Spring Fling

In his weekly recruiting column, Dudley E. Dawson gives updates on four prospects - including Jason Henry and Nick Williams - as the five-week spring signing period opens and also previews the Real Deal on the Hill. This story is sponsored by the Arkansas Toyota Dealers. It's free and so is a special offer to attend a Razorback event. Click on the Arkansas Toyota banner for details.

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While it won't sign anyone today as the five-week long spring signing period opens, the University of Arkansas basketball program is still in the process of adding to its 2008 recruiting class.

But it will also have a great opportunity to impress identified 2009, 2010 and even 2011 prospects this weekend.

That's because Fayetteville, Springdale and Rogers will be hosting the fourth annual Real Deal on the Hill AAU tournament Friday through Saturday – including a plethora of games at Bud Walton Arena.

All five of the Razorbacks' current 2008 signees played in the event over the course of the last few seasons and every major college coach in the country will once again be on hand.

"It's a wonderful event for us to have on our campus," Arkansas head coach John Pelphrey said. "You love the opportunity to show off what we have and what makes Arkansas such a special, special place."

Also Conway will be hosting the Old School Super Regional AAU Tournament, another big-time AAU tournament that features 6-7 2011 UA commit Aaron Ross among many others.

Arkansas has the scholarships to add up to three more prospects in the 2008 class if it chooses to do so.

The most likely of those is former West Memphis high school standout Jason Henry (6-6, 190), a small forward/shooting guard who is currently a prep school standout at Cincinnati Harmony Christian.

Henry took his official visit to Arkansas this past weekend, has made it clear that he wants to play for the Razorbacks, who are in the process of making sure the 21-year-old can be admitted.

"This is where I am meant to be," Henry said. "I think everything is going to work out."

Pelphrey and his staff also clearly covet Mobile (Ala.) LeFlore shooting guard Nick Williams (6-5, 225), a former Marquette signee who will take his official visit to the University of Arkansas this weekend.

Williams, who averaged 21 points per game last season, got his release from Marquette when head coach Tom Crean left there for Indiana.

He got a visit from Pelphrey and Razorback assistant Isaac Brown on Sunday.

"We were very, very impressed with the visit," noted Harold White, Williams' dad. "Coach Pelphrey and his assistant were very impressive and my son will now be visiting up there this weekend."

The visit apparently went so well that Williams, a 3-star recruit according to Scout.com, has now narrowed his decision down between two schools and eliminated Alabama and South Alabama.

"After the visit, I would say right now that it is 50-50 between Arkansas and Indiana," White added.

Pelphrey coached in Mobile the past five seasons.

"Coach Pelphrey used to be the coach of South Alabama and that's in Mobile, so he's been on me for a long time," Nick Williams told John Decker of HoosierNation.com. "He's seen me play, and we have a relationship."

Williams talked about what he is looking for in making his choice a second time.

"I want to be able to come in and make an early impact on a team and on a city of my choice," Williams said. "The tradition of the school is important, and I want to be able to get along with the players and the coaching staff.

"Right now, it's a toss up between Indiana and Arkansas."

That was something that White confirmed again on Wednesday morning after a report that Williams might sign with Indiana on Wednesday.

"Nick will not be signing today," White said. "We've haven't made a decision when Nick is going to sign or who he is sign with. He still has his visit to Arkansas on Friday. We have not made a decision to sign with anyone so whatever was on Rivals.com is not true. He has not made a decision. After we visit Arkansas this weekend we should be able to make a decision between the two schools."

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Arkansas is also known to have some interest in a pair of juco players - Vincennes University guard Devon Dumes (6-2, 185) and Los Angeles Southwest Community College power forward JeJuan Brown (6-7, 232), but no visits are set up for either one at the moment.

Dumes is visiting Ohio State this weekend and Alabama the next one with a possible final visit to Arkansas.

Brown has decided to visit Arkansas State this weekend and may be brought in by the Razorbacks at a later date.

The Razorbacks are also open to a high major transfer.

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Perhaps the best time to catch a quartet of 2009 prospects that Arkansas is recruiting play at the Real Deal on the Hill is Saturday at 12:40 p.m. at Bud Walton Arena.

Playing on the three courts the arena will have during the event will be Arkansas Hawks stars Clarence Trent and Fred Gulley, Texas Select small forward Shawn Williams and Atlanta Celtics forward Derrick Favors.

As for the Old School, Ross' game at 4:45 starts a quartet of games featuring Arkansas squads against top AAU teams from around the region.

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