While many current college stars are trying to lead their team to victory in the NCAA Tournament this weekend, some future ones will be trying to take a step in that direction.
Over 150 of the states top high school boys and girls 2008 and 2009 prospects will be on hand Friday night and Saturday at the All-Star Sports Arena in Springdale for the 11th annual AAO Top 25.
That includes some 80 prep boys prospects, including Little Rock Parkview junior Trey Finn, sophomores Fred Gulley of Fayetteville, Aaron Hawley of Rogers and A.J. Walton of Little Rock Hall and a couple of basketball/football combo standouts in Pulaski Academys Cruz Williams and Atkins Terence Bobo.
Down through the years weve really changed, AAO Top 25 founder and director David Ferrell said. We used to bring in just around 25 or so players, but it got so popular that we have gotten to the point that we invited over 70 to 80 players and have a Top 25 All-Star game at the end of camp."
The event modeled after the Nike All-America Camp - will get underway with games Friday night at 6 p.m. and last through around 10 p.m. They pick back up on Saturday at 11:30 a.m. and go through the all-star games for both the boys and girls at around 4 p.m.
We will have 13 to 15 players on each team and will have very little sitting around because all but two teams will be playing at any one time, Ferrell said. They will get plenty of basketball this weekend.
The event used to be held in July, but was moved up to March and has found a very comfortable niche in that time spot.
We have put it a week after the state finals the last few years and its been very popular in that time period, Ferrell said. The kids are still in a basketball frame of mind and in condition and with the NCAA Tournament going on its been just a great time and atmosphere that come along with it.
It used to be a must-attend event for NCAA Division I coaches, but rule changes have nixed that.
When we first started we were chasing the right time so the Division I coaches to come and be there, but with all the rule changes and restrictions over the last decade, it got to where they couldnt come anyway, Ferrell said. Now no D-I coaches can come unless they have a son or daughter playing. The D-2 coaches and junior college coaches can still come.
Although Morrilton junior superstar Shekinna Strickland is not scheduled to attend, there are a number of local standouts mixed into the array of talent slated to be on hand from around the state for the sixth season in the event for the ladies.
You are always going to have some that cant make it for one reason or the other, but we get most of the best players in the state by having it at this time, Ferrell said. It really has turned into something special.
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