Shooting Stars

Conway juniors-to-be Kenyon McNeaill and Preston Purifoy are shining this summer for the Arkansas Wings' 16-and-under team, which will play this weekend in the Nike Memorial Day Classic in Nashville, Tenn.

It may sound strange since he dropped in 9 3-pointers and scored 33 points in his final game for the Arkansas Wings last weekend at the Arkansas AAU Junior State Championship in Little Rock.

But Conway junior-to-be point guard Kenyon McNeaill (6-1, 180), who is the lead guard on the Wings' 16-and-under squad, claims that his shooting is not his strength on the basketball court.

"My shooting is getting there," McNeaill understated, "but I think my strength is my leadership on the floor and my ability to get in the lane and dish it off to the big guys. If I can knock down some shots that makes it even better for all of us."

McNeaill, fellow Conway standout Preston Purifoy and the Wings will be back in action Saturday in Nashville, Tennessee, as they have pool play games at 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. in the Nike Memorial Day Classic.

They will be looking to put together performances similar to their 80-54 win over the Arkansas Rockets on Sunday in which a mad McNeaill went off and helped get his underaged team third in the event.

Purifoy (6-4) added 15 points in the win and the team also got solid play over the weekend from Watson Chapel star Daniel Broughton (6-7, 230), anotehr junior-to-be expected to be a Division I prospect.

"We won the 16 (and under state tournament the week before and thought we had a shot to win the 17," McNeail said. "We lost our semifinal game and that just made us made so we went out and just took it out on the next team. We were all hitting shots."

Arkansas head coach John Pelphrey has shown interest in McNeaill, who has of yet does not have any offers.

"He came down to our school to check us out and then watched us play at the Old School Tournament," McNeaill said. "I think he is a very good coach and looks like he knows what he is doing. I think he is going to have a great program and I think I could enjoy playing for him."

McNeaill is also a big fan of Memphis, UCLA, Kansas and Duke and hopes that those schools take notice of him this summer.

"Those teams and Arkansas are the ones I like to watch on TV," McNeaill said. "I like the way Memphis just gets the rebound and gets right up the court."

McNeaill is coming off an all-state sophomore season in which he led Conway to the brink of a 7A State Championship before Little Rock Catholic downed the Wampus Cats 46-44 in the title game at Hot Springs' Summit Arena.

With four starters coming back from a 19-11 team, including senior center Terry Tidwell, Purifoy and Jarvis Garner to go along with McNeaill, Conway looks loaded for a run in 2008-2009.

Purifoy is excited about what his team might get accomplished.

"I think we have the players to go win state this year," Purifoy said. "We just have to work hard in practice and stay focused."

The Wampus Cats will also add sophomore-to-be Mica Delph, son of former Razorback basketball great Marvin Delph.

"I think it was our defense that kept us from winning it last year and so that is something that we really are going to focus on this season," McNeaill said. "Our goal is to get back there. That is the toughest thing and if we can do that I like our chances once we get there."



Kenyon McNeaill





Preston Purifoy


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