The Anderson Quartet

In his weekly recruiting column for Hawgs Illustrated and The Morning News of Northwest Arkansas, Dudley E. Dawson chats with Junction City basketball standout James Anderson (6-6, 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. Click on a banner for details.




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While things obviously didn't turn out well on the football field for the University of Arkansas on Saturday night, those who dropped by Bud Walton Arena to watch the basketball pick-up games earlier in the day probably are feeling pretty good about the school's hoops program.

Fans were able to see newcomers like sweet -shooting Stefan Welsh and Patrick Beverly knocking down a plethora of jumpers, what kind of impact transfer point guard Gary Ervin is likely to have on his squad, improved big man play and the athleticism of Sonny Weems to name a few things.

There was also a bevy of unsigned prep talent as Arkansas hosted Junction City star James Anderson on his official visit and eight other senior, junior and sophomore prospects that Razorback head coach Stan Heath and his staff brought in unofficially for the big weekend.

"I didn't imagine the interest that having Arkansas playing USC in football here would generate from so many coaches and so many players - not just in the state of Arkansas but nationally," UA head coach Stan Heath said. "It's been a great opportunity to have a lot of kids and coaches come up here and spend time with us."

The list of prospects also included UA commit Nate Rakestraw (6-5, 212) and his Har-Ber High teammate Michael Sanchez (6-8, 220), who recently had a surgical procedure and has play for the Wildcats this season and then reclassify to 2008 and go to prep school.

There was also a star-studded collection of 2008 standouts including Fort Worth (Texas) North Crowley junior Willie Warren (6-4, 190), high-scoring Verdigris (Okla.) guard Rotnei Clark (5-11), Maryland prep star Maurice Sutton (6-9, 200) and Little Rock Episcopal Collegiate forward Brandon Moore (6-8, 207).

Even a couple of 2009 star sin Oklahoma City Bishop McGuinness sophomore Daniel Orton (6-10, 220), who led his high school team to a state title as a ninth grader last season, and Fayetteville guard Fred Gulley were in attendance.

"There's nothing quite like getting kids on your campus early and giving them a chance to see all the wonderful things about our program," Heath said. "It's especially big in the situation we are right now."

That situation is limited scholarships for the 2007 class and as many as seven that will be out there for 2008 prospects that are currently juniors in high school.

"We have a tremendous headstart on the 2008 class," Heath said. "We are seeing our effects of getting out and during the summer and now we are heading into the fall with a lot of unofficials."

Heath said that players know that Arkansas will need some impact players in a class that are currently juniors in high school.

"The word is out there that 2008 is a great opportunity for kids to come in and impact a team," Heath said. "That's especially with the loss of so many good frontline players that will be leaving along with point guard."

The first order of business is trying to get Anderson in the fold to join Rakestraw and solidify that 2007 class.

"We are in a great situation because our team has no seniors and the gist of our team is going to be here," Heath said, "so all we have to do know is find a piece or two or three that can make us better.

"I think the one area that we are little bit weak is that wing area and finding a guy that can be highly productive early in his career would really make our team better the following year while at the same time cement our future," Heath said.

Anderson was pleased with his visit, but not ready to make a commitment yet.

"I like the coaches and players and style of play here at Arkansas," Anderson said. "There are a lot of fans who come up and tell me to go to Arkansas and I just tell them I am thinking about it and just thinking about which one I am going to."

He has plans to go ahead and take three planned official visits - to Kansas Oct. 5-7, to Florida on Oct. 12-14 and then to Kansas Oct. 19-21 - before making his decision.

"Everything's looking good for me," Anderson said. "I like all of the coaches and the style of plays at these four schools on my list. Now I will just check out all the schools, prepare and make my decision from there."

o o o

Tidbits:

...Dardanelle junior offensive lineman Matt Hall (6-10, 320) became the Razorbacks' first verbal pledge of the 2008 class when he committed to the Arkansas coaches after the USC game on Saturday night.

... Four 2007 prospects took their official visits to Arkansas this weekend in Bixby (Okla.) defensive end Jared Glover (6-5, 220); the Harrisonville (Mo.) duo of defensive end Michael Keck and safety Steven Collins (6-1, 180, 4.5) and Oklahoma City Millwood wideout Tremain Swindell (6-2, 180, 4.4).

...Other top uncommitted players who took unofficial visits were Rogers offensive lineman Lee Ziemba (6-7, 295), Fort Smith Northside quarterback Kodi Burns (6-2, 190) and offensive lineman Paul Henry (6-5, 265), CAC tight end Davis Williams (6-3, 245), Pulaski Academy running back Broderick Green (6-1, 235, 4.57), Osceola wideout Cam Baker (5-11, 170, 4.3), Marion defender Jerry Franklin (6-3, 195) and running back Darcel Johnson 5-11, 210), Bixby wideout-safety Chris Harris (5-11, 184), Florida prep running back Rudell Crim (5-11, 194, 4.38) and Shiloh Christian quarterback Matt Simpson (6-1, 205).

...The Razorbacks also had a ton of their committed players on hand in Springdale kicker Alex Tejeda (5-10, 170), Shiloh Christian wideout Crosby Tuck (6-1, 185), Little Rock Catholic's Jake Bequette (6-5, 240), Morrilton linebacker Freddie Burton (6-3, 195, 4.4); Jonesboro offensive lineman Grant Cook (6-5, 305), Jenks (Okla.) defender Tim Dial (6-3, 220), Harrison offensive lineman Wade Grayson (6-4, 260), Monticello offensive lineman Seth Oxner (6-5, 290).

...There was also 2008 prospect Cruz Williams (6-4, 195, 4.4), a wideout from Pulaski Academy, and a pair of Independence (Kan.) Community College prospects in defensive end Kevin Hubbard (6-3, 235) and cornerback Allen Bell (6-1, 194, 4.4)




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