Bringing Their "A" Game

In his weekly recruiting column, Dudley E. Dawson highlights UA signee Anthony Borden (7-0, 230) and Razorback sophomore commit Aaron Ross (6-7, 220), two of the expected stars at the Class 6A state tournament in West Memphis. This story is sponsored by the Arkansas Toyota Dealers, It's free and so is a special offer to attend a Razorback event. Click on the Arkansas Toyota Banner for details.

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Long-time veteran West Memphis head coach Larry Bray has seen many standouts come through his gymnasium over the past nearly 30 years.

That's included guys like Keith Lee, Michael Cage, former University of Arkansas star Sonny Weems – all of whom went on to the NBA - and current Razorback Jason Henry.

The next D-I prospect from there will be on display again Wednesday afternoon in the Class 6A State tournament in West Memphis when UA signee Anthony Borden (7-0, 230) and the Blue Devils (18-8) face Sheridan in a 5:30 p.m. game.

"You start with his size and that's a big jumping off point, but I will tell you that he is a kid that has a lot of athleticism and skill and is just growing into that big body," Bray told Hawgs Illustrated earlier this season. "He's worked on his post game and it is really coming along with a jump hook, but what a lot of people don't know is how well he shoots from 15 feet on in."

Although it was at first thought Borden might have to head to prep school first, sources close to the situation now say it is likely he will be at Arkansas next season.

"The potential he has is just incredible," Bray added. "I have no doubt he is going to be a phenomenal player for the Razorbacks down the line once he gets everything harnessed. He is just raw because he didn't play when he young, then hit a growth spurt and really is still just learning the game."

Little Rock Parkview sophomore Aaron Ross (6-7, 220) – already an Arkansas commit – will lead his Patriots (14-9) against El Dorado at 8:30 p.m. on Thursday.

Borden – averaging 13 points, 10 rebounds and around 7 blocks - and Ross – putting up around 18 points and 10 boards a game - met up twice this season with each team posting a victory. A third meeting could only occur in the state championship game the following weekend in Hot Springs, but Jacksonville, Little Rock Hall, Watson Chapel and Little Rock Fair are among those that could spoil that.

Carlos Conley, an Arkansas Wings AAU assistant coach and Ross' brother, assessed the two prospects.

"The thing about Borden is that he is a true 5 (center) and you just don't see many of those around these days," Conley said. "They all want to jump out and shoot 3s, but Borden gets down low and gets his work done.

"Aaron plays the 4 and 5 in high school, but he will be a 2-3 in college because he can take guys off the dribble," Conley added. "He will post up guards and take the bigger guys and create a match-up problem.

"The two of them playing together should really benefit each other and give the Razorbacks two really, really good players for the future," Conley added.

O o o

There are several other players on the UA recruiting radar who will be action this week at the various state tournaments.

Springdale sophomore shooting guard Shelton Baird and the Bulldogs will face North Little Rock Wednesday at 5:30 in the Class 7A state tournament on the campus of the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith.

The Conway duo of point guard Kenyon McNeaill and small forward Preston Purifoy open play Thursday in that same tournament.

The Wampus Cats will play the winner of Wednesday's match-up between Fort Smith Northside and Little Rock Central, which features 6-6 junior Alandise Harris.

East Poinsett County sophomore star Ky Madden (6-4, 180), who has an offer from Arkansas and is averaging 27.1 points and 10.4 rebounds this season, and his team face Benton Harmony Grove Thursday at 5:30 in the Class 2A state tournament in Melbourne.

One player not getting to play in a state tournament may have had that the best season of all the in-state prospects.

That would be 6-10 Jonesboro Westside sophomore forward Hunter Mickelson, whose team bowed out in regional play.

Mickelson, who along with Ross attended Arkansas' win over Georgia and the 1994 National Champion Celebration on Sunday, certainly did his part.

Perhaps his best game of the season was his next-to-last where he poured in 27 points, grabbed a whopping 26 rebounds and blocked 6 shots in a 69-65 district semifinal loss to Valley View.

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The Arkansas Wings' 16-and-under AAU squad this summer will feature Mickelson, Ross, Madden, Baird, Darion Griswold and Conway sophomore Micha Delph.

They are scheduled to open their slate this spring at the Dallas Throwdown April 3-5 and then will play in the Old School Shootout April 17-19 in Conway.

Anthony Borden

Aaron Ross

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