Rumble on the Ridge

In his weekly recruiting column, Dudley E. Dawson gives a run down on the players and field for this year's Rumble on the Ridge basketball tournament in Forrest City on Nov. 23-25. 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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The University of Arkansas-LSU football game at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock isn't the only thing inside the state's borders on the post-Thanksgiving sports buffet.

Just down I-30, the 10th annual Rumble on the Ridge will once again happen in Forrest City.

Greg Monroe, a 6-10, 226-pound combo forward and Scout.com's top-ranked junior in the country and someone who has interest in the University of Arkansas, headlines the standouts at the event in Forrest City on Nov. 23-25.

Odds are he will follow Boston's Al Jefferson, Milwaukee's Mo Williams, Golden State's Montae Ellis and Indiana's Jonathon Bender as recent Rumble alumni who went on to the NBA.

"We've come from some humble beginnings and overcome a burned down gym where we had to move to Wynne for a couple of years, but we have survived and flourished," Rumble of the Ridge director Bill Baxter said. "We have what we think is the best tournament in the country and a big part of that is the support we get from the city of Forrest City and really all of Northeast Arkansas."

Monroe heads a list of outstanding big men in the event, one that will also feature 6-10, 260-pound Columbus (Miss.) New Hope junior and UA target Rashanti Harris and the Madison Central (Miss.) duo of 6-8 senior Malcolm Kirkland and 6-10 junior Jacolby Pittman.

Harris, by the way, joins Har-Ber's Nate Rakestraw and Michael Sanchez and Junction City's James Anderson as the top talents on display in Arkansas during the Holiday Hoops Tournament Dec. 7-9 at Bud Walton Arena.

But first there is the Rumble- featuring four in-state teams, three Louisiana ones and a Mississippi power - gets underway Thanksgiving Day at 3:30 with Green County Tech taking on Peabody (La.).

That battle will be followed by Baton Rouge (La.) Christian Life Academy meeting Madison Central (Miss.) at 5 p.m., host Forrest City and Columbus (Miss.) New Hope tangling at 6:30 and Jonesboro then taking on Monroe and his Harvey (La.) Helen Cox squad in the opening round's finale at 8 p.m.

Action will continue at the same times the following two days with the championship game set for Saturday at 8 p.m.

"We have always had packed stands and a lot of interest and I'm thinking this year is going to be no different," Baxter said. "We have a lot of great memories of guys that are playing in the NBA now, guys that are playing in college right now like (North Carolina's) Tyler Hansbrough and some great teams."

Forrest City is led by a trio of stars in 6-2 guards Marcus Britt and Stefon Weaver and 6-6 wing Kelson Stewart.

Jonesboro features LaDustin Williams, Jeremy Thomas and Delta Cleary and joins Forrest City as legitimate candidates to win a state title this season.

As are the three Louisiana schools in their state and Madison Central in Mississippi.

"I'm told that Madison Central may be the best of the bunch, but that it is a very even field and anybody could come out of this thing a winner and you may be a great team and come out with a losing record," Baxter said. "The field is just really strong and Forrest City and Jonesboro are just about as good as it gets anywhere so they are going to have a great shot at it as well."

Arkansas is just one of a plethora of schools hoping to land Monroe, who averaged 17 points, 11.8 rebounds and 7 blocks shots last season for his high school squad and is likely to just play a year or two of college before heading for the NBA.

Dave Telep, Scout.com's national recruiting director, has Monroe as the top-ranked junior based on his current play and his potential.

"Monroe is the future, the guy who has the talent, ability and upside with room to grow," Telep said. "He went from prospect to player this past summer and enjoyed every minute of it."

The Razorbacks have an in with Monroe with new UA assistant Glynn Cyprien, a Louisiana native.

"I know about Ronnie Brewer and love the fact that they have just put somebody in the NBA," Monroe said this summer. "I also know they just hired Coach Cyprien from New Orleans and I have a great relationship with him since he used to be around AAU ball in the city a lot. He's cool. I know a lot about their program. I have followed them a lot since they are in the SEC."

Arkansas joins LSU, Duke, Kentucky, Kansas, Texas, Louisville, Mississippi State and Baylor as some of the schools on Monroe's early radar.

"There's so many of them right now and it's very early for me, but I am definitely going to give Arkansas a hard look," Monroe said.



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