Rakestraw soon to be a Razorback

Springdale Har-Ber shooting guard Nate Rakestraw will sign with Arkansas this afternoon as the week-long early signing period while Razorback head coach Stan Heath lays out his plans for 2007 and 2008

The University of Arkansas men's program will add at least one top notch shooter today as the week-long November early signing period opens while the Lady Razorbacks will pick up a Fab Five.

The Razorbacks signee is Springdale Har-Ber standout Nate Rakestraw, a 6-5, 212-pound shooting guard who committed to the Razorbacks during the summer and has remained steadfast in that pledge.

He will make that official in a 3:30 p.m. signing event at Har-Ber on the period's first day.

"I'm real excited about it," Rakestraw said. "This is what I have worked my while life for and I am really looking forward to it. We'll have the signing at 3:30 and have a reception afterwards and just kind of make a special day out of it all. I can't wait to officially be a Razorback."

The Razorbacks have a second scholarship available to use and have expressed interest in 6-8, 200-pound small forward Jeff Brooks of Louisville (KY) Doss – a player that visited Arkansas Oct. 13-15.

As of Tuesday night, Brooks was still trying to decide between the Razorbacks, Penn State or possibly signing during the spring.

Arkansas invested a lot of recruiting effort into Junction City star James Anderson (6-6, 190), but he will sign with either Oklahoma State or Kansas today.

Also thought to be in the mix as possible spring signees are 6-6, 190-pound small forward Jason Henry of Decatur (Ga.) Light of the World prep school and Har-Ber High forward Michael Sanchez (6-8, 220), who will decide in January or so whether he will be a 2007 or 2008 prospect.

It's also known that Arkansas staff is contemplating saving the last scholarship for someone in the spring that is not presently on the radar, much like they did with current Razorback guard Patrick Beverley.

Beverley blew up after the early signing period last November and would end up leading the city of Chicago in scoring.

"I really feel as if we have the luxury of picking and choosing the best fit for us and the direction we want to go," Arkansas head coach Stan Heath said, "whether it is signing another player here early or waiting until the second signing period to see what else is available - a transfer, a Patrick Beverley-type that comes on during the season. So we have several options and we feel really good about it. The way my staff works I feel comfortable that we will feel our needs."

Heath is calmer about that than one might expect because he does not have a single senior on his roster this season.

"I like the position that we are in right now," Heath said. "We have no seniors on our roster, we have our team appearing to all be intact for next season. It allows you to freedom to only do what is best for your program instead of having to reach for something just to fill a number and have a body around."

What Arkansas ends up doing with the other 2007 scholarship will no doubt have a big effect on what happens in 2008.

That will already be a huge year for Arkansas' program seeing as how the Razorbacks currently have seven juniors on their team this season.

"In 2008, there is more pressure or more urgency to hit that class harder than in 2007," Heath said. "We have several needs, we need impact guys and we expect to sign guys that are SEC ready. Our staff has really done a lot of work doing the early prep necessary to put a big strong push into that 2008 clash."

To keep from having another year when he would have to replace seven, Heath is not planning on signing seven newcomers in 2008.

"We are looking at seven, but I don't anticipate us using all seven," Heath said. "I see us using more like five, but we'll see how things turn out."

Arkansas fans will see Heath and his staff go strong for the big men with the plan now for at least one of those to come from the junior college ranks.

"Our urgent needs will be on the frontline, at the point guard position and probably adding additional perimeter play" Heath said. "We would definitely like to sign a junior college big man."

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The Lady Razorbacks are expected to sign a banner class with three of those coming from in-state.

The Arkansas standouts signing are 6-2 Central Arkansas Christian center Whitney Zachariason, 5-6 Fort Smith Northside point guard Shanita Arnold and 5-11 forward Brittany Richardson of Mountain Home.

They are also expected to ink 6-0 guard/forward Morgan Boyd of Olathe (Kan.) East and 6-2 forward Ashley Williams of Springfield (Mo.) Hillcrest.


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