The Practice Facility Race

While the University of Arkansas has great athletic facilities, it is one of only two SEC schools that don't already have a basketball practice facility in use or one that is under construction.

FAYETTEVILLE — The University of Arkansas has world-class facilities for athletics. And as far as basketball homes, Bud Walton Arena gives the Razorbacks men's and women's programs one of the most modern, most spacious arenas in the college ranks.

Still, the university lacks an important athletic structure, a potential sticking point for high school hoopsters searching for a home. Arkansas has no basketball practice facility and has no current plans to add one. Not yet, anyway.

Arkansas coach John Pelphrey, who enters his second season in Fayetteville, has ensured the school's athletic director was aware of the benefits of a basketball facility. Jeff Long didn't need too much prodding; he recently mentioned the benefits of such a facility.

"There have been some conversations about that," Pelphrey said on Wednesday's Southeastern Conference basketball coaches teleconference. "That's on Jeff Long's radar screen. We've had some conversations about those possibilities and reasons for it."

Pelphrey said a practice facility "would add a lot." That can't be underestimated. Every school in the SEC, other than Arkansas or Mississippi State, either has a practice facility for basketball or has one under construction. Mississippi State is already fundraising for a potential facility.

To the Razorbacks and their coach, the lack of a facility is most glaring in the offseason, Pelphrey said. Other functions such as the Wal-Mart shareholders meetings send them to the HPER building, the student rec center.

Several players said Wednesday that the lack of a facility didn't bother them too much.

"I never had a practice facility in high school," Arkansas guard Patrick Beverley said.

Recruits may not agree, and Long realizes the Razorbacks can't wait too much longer.

"It's an idea, it's a vision," Long said in early June. "No timeline by any stretch of the imagination, just something ... that we'll want to address. But (we have) no timeline for it."

Jawing With LeBron

Beverley's name appeared in several columns written by national college basketball writers last week. The reason? Beverley's on-court clash with Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James — the "second-best player in the world" to Beverley, an unabashed fan of Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant.

James' team, which also contained New Orleans Hornets guard Chris Paul, lost twice to Beverley's in pick-up action at the LeBron James Skills Academy in Akron, Ohio. Beverley and James even "trash-talked" through parts of the games.

But in the end, James showed respect to Beverley, who also participated in a camp hosted by Boston Celtic Paul Pierce in early June.

"After we were done, LeBron had a personal conversation with me," Beverley said. "He told me he was impressed and that I grew a lot from my freshman year. That was nice of him. It's cool to know he watches college basketball."

Schedule Not Close

The Razorbacks are still searching for teams to fill the nonconference portion of their schedule. Robby Edwards, Arkansas' sports information contact for basketball, said the 2008-09 schedule would likely be released in late August, as it was last year.

This much is known: Arkansas has nonconference contests scheduled with Texas and Oklahoma in Fayetteville. The Razorbacks will play Baylor in North Little Rock and travel to Missouri State (Nov. 22) and South Alabama (Nov. 26). Nothing has been finalized, but Arkansas is still trying to schedule a three- or four-game tournament in Fayetteville in late December.

Fortson, Henry Update

Two of Arkansas' recruits for this season still haven't arrived in Fayetteville. Point guard Courtney Fortson, a prep school standout last season at The Patterson School in North Carolina, and small forward Jason Henry, a West Memphis native, are expected soon.

Pelphrey didn't know exactly when and didn't want to discuss details.

"No, they are not here (yet)," Pelphrey said Wednesday. "I am not at liberty to discuss their status. But we do anticipate having them here in the fall."

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