The city of Chicago has been very good to the University of Arkansas basketball program over the years and once again the Razorbacks are trying to mine that talent base.
In fact, the UA would love for Washington junior guard/small forward DeAndre Liggins (6-6, 190) to join the line of Windy City prep stars that became Razorbacks like former NBA player Darrell Walker, current NBA player Jannero Pargo and current Arkansas star Patrick Beverley.
Liggins, whose nickname is "The Ticket" and who is considered the top 2008 prospect in Illinois, took an unofficial visit to see the Razorbacks play Kentucky in February at Bud Walton Arena and will be back in Fayetteville with his Indiana Elite AAU team for the Real Deal on the Hill on April 6-8.
"Really my two favorites right now are Arkansas and Memphis," Liggins said. "They both get up and down the court, will play guys early in their career if they earn it. I got to see Arkansas' game with Kentucky and was impressed with everything."
One of the big reasons that Arkansas is at the top of the list for the versatile Liggins, who averaged 14 points, 10 assists, 8 rebounds, 5 steals and 2 charges taken for his 24-6 team this season, is because of his relationship with Razorback assistant Glynn Cyprien.
"I really like Coach Cyp and think he is a good guy," Liggins said. "I like the lifestyle down there and the atmosphere is great. I think they were a good team this season and got it going at the end of the season."
Obviously he knows of Beverley, who was on the court when the current SEC freshman of the year finished up his high school career last year at Marshall High.
"I love the way Patrick Beverley plays," Liggins said. "We actually knocked his team out of the state tournament last season. He's a good guy and a great player."
Illinois, Purdue , Iowa and Georgia Tech are also teams on the list for Liggins, who often plays point guard for his team.
"Those six teams are really the main ones I am looking at right now, but I am in no hurry to make a decision," Liggins said.
It's no secret that the city of Chicago puts out a plethora of Division I prospects each season.
"We have a lot of talent in Chicago and if you want to be a star, you have to come to play every night and get better every day," Liggins said. "You can't take a night off in Chicago or somebody will embarrass you."
There are several recruiting experts who compare Liggins to former Arkansas native and Chicago Bulls star Scottie Pippen.
Pippen was always described as a point forward, someone able to initiate the offense without taking a shot, but also able to score when the situation calls for it.
"I like to get my team involved before I starting looking for my shot," Liggins said. "I can always get mine later, but I want the reputation that I have as a player to be one of a team guy and not somebody who goes out trying to do his own thing and grab all the glory."
Liggins is certainly aware of Pippen, named one of the NBA's Top 50 players, but it's a current Los Angeles Clipper that he compares his game to right now.
"I think my game is similar to Shaun Livingston," Liggins said. "I am a big guard that can do a lot of things, one that doesn't have to score to take over a game. I really take a lot of pride in being an all-around player."
His junior season came to a close with a loss to Harvey Thornton High School in the second round of the sectional – a step before the Illinois state tournament.
Liggins, who was an all-Chicago first-team pick and a second-team all-state selection, had 14 points, 10 assists and 7 rebounds in the 56-52 loss.
"I think that was the best game I have ever played," Liggins said. "I got my team involved, I passed the ball well, I shot it well and I played under control. But the thing was to win and we came up short."
Liggins likes to think of himself as a student of the game and that's why he will be taking in all the NCAA Tournament and NBA games on television.
"I am going to watch all the games I can," Liggins said. "I watch all the ball I can, whether it is college basketball or NBA. You can always see something that can make you a better player, plus I just enjoy watching the competition."
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