Razorback Targets

In his weekly recruiting column, Dudley E. Dawson sizes up the 2008 basketball prospects that new UA coach John Pelphrey and his staff are after. 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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Now that he's had a good look at the present, new University of Arkansas John Pelphrey and his staff are back to working on the future.

That includes taking home visits during the current Sept. 9-Oct. 5 contact period to at least nine 2008 prospects and then hosting those players for official visits on campus.

"With our recruiting, we are looking for the absolute best players that can fit our system, hard-working, tough-minded, high-character guys," Pelphrey said. "With six seniors leaving our program after this year we have the unique opportunity for these guys to come in and play right away."

Pelphrey has already been to see 5-11 point guard Courtney Fortson of The Patterson (N.C.) School and forwards Keith Ramsey (6-8, 205) of Okaloosa-Walton (Fla.) Community College and Monroe (La.) Carroll star Terrance Henry (6-9, 195), who got his visit from the Razorback coach on Tuesday.

Arkansas coaches are also expected to visit 6-9, 205-pound Serbian-born Drazen Zlovaric of Weston (Fla.) Sagemont Upper School on Wednesday and 6-1 guard Rontei Clark of Claremore (OK) Verdigris on Friday.

They will also visit 6-9, 220-pound center Stan Simpson of Chicago (Ill.) Simeon, Memphis Craigmont small forward Terrico White (6-5, 190) and likely New Orleans (La.) Holy Cross forward Brandon Moore (6-8, 205) during this contact period.

Obviously they will also check up on 6-2 Genesis One guard Terrance Joyner, who committed to the Razorbacks during the summer.

Simpson, Clarke and Ramsey are all coming in for official visits on Sept. 21-23 with Fortson, Henry and White slated for theirs on Sept. 28-30.

Simpson is regarded as one of the top five players in Illinois.

"I think the strengths of my game are my jump hook, that I can play really well with my back to the basket and that I am very good at running the floor," Simpson said. "I know that is the kind of game that Arkansas is going to play – getting up and down the court. I think I do need to work on my mid-range game."

He has a lot of familiarity with Arkansas.

"I've got family in Little Rock and they all have great things to say about Arkansas the state and the school in Fayetteville," Simpson said. "I know they have have some great players there like (current Razorback and Chicago native) Patrick Beverley and NBA guys like Jannero Pargo – who is also from Chicago – Joe Johnson, Ronnie Brewer and the big guy (Corliss Williamson) that played there a long time ago and still plays in the NBA."

Simpson averaged 18 points, 11 rebounds and 5 blocks last season for Chicago Leo Catholic, but has made the move to Public League powerhouse Simeon for his senior season.

"He is a very skilled player, sometimes I don't think he even realizes just how skilled he is," Simeon head coach Robert Smith said. "He also defends very well, blocks a lot of shots and keep his man from scoring.

"If there was something I would like to see improvement on it would be his rebounding," Smith added. "He needs to get better on the boards and I am especially pushing him on the offensive glass."

Simpson thinks Smith – who worked Pargo's camp in Fayetteville this summer – will definitely make him a better player.

"I think Coach Robert Smith is going to get the best out of me and help me really develop as a player," Simpson said. "I think he is a great coach and will really get me prepared for college."

Simpson has narrowed a lengthy list of suitors down to Arkansas, Illinois and Bradley with Kentucky and Indiana still meriting attention as well.

Kentucky dropped by his school in early September.

He has been on unofficial visits to nearby Bradley and Illinois and had thought he might make his decision known right after his visit to Arkansas on Sept. 21-23.

"That might be it, but I think I will just know when the right time and place is," Simpson said.

He also has offers from Indiana, Minnesota, Virginia and many others.

"There were so many people interested in him, especially after how he ended the summer playing so well," Wright said. "But he and his mom have identified these three schools – Arkansas, Bradley and Illinois - as the ones he will have as his finalists."

UA assistant coach Tom Ostrom has been the lead recruiter on Simpson.

"Coach Ostrom and I have had some great conversations," Smith said. "They have really laid out their plans for the program, what they are looking for and how they think he could come in and help them right away."

Ostrom has certainly impressed Simpson.

"I think Coach Ostrom is a real down to earth kind of guy," Simpson said. "He makes me feel like I am their top prospect."

Simpson was able to dominant play in the Catholic League, but will be adjusting to playing in the well-known Windy City Public League.

"The thing that is different in the two leagues is that in the Public League, you have to bring it every night or you will get embarrassed," Smith said. "Especially because we will be going for our third straight championship, everybody will be shooting for us and we will get their best effort every night.

"But I think he will rise to the challenge and is going to have a very good season," Smith said. "I think he is one of the best and will just keep getting better every day."

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