It didn't take long for new University of Arkansas basketball coach John Pelphrey to make the short trip up the hill from his office to Fayetteville High School.
Pelphrey did so on Thursday to offer 6-1 junior-to-be guard Fred Gulley after watching the youngster shine for the Arkansas Hawks at last weekend's Pitt Jam Fest in Pittsburgh.
"I was at school earlier today in fifth period and they came and got me out of class," Gulley said. "I had a meeting with Coach Pelphrey and he said I had an offer and a chance to commit any time that I am ready to do so."
Gulley, who has pattered his game after former Fayetteville High and Arkansas star and current NBA player Ronnie Brewer, averaged 17.7 points, 7.7 rebounds and 2.3 assists last season for the Purple Bulldogs.
While others such as Missouri, Kentucky, Texas A&M, Mississippi State and Baylor have shown interest, the new Razorback staff was the first one to put down an actual scholarship offer.
"It being the first one is very special and I feel very honored to be offered by such an outstanding program," Gulley said.
Gulley said he has been very impressed with Pelphrey so far.
"He's a great guy and the more I get to know him I think it might be a real pleasure to play for him if that's what I decide to do," Gulley said.
Like Brewer before him, Gulley excelled at driving to the basket and getting to the free throw line as evidenced that he shot 175 free throws this season for Fayetteville head coach Barry Gebhart's squad.
"I can't tell you enough how many times he'd create a drive to the lane when we couldn't get open," Gebhart told The Morning News of Northwest Arkansas earlier this year. "And better yet, the way he passed the ball or helped his teammates out was unreal.
"I know I may say this a lot, but what truly, truly made Fred a great player was his ability to really make everybody around him better, because he did that, in several situations."
Gulley, a long-time AAU veteran, is getting the chance this spring and summer to play a big frontline that includes 6-8, 220-pound Springdale Har-Ber forward Michael Sanchez, 6-7, 200-pound Washington prep small forward Clarence Trent and 6-10 North Little Rock center Andre Clark for the Hawks.
"Now I get to be the point guard and don't have to worry about scoring as much," Gulley said. "That makes everything different. There is a lot less pressure on me."
"..Right now this is the closest I have been to playing with college level players at every position," Gulley said. "It is really allowing me to become more of a point guard than just trying to create things by driving to basket myself."
He doesn't rule out following in Brewer's footsteps at Arkansas.
"I grew up watching him and was with him about every day growing up," Gulley said. "We have always been close and I think it is a compliment to be mentioned with Ronnie Brewer."
Like Brewer was at his age, Gulley is hopeful of expanding his game as he gets older.
"Right now I feel like I can get in the paint whenever I need to," Gulley said. "We are trying to work on my 3-pointers and my outside consistency."
Gulley's name is no doubt familiar to some Razorback fans who know him as someone who was reportedly offered a scholarship before he entered the fifth grade by a former assistant on previous UA head coach Stan Heath's staff.
"I have always surrounded myself with good people so my parents didn't let me hear all that stuff," Gulley said of all the hoopla that surrounded the story. "But now I am just going out trying to prove everything. From a young age, everybody has had their eyes on me so I have tried to conduct myself in the right way."
The Hawks, 4-1 last season before losing to the eventual champions at the Jam Fest, will be back in action this weekend at the Next Level Tournament in Dallas.
"We play really good as a team as long as we are fresh," Gulley said. "We try to full court press all the time and sometimes we don't play as well toward the end of tournaments. But we are going to keep getting better and close these things out."
Arkansas offers Gulley
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