No Easy Decision

In his weekly column, Dudley E. Dawson chats with Springdale Har-Ber's Michael Sanchez, who suddenly has more options after getting healthy. 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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There's the University of Arkansas, the University of Kentucky, Wake Forest, Tennessee and Michigan all ganged up in one corner.

Then there's the Findlay College Prep – a second year pre-college program just outside of Las Vegas – by itself in the other.

And as of this very moment, Findlay has the advantage over those high majors for one Michael Sanchez, the 6-8, 220-pound power forward who just finished up his senior season at Springdale Har-Ber High School.

"I am still committed to going to Findlay Prep right now, but my head is spinning from all the attention I have gotten lately from these college coaches," Sanchez said. "I thought I knew for sure what I was doing, but now I have some tough decisions to make."

The reason he has to make those decisions is because a fully healthy Sanchez has shown in the first two AAU Tournaments of the year while college coaches and recruiting analysts were so high on him before and during his sophomore season before knee problems arrived.

Following up a solid performance in which he averaged 21 points and 11 rebounds in the Real Deal on the Hill AAU event, Sanchez was spectacular at the Pittsburgh Jam Fest this past weekend.

He averaged 20 points and 13 rebounds as the Hawks went 4-1 at the Jam Fest before losing to eventual champ Grassroots Canada Sunday morning in the Elite Eight of the event.

New Arkansas coach John Pelphrey and Wake Forest head coach Skip Proesser – two head coaches who visited with Sanchez at Har-Ber last week – were looking on.

"The biggest difference in my play now is that I am fully healthy, have my mobility and can be very aggressive," Sanchez said. "I am able to cut and jump with no pain and it makes a big difference."

Even though he was ranked as one of the nation's top 50 sophomores before he played a high school game, Sanchez dropped out of the rankings after a sub-par junior season that ended with a pair of surgical procedures on painful knees that he had played with during the season.

During that time and the first part of his senior season, Sanchez certainly had his detractors – no doubt many of the same ones who thought that myself and others had over-hyped him.

But a double-double spree in all his conference season and then the coming out party in front of college coaches at the Real Deal cemented that he was fully healthy.

Last week, he had visits from Pelphrey – who he will visit with again with this week - and Prosser and will have Kentucky visiting this week with all three having put offers on the table.

"I thought Coach Pelphrey was a real cool dude," Sanchez said. "He is a young guy that really seems like a coach that players would love to play for. I know he is a real solid coach and I am excited that he is at Arkansas now."

Sanchez said Sunday night that he plans to take some official visits – he has not taken any of his five as of yet – before making a decision.

"I have not yet taken an official visit to Arkansas so I want to do that and visit Wake Forest and Kentucky, too, before I make a final decision."

What will help make that decision?

"I will make my decision on whether I could get enough playing time to keep developing and getting back that year I basically lost and didn't get any better because of my knees," Sanchez said. "Also how I get along with the players and the coaches and the whole atmosphere."

Being able to continue his development is the major pull of Findlay, which was launched last year with a five-year, multi-million dollar commitment from Las Vegas car magnate and former UNLV player Cliff Findlay, whose son Robert attended Maine Central Institute.

Last year's inaugural 10-player squad had players from Serbia and Sweden, Cameroon (former Little Rock Christian standout Rony Tchatchoua) and Puerto Rico, Holland and Lithuania.

The 10 players – who take classes inside the prestigious Warren Walker Green Valley Academy - live in a five-bedroom house in Henderson with an assistant coach and his wife.

They play a big-time schedule that includes other prep teams across the country that are littered with Division I prospects.

"That's the biggest question for me right there," Sanchez said. "Am I better off taking one of these scholarships now and maybe not playing enough or going to Findlay and continue getting better and then going to college? It's a tough decision and one I'll make for sure in the next few weeks or so."

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