Sanchez Seals Deal, Inks With Hogs

SPRINGDALE -- The only thing keeping Michael Sanchez from making one of the toughest decisions of his life was just a little reassurance -- something he finally found last Sunday night.

After meeting with Arkansas basketball coach John Pelphrey, Sanchez felt like the situation with the Hogs would be a perfect one for himself and his family. Ultimately, he decided that becoming a Razorback was his best option. On Tuesday, at a news conference in Springdale Har-Ber's Wildcat Arena, Sanchez reaffirmed that commitment in front of family and friends by signing a national letter of intent to play for Arkansas next season. "Coach Pelphrey just reassured me on some things and we talked a little more about the situation," Sanchez said. "He made me feel really good about being a Razorback. So I decided to give my mom an early Mother's Day present." Sanchez chose Arkansas over Wake Forest, Kentucky, Colorado and Findley Prep in Las Vegas, a school that he had already committed to play for next season. Sanchez, who averaged 16 points, 15 rebounds and 7 assists for the Wildcats as a senior last season, also helped guide Har-Ber to the Class 7A state championship game in March. Sanchez, projected as a power forward for the Razorbacks, joins Har-Ber teammate Nate Rakestraw -- who signed to play for Arkansas in November. Sanchez and Rakestraw are also the first two players from the same school to ever sign with Arkansas in the same year, said Eric Burnett, Har-Ber's basketball coach. "He's been my best friend since the third grade," Rakestraw said. "We both thought that we had played our last game together (last March), but knowing that we'll be together for at least four more years, it's really awesome. I can't even put it into words." Sanchez had planned to attend Findley Prep next season so that he could help himself get past knee injuries he sustained in 2005, said Bert Sanchez, Michael's father. But because Michael had such a productive senior year with the Wildcats last season, including a stellar spring where he had a double-double in every 7A-West Conference game, he decided that making the jump to the Division I-A level right away would be the best choice, Bert said. "You think about it, two guys -- and both are signing with the Razorbacks, and that's never been done before -- it's just like, wow, I really can't believe it," Burnett said. "I told both of them that I'd like to go back and change their transcripts to keep them here, because I'm going to miss them." Bio Box MICHAEL SANCHEZ HEIGHT: 6-9 WEIGHT: 230 SCHOOL: Springdale Har-Ber NOTABLE: Sanchez, who was an All-State selection the last two years for the Har-Ber Wildcats, chose to play for Arkansas next fall instead of Wake Forest, Kentucky or Colorado, schools that recruited him within the last year.

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