Gold Ball

In his weekly recruiting column, Dudley E, Dawson catches up with UA basketball commit Jenirro Bush, who led his team to a state title last weekend. 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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On the same weekend that the University of Arkansas punched its ticket to the Big Dance, a future Razorback and his squad grabbed the Gold Ball.

UA commit and Mississippi prep star Jenirro Bush (6-7, 175) had a sparking all-around effort – 19 points, 10 rebounds, 6 steals, 5 assists and 4 blocks - while leading his East Oktibbeha squad past Myrtle 77-69 for Class 1A state title Friday night in Jackson.

Thus, the Titans (33-4) were rewarded with the Gold Ball trophy – given to all state champions and a bid in the new Mississippi overall Tournament of Champions this week in Tupelo.

"It's such a great feeling, especially when we got so close last season and then losr right before the championship game," said Bush, whose team trailed 39-35 at halftime. "We came out in the second half and played together and ended up accomplishing our goal."

Bush, who averaged just under 30 points this season and has the versatility to play the 1,2 and 3 in college, was doubled team a lot throughout his team's post-season run.

"That's okay because I was just able to get my teammates the ball in positions to score," Bush said. Sometimes I would just go over in the corner and two people would just go with me instead of guarding their guy and we would just get an easy basket."

Bush did not get a chance to see the Razorbacks play any this weekend, but loved what he heard and read about their effort.

"I just knew they were going to get it together this weekend and get into the NCAA Tournament and that is exactly what they did," Bush said. "To think we have all those guys coming back next season and a couple of other guys to help out, man, we are going to be so good next season."

Bush was aware of the speculation on Arkansas head coach Stan Heath's job status if the Razorbacks didn't make it into the NCAA.

"But I haven't worried too much about that because I just knew they were going to make a run and get it like they did last year," Bush said. "I am real happy for them. I am coming to play for Coach Heath next season and just help out as much as I can."

Bush was getting some grief on Saturday from some of his friends who are Mississippi State fans.

"They were calling me during the game while we were on our way back talking about how your boys are getting beat," Bush said. "I told them just wait, you'll see. That's just what happened and they won so I had to call them all back and let them have it."

Bush, who chose Arkansas over Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Oklahoma among others, will lead his team into a game Thursday against Classs 2A champ Scott Central in what is being dubbed as the "Grand Slam."

"We've already beat them one time this season and beat them in a tournament in December," Bush said. "The team I would really like to play is (Jackson) Lanier."

O o o


…UA signee Nate Rakestraw had 24 points and Michael Sanchez 16 but Springdale Har-Ber fell 54-47 to Fort Smith Northside Saturday in the Class 7A championship game in Hot Springs.

It was the first time in three tries that the Grizzlies beat the Wildcats and also the only time they lost to an in-state team this season with both Rakestraw and Sanchez in the lineup.

…UA 2008 prospect Rotnei Clarke of Verdigris (Okla.) had a career-high 60 points in a state tournament win on Thursday, but his team came up short in Friday's Class 3A semifinal.

He had 32 points as his team fell to Oklahoma City Millwood 58-53.

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