Sanchez Weighing All His Options

In his weekly recruting column, Dudley E. Dawson chats with Springdale Har-Ber forward Michael Sanchez, who is the unique position of being recruited by both Arkansas and Texas A&M head coach Billy Gillispie. 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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FAYETTEVILLE -- Perhaps the young man with the most interest in the ever-changing world of college basketball coaches right now is Michael Sanchez.

Sanchez (6-foot-8, 220 pounds), the outstanding prep power forward from Springdale Har-Ber High, has scholarship offers from Arkansas, Texas A&M, Michigan and Tennessee on the table right now.

He's also got an opportunity to forego any of those and head off to Vegas, baby. Well, Findley Prep School in Las Vegas, where he would refine his game before taking it to the college level after losing time due to knee injuries as a junior.

So as he contemplates that decision, he finds out:

* Tommy Amaker is out at Michigan,

* Stan Heath is out at Arkansas

* Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl is talking to Iowa

* And last — but certainly not least — everybody and their dog in Arkansas think Texas A&M coach Billy Gillispie is destined to be the new coach in Fayetteville.

"It's been kind of crazy," Sanchez said Monday night. "Everything is kind of up in the air. I am just trying to figure out who is coming and who is going and just what it all means. Not to mention, do I want to go to prep school first or go on to college? I just don't know right now. I guess I just see what all happens and then make a decision."

Sanchez averaged 16 points and 10 rebounds this past season for a Har-Ber team that also included UA signee Nate Rakestraw.

The Wildcats won the Class 7A-West title and then lost in the state championship game to conference foe Fort Smith Northside while trying to beat them for the third time in as man tries.

"Man, that was tough, but we had a great season and really did a lot in the two years that our school has been around," Sanchez said. "I look back on it and think we accomplished a lot."

He intended to make a decision right after his senior season was over, but when the U-Haul vans starting lining up at coach's houses, he decided to slow down.

Sanchez got a call a little over a week ago from Heath, who wanted to visit with Sanchez and his parents about going ahead and being a 2007 prospect instead of a 2008 one.

While numerically Arkansas doesn't have a scholarship left, there has been plenty of speculation that some were going to be transferring out.

"He just wanted to talk about how my season went and how he hoped that I would go ahead and be a Razorback now instead of later," Sanchez said. "He talked about their season and how he thought the future would go."

At the same time, Sanchez has been fielding phone calls and getting text messages from Gillispie and Texas A&M assistant Jeremy Cox, who was the coach at Arkansas-Fort Smith before joining the Aggie staff last spring.

"They offered me a scholarship and since they have coach Cox has been texting me about every day and saying how much they want me if I decided to go college right now," Sanchez said.

Like the rest of us, Sanchez will wait until Arkansas gets an "official" yes or no from Gillispie and then go back to contemplating college or prep school.

But he doesn't try to hide what combination would stir some excitement in him.

"Man, I love Coach Gillispie's intensity and the intensity with which his team plays," Sanchez said. "I also really, really like coach Cox. I would love to be play for them — especially if I had the opportunity to do it right around the corner instead of nine hours away from home."



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