One of the nation's best sophomores and his highly-talented running buddy made an appearance at Bud Walton Arena.
Mississippi prep stars LaQuinton Ross (6-9, 175) and Deville Smith (5-10, 160) were two of the talented group of prospects on hand Friday night for this weekend's three-day University of Arkansas' Elite Camp.
Ross, who played at Callaway High School last season but could be headed to Word of God Academy this season, is regarded as one of the top 5 sophomores in the country and Smith isn't too far behind.
"There have been a few dudes from Jackson that have gone to this school and I really think the coaches are cool," Ross said. "This is a place I am very interested in."
Smith echoed those same type of sentiments.
"Their coaches are great and I really get along with them," Smith said. "This is a great school with great facilities."
MBA head coach Omhar Carter, the kids AAU coach who drove the pair of Mississippi prep stars up, says his kids were anxious to get to Arkansas because of how they feel about the Razorback staff.
"Love them, just love them," Carter said. "I see them at almost every tournament and every game. I think the thing that is most impressive about Arkansas is that you see the head coach. You get to some of these tournaments and you see assistants, third assistants, trainers – but with Arkansas, we see the head coach and that means a lot.
"We just got back a day ago from Phoenix and are tired, but we get a call from (Arkansas assistant) Coach (issac) Brown and the kids say ‘let's go. We want to go to Arkansas.' The guys really respect Arkansas coaches and love to come here."
He knows he has a talented duo on his hand in Smith and Ross, who was the first freshman ever invited to play in the Elite 24 at Rucker Park and has been invited to nearly every prestigious event there is for a high school basketball player.
"In my opinion, Deville Smith is probably the closest thing to Chris Paul that I have seen coming up," Carter said. "So far this summer he has averaged 10 assists or more a game. The best thing about him is that he makes coaching easy because you don't have to run things; he does it. He distributes the ball and can score.
"LaQuinton Ross – well his game speaks for itself," Carter added. "I trained (Golden State point guard) Monta Ellis and at this stage in his career, this kid is above Monta. He is 6-8, 6-9, a pure guard who has played that since the eighth grade. Most kids his size start on the post and move out – this kid has been playing guard all his life and has just happened to grow very tall."
Ross will decide pretty soon about where he will play as a sophomore.
"It's going to have to be pretty quickly," Carter said. "I think Word of God is going to be an option for Q. I haven't talked to his mom lately, but I know that is one thing that she is looking at. I know Q wants to compete on a national stage and compete against your Oak Hill and those type of schools. He and his parents think he needs to move out to get that opportunity.
"Deville would like to go play with Q," Carter said. "I don't know if he will stay in Jackson and play at Callaway High School or if he will move."
Carter and the parents of Ross and Smith are conscious of keeping their heads on straight.
"We are trying to keep them away from all the hoopla and just let them developt," Carter said. "People get these kids and they give them so much (publicity) and they quit working. The biggest thing for kids who keep working is not just getting to the NBA, but getting there and being an All-Star."
Q and Deville
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