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Cowley (KN) College small forward Montrell McDonald (6-6, 190), a former Fort Worth (Texas) O.D. Wyatt prep star, is slated to take an officlal visit to Arkansas this weekend.
McDonald, who played as a freshman at George Washington before heading to the junior college in Arkansas City, Kansas, committed to Texas Tech last week, but has since backed off that some.
"I did commit to Texas Tech last week, but I have since decided that I want to take a look at Arkansas," McDonald said. "I am very, very interested in Arkansas and think the best thing for me is to check out this option instead of just signing right now.
"I like the way they really get up and down the floor and I like their coaches," McDonald said.
The Razorbacks acknowledged in a press release over the weekend that Payne no longer had a chance to be eligible at Arkansas.
Sources indicate that he has been dismissed from Coffeyville Community College – like Cowley a member of the Jayhawk Conference.
That certainly clears up a spot for McDonald, who averaged 13.4 points, 5.6 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 blocks per game for head coach Steve Eck and a 31-3 squad.
"Actually Arkansas had come to watch us play at the start of the season, but they had a numbers problem," Eck said. "They also had come back to talk to him – even before Payne's deal because I think they knew that was going to happen – and he wants to take a look at what they have down there."
Eck notes that McDonald is solid offensively, but perhaps his best attribute is as a lock down defender.
"We played Payne twice and he held him to no points one time and just one point the other time so that tells you a lot," Eck said. "He's just very good defensively – 6-6 with long arms and we'll just get after your from the tip."
McDonald was one of five Cowley starters who averaged over 10 points and 5 rebounds on a very balanced team this season with all five already signed or in the process of signing with NCAA Division I schools.
Cowley lost in the regional finals – a step away from the National Junior College Tournament in Hutchinson, KN., after leading scorer Chris Rhymes tore his ACL in the semifinals.
"If we had only one or two guys I am sure Montrell would have averaged over 20 points," Eck said. "But we had five great players that all played great and as a team for us this year and that is why we were so successful."
He hit 57 percent of his shots from the field, 34 percent from 3-point range and also led his team by getting to the free throw line 154 times – albeit shooting just 57.8 percent from the charity stripe.
"He's a slasher and really, really fast," Eck said. "He can really, really run the floor. His shot has really come around this year also."
McDonald made visits to Oregon last fall and to Kansas State and Texas Tech this spring.
Kansas head coach Bill Self came to watch him practice last fall and Colorado was in the mix at one time as well.
McDonald, who will be 22 when the season starts, actually signed with Texas A&M Corpus-Christi out of high school after the 2003-2004 season but then matriculated to Bridgeton Prep.
He then signed with George Washington and averaged 4.4 points and 1.4 before deciding to head to Cowley, where he sit out 2006-2007 before shining this season.
"I think he has himself in a good place now and is ready to make an impact right away on the next level Eck said. "He likes Texas Tech, but he wants to see Arkansas. I have known (UA head) Coach (John) Pelphrey and Coach (Issac) Brown for a long time, they are good friends of mine and I know he would be fine there if that's where he ends up."
The Razorbacks could possibly save Payne's scholarship for the 2009 class, but would like to fill it if the prospect could have an impact next season.
It's clear that by bringing McDonald in this weekend for an official visit that Arkansas coaches feel that is likely.
"I know that they lost their main guy at small forward (Sonny Weems) and a lot of other guys," McDonald said. "The deal with Payne really isn't that big a factor, just the fact that it looks a like a really good opportunity for me and one I really want to check out."