The Baby Wings are growing up.
That will continue to happen this weekend when the Arkansas Wings' 16-and-under headlines the Old School Super Regional AAU Tournament in Conway.
"The 2011 class in Arkansas is clearly one of the most talented ever in this state," Arkansas Wings coach Ron Crawford said. "Of course that's very easy to say when both Arkansas and Kentucky had already offered three of them when they were still in the ninth grade."
Indeed 6-8 UA commit Aaron Ross of Little Rock Parkview, 6-10 Jonesboro Westside forward Hunter Mickelson and 6-4 East Poinsett County swingman Ky Madden all possessed offers from the Razorbacks and Wildcats and others while still in junior high.
Those three young men are all coming off sensational sophomore seasons that validated those offers.
"That class is awesome and then when you add in Micha Delph, Shelton Baird, Darion Griswold, David Rivers and Issac McCoy, it's just off the chart," Crawford said. "There are supposed to be even more sophomores here this weekend that are all supposed to be pretty good as well. There is just no telling how many of these kids are going to end up signing Division I scholarships."
The Old School Super Regional top two age classes features 16 teams in the 17-year-old division and the same amount in the 16-year-old division.
That allows for an event that allows flexibility and doesn't wear the athletes outs.
"I chose the Old School name because that is how it used to be done back in the day," Crawford said. "These kids won't have to miss any school, they will play three games on Saturday and two on Sunday and they are out of there.
"I just think kids shouldn't be playing more than five games on a weekend," Crawford added. "I just think that is too much and is what makes this a perfect fit."
The Arkansas Wings Elite will play Saturday morning at 9:45, again at 1:30 p.m. and finish pool play at 6:30 with all three games being on the Hendrix College campus.
Bracket play will be begin Sunday morning.
Another one of the headliners in the 16-and-under tournament is 6-3 Bradley Beal of the St. Louis Eagles.
He was the standout performer as his team win the Boo Williams tournament last weekend.
The Arkansas Wings 17-and-under squad features of players featuring D-I offers in the Conway duo of 6-4 Preston Purifoy and 6-1 guard Kenyon McNeaill.
They will play Saturday at 8:30, 12:15 and 4 p.m. – also at Hendrix.
Crawford reports that Purifoy now has offers from Ole Miss and UAB and McNeiall from Nebraska and UAB.
"Preston is still rated in the top 20 nationally at his position and Nike is is coming here this weekend to evaluate him again," Crawford said. "Both of those kids are very good players."
Another intriguing prospect playing in the 17-and-under tournament is 6-8 sophomore Wayne Martin, Jr. – the son of the former Arkansas and NFL star who is playing for Memphis YOMCA.
The tournament features teams from Arkansas, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Missouri and Illinois.
"About half of our teams are from Arkansas and the rest from adjoining states," Crawford said. "That's what we think is best, they won't have to miss school either Friday or Monday."
Going Old School
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