Resting Romero

After Stephen A. Smith gets things going, players like Romero Osby and Michael Sanchez - who had 26 points on Friday night - kick things into gear at the Real Deal on the Hill AAU Tournament in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE -- Romero Osby has scholarship offers from schools including Florida, Kansas and Memphis, is ranked as the No. 16 recruit in the country by Scout.com and was just fine with his five-point performance at the Real Deal on the Hill on Friday night.

And get this -- his coach was, too.

Osby and his coach, Norman Williams, typify what AAU basketball is all about. There aren't three to four days between games, tapes of opponents aren't readily available and some teams -- like Osby's Huntsville, Ala.-based Southeast Elite -- are roped into playing as many as four games in a single day.

So when Williams saw the opportunity to let his superstar rest on Friday night before a Saturday that could have the Southeast Elite playing four games, he took it.

"That's just like with college teams and NCAA Tournament," said Williams, who's coached AAU for seven years. "If you've got a good lead, you want to rest your kids because you don't want them to be so aggressive and get tired so that the next time you play they don't have their legs. But in AAU, it's a lot more risky because you play back-to-back days."

The Southeast Elite won its game against Legacy X-Factor rather easily, 77-62. They play again at 11:30 a.m. today in Bud Walton Arena against Pump N Run Elite, which Williams said is one of the premier teams in the country.

"I didn't have that great of a game today, but that's how we have to play in AAU," Osby said. "The players who realize that and don't worry about getting theirs are who rise to the top. It's all about winning here, and it's a little bit different."

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Stephen A. Speaks To Players

It's a little difficult to get Quinton West's undivided attention when he's got a basketball game in an hour or so.

That is, unless you're Stephen A. Smith.

Smith, an ESPN personality largely known for his love for the NBA, spoke to players, coaches, family and fans at the opening ceremony of the Real Deal on the Hill.

"It was a huge surprise," said West, who plays for the Magic 32 Tennessee Thunder. "I didn't even know it was him at first. I was attentive to everything he had to say."

One of Smith's pervading messages was the importance of performing not just on the court, but off the court, including academics, discipline and the like.

"Older people and coaches talk about it, but it's kind of cliche," West said. "But you really take it to heart when you hear it from a guy like that in the public eye and is listened to by a lot of people nationwide."

Gates Taking His Time

Yancy Gates has interest in Arkansas, but he said Friday that he is going to take his time in deciding where to commit.

"I'm going to take my time deciding on where to go to college," said Gates, who finished with 15 points as his team, the Cleveland Basketball club, defeated the Magic 32 Tennessee Thunder 64-40. "Right now, I'm just focused on getting ready to take the ACT."

Gates, who Scout.com ranks as the No. 28 player in the class of 2008, also has college interest from Cincinnati, Georgetown, Indiana and Ohio State to name a few. He said the ongoing search for a coach at Arkansas is not affecting his choice at all.

"I'm the type of guy where I can just wait and see who the coach is," said Gates, a 6-foot-8, 250-pound power forward. "I play for the school and the coach, and I don't care to wait."

Hawks Cruise

The Arkansas Hawks made their opening game ugly, and fast.

Springdale Har-Ber's Michael Sanchez scored a game-high 26 points, and the Hawks blew out the Louisiana Tarheels 78-41 at Fayetteville High. Sanchez's teammate, Fayetteville's Fred Gulley, added 10.

The Hawks raced out a 31-6 lead as Sanchez scored 16 of his points in the first half.

The Hawks, coached by tournament director Bill Ingram, play again today at 9:10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. at Bud Walton Arena.


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