The Real Deal - Version 5

The Real Deal AAU Tournament makes the move from The Hill to The Rock in its fifth year with action beginning Friday night at 5:30 p.m. and running through Sunday.

Whether you call it the Real Deal No Longer on the Hill or by its proper name - Real Deal in the Rock, it's definitely a star-studded event once again this season.

Some 350 teams and over 5,000 players will be on hand this weekend as one of the nation's best AAU Tournaments opens Friday night and makes the move from Fayetteville to Little Rock in its fifth year.

When you have alumni like Blake Griffin, Greg Oden, Derrick Rose, Michael Beasley, Kevin Durant, Thaddeus Young, Robin Lopez, Mike Conley, Eric Gordon, Johnny Flynn, James Anderson, Jeff Teague, Courtney Fortson and Derrick Favors just to name a few – you know you've earned your place among the nation's most prestigious showcases.

"It's basically the same old, same old this year," Real Deal director Bill Ingram said. "We have got guys who are going to be great college players and go on to the NBA just like we have every year since this has started. In fact, we will have about 150 of the top 200 AAU teams in the country in this year's tournament."

As one of the AAU season's earliest events, it also has been a place where many of those aforementioned stars have broken out.

"You look back on it and this was where Kevin Durant really made his name," Ingram said. "He was on the same team as Beasley and people were like ‘who is this guy?' Derrick Rose was the MVP of our 16-year-old division and the next thing you know he is playing in the NCAA Championship game and the number one pick in the NBA draft."

There are certainly two huge developments with the tournament this year.

Unlike in the previous events, college coaches will not be allowed to attend because of a new NCAA rule making it a dead period.

However, the games will be streamed via the internet for fans and coaches alike to see.

"There is still as much interest in this tournament even with the new rule because it is one of the few that matches up the best teams and best talent against each other regardless of who they are sponsored by," Ingram noted.

The other big change is the tournament making the move from Fayetteville to Little Rock. "It was not something where we were unhappy with it being in Northwest Arkansas, but instead a decision that would allow us to have more teams and it is a better set-up as far as the gym locations being closer together," Ingram said. "We hope to build on the momentum that we have gotten this last few years."

No doubt there will be plenty of interest in the prospects that are being recruited by the University of Arkansas.

Some of those include the Memphis Magic Elite contingent of 2010 stars Joe Jackson, Mardracus Wade, Tarik Black and 2011 prospect Adonis Thomas.

Hoops Planet has a trio of players being recruited by the Razorbacks in 6-6 point guard Jelani Kendrick, 6-9 forward Donte Williams and small forwards Jemail Jones.

The tournament has certainly had its share of current Razorbacks with Fortson, Michael Washington, Andre Clarke, Michael Sanchez and future ones in 7-footer Anthony Borden, Marshawn Powell and Julysess Nobles.

"Because we have so many of the top players and teams, we are always going to guys that ended up playing at Arkansas," Ingram said.

Ironically one of the top draws at this tournament will be Ohio State signee Jared Sullinger, the younger brother of former Razorback J.J. Sullinger.

The 6-7, 252-pound Sullinger will be on display right away as the event kicks off with his All-Ohio Red squad taking on MBA Elite in a 5:45 game at the Jack Stephens Center.

That will happen right after CBS broadcaster Clark Kellogg has address the participants.

"We're very excited about Clark coming to speak, kicking things off with a great game and then have a great weekend," Ingram said. "Like I said earlier, same old, same old."


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