UA nabs Fortson, Joyner

The University of Arkansas basketball program lands a pair of guards on Wednesday in Courtney Fortson (5-11, 175) and Terrance Joyner (6-2, 180) and will add a pair of big guys on Thursday. 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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The University of Arkansas basketball signed two players on Wednesday, will get another pair on Thursday and then wait to see what two more do in the next week.

Both point guard Courtney Fortson (5-11, 175) of The Patterson School and Mendenhall (Miss.) Genesis One Christian Academy guard Terrance Joyner (6-2, 180) inked with the Razorbacks Wednesday on the first day of the week-long early signing period.

The big men will come on Thursday when Genesis One forward Andre Clarke (6-10, 205) and New Orleans (LA.) Holy Cross forward Brandon Moore (6-9, 215) plan to sign and its also the day UA head coach John Pelphrey will talk about his class.

"This is very exciting," Joyner said just minutes after becoming the first signee of the class Wednesday morning and then shipped his letter-of-intent on to his mom in California. "I can't wait to get up there and play with those guys."

Fortson, signed his letter of intent later in the day while at home in Alabama and sent the fax on to Arkansas.

""It's a great feeling to be a Razorback," Fortson said. "All my hard work has paid off, especially this summer. I can't wait to put on that Arkansas jersey."

Arkansas is also awaiting a decision from another pair – Verdigris (Okla.) High guard Rotnei Clarke (6-1, 180) and Coffeyville (Kan.) Community College small forward Daniel Payne (6-7, 210).

Clarke is down to Arkansas, ORU and Oklahoma State and plans to sign in the early period while Payne will sign with Arkansas if he decides to not wait until the spring to sign.

Fortson, who is averaging 27 points, 10 assists and 5 rebounds per game so far this season and was Mr. Basketball in Alabama last season, has led his team to a 10-0 start for head coach Chris Chaney.

"Courtney is just the ultimate player," Chaney said. "He leads by example, he leads vocally and he is just as tough as nails. He's an unselfish player, but can score when he needs to.

"All the kids love playing with him," Chaney added. "He loves playing defense and just doesn't have a weakness."

There are some who think that Fortson will start right away although current UA back-up point guard Stefan Welsh will obviously have something to say about that.

"I really think he will be able to come in and be the quarterback from the word go," Chaney said. "He's fearless and nothing rattles him. I think he is very fortunate to be going to Arkansas and I think Arkansas is very fortunate to be getting him. It's a great situation for both."

Arkansas is also known to be keeping tabs on 6-2 guard Varez Ward, who has been Fortson's teammate since the fourth grade and is now with him at the Patterson School.

Ward, averaging 18 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists per game, is considering Arkansas, UTEP and Cincinnati.

"Both of those guys are bulldogs on the court and puppy dogs off of it," Chaney said. "They are great basketball players and great kids. Ward definitely won't sign early, but maybe he'll get the chance to make it to Arkansas. If not, he's going to be a great, great guard for somebody." Genesis One assistant coach Audie Norris said Joyner has been brilliant so far this season in a 4-1 start.

Joyner, a native of California, poured in 69 points and dished out 33 assists last weekend in an unbeaten 4-0 run through a tournament held on the campus of Jackson State.

"Terrance really had a great tournament last weekend," Norris said. "He has learned how to be a point guard and distribute the ball to the open man."

Joyner still has some academic work to do to get eligible.

"He is really dedicated young man in the classroom now and is working hard to get his grade point average as high as he can and hopefully that gets taken into account," Norris said. "I have confidence he is going to get everything in order."

There has been some speculation that Genesis One may be shutting down in December.

"We are not shutting down," Norris said. "That is an erroneous report. What the situation is actually just deals with our basketball schedule. We may not have the money to make the trips we have scheduled after January to Rhode Island, Houston, Atlanta and Dayton, Tennessee. It costs a lot of money for that and we just don't have it right now.

"When we play the junior colleges we are compensated for that so we will continue to do that," Norris added. "It's just that we might not be able to make those trips to the tournaments."

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