Bluff City Magic

Arkansas head basketball coach John Pelphrey is doing his best to position the Razorbacks to once again mine establish a talent pipeline to Memphis, including going after players such as junior Mardracus Wade and Tarik Black and sophomore Adonis Thomas.

Over the course of the last two weeks – in both Las Vegas and Fayetteville – I have had the chance to see why University of Arkansas basketball coach John Pelphrey wants the program's pipeline to Memphis so much.

Names such as 2010 prospects such as guards Mardracus Wade (6-4) of Memphis Mitchell, Tim Peete (6-4) of Central and Aparecio Piggins (5-10) of Whit e Station and power forward Tarik Black (6-8, 230) of Ridgeway as well as 2011 diamond like forward Adonis Thomas (6-6, 190) of Memphis Melrose.

Perhaps Eric "Cowboy" Robinson, their Memphis Magic AAU coach, sums it up best.

"When we practice, I try to make it as hard as it can be so the games will seem easy," Robinson said. "In practice, we don't call any fouls, we don't have any out-of-bounds lines – we just play ball. The kids then take that same attitude into the games and play just as hard as they can – diving on the floor for loose balls, taking the hit on the way to the goal and don't worry about the calls.

"In all honesty, we use the basketball as meat and roll it on the floor and they view it as that is how they have got to eat," Robinson said. "Our kids are hard and intense and will fight you to the end and they know the way for them to get a scholarship and a great free education is through the basketball."

That simply turns on Pelphrey, who was at the Memphis Magic games in Las Vegas – just as he has been at every single stop along the AAU circuit this spring and summer.

"I think the effort Coach Pelphrey has put in is go to open up another floodgate in Memphis for Arkansas," Robinson said. "He doesn't miss a game. He's letting us know how much he wants these kids. He's a tremendous recruiter."

Wade, Thomas, Peggins and 2009 prospect Zach Jones of Craigmont were among the 50 or so players on hand for the Arkansas Elite Camp this past weekend.

"My guys have great heart and came up here and played hard," Robinson said. "My guys brought the fight. I am already looking forward to coming back next year to the Elite Camp for competition at the Elite Camp.

Perhaps there is no one with more intensity than Wade, who certainly has the toughness of a guy like former Arkansas national championship squad point guard Corey Beck.

He is getting interest from Arkansas, Memphis, Ole Miss, Baylor, Missouri and Georgia Tech to name a few schools.

"I like how Arkansas plays, how they get up and down the court," Wade said. "I like they way they work hard and that is what I like to do."

Black, who has Arkansas, Memphis and Ole Miss showing early interest, certainly looks the part of a power forward.

"I really, really have to work on my handle and getting stronger," Black said. "But I am really athletic and can the floor good and have high endurance."

Peete has long been a fan of the Razorbacks.

"I love the tradition they have the atmosphere at the games," Peete said. "There's hardly a word that really describes how nuts it is. They are definitely one of my favorites."

Thomas is the youngest of the crew, but it's hard to tell that from just looking at him.

"I've seen some of their SEC games and was very impressed," Thomas said. "They run the fast break and try to get easy baskets and also go for the steals on defense and that's a big part of my game."

Smith said that he believes Pelphrey will be able to get back Arkansas solidly back in Memphis just as Nolan Richardson did during his tenure with the Razorbacks.

"I think Arkansas is going to get it done," Robinson said. "They've got Coach Pelphrey and they are in the SEC. All the kids like that combination."

Mardracus Wade

Adonis Thomas

Tarik Black

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