really worry about them. I only worry about what the coaches that are offering the scholarships think."
Sanchez is looking forward to playing in Bud Walton Arena, where he got to play just one game last year while switching from the Hawks' 17-and-under to 16-and-under squad.
"I love playing there and I really looking forward to it, especially since I only got to play one game there last season during the Real Deal," Sanchez said. "I think we are geing to get to play a lot more games there this season and that's got me pumped up."
The Hawks, hosting the event and playing in Pool C, will in fact have all three of their pool games played in Bud Walton Arena, which will be the venue of majority of the 17-and-under division games.
They will open action against Minnesota's 43 Hoops at 9:20 p.m. on Friday night, then battle St. Louis (Mo.) Northside at 9:20 a.m. on Saturday morning before finishing pool play Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m. against the Tulsa Bulldogs, a team he had 24 points and 21 rebounds against last year in his team's final Real Deal contest.
The championship and consolation brackets will then get underway late Saturday afternoon with the championships of the event slated for early Sunday afternoon.
"It's really easy for myself and our team to get fired up to play against great competition," Sanchez said. "I think we have a lot of great players that really play well as a team. We got great inside and outside games."
Joining Sanchez on the Hawks' is his Har-Ber prep teammate Nate Rakestraw, a 6-5 shooting guard who had six three-pointers in a Sunday morning tournament game in Memphis.
There's also 6-7 center Tim Johnson, the former Little Rock Central star who is now attending prep school; 6-7, 235-pound power forward Gaby Tgoundjo, Marianna guards Channin Hardin and Anthony Allison and Har-Ber senior guard Aaron McHenry.
That group had advanced to the semifinals of the Memphis tournament, but chose to leave early when they would have had to wait around all day Sunday to play their next game after playing early Sunday morning.
The tournament had gotten off schedule when all the Friday games were canceled due to the threat of inclement weather.
"It was still a good weekend in that we were able to get used to each other and learn our roles and how we played together," Sanchez said. "Now we will be ready to go when the Real Deal gets started instead of just having practiced and not playing anybody. I am really looking forward to it."
The Real Sanchez
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