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In terms of recruiting, the University of Arkansas basketball program landed its biggest addition on Tuesday afternoon.
That was when senior-to-be Michael Washington (6-9, 239) announced he would be taking his name out of the NBA draft and staying for his senior season as a Razorback.
As a second-team All SEC performer guy who averaged 15.5 points and 9.8 rebounds last season, that's a huge get – or keep however you look at it - for the UA according to Dave Telep, the national scouting director for Scout.com.
"This is a very big deal for Arkansas," Telep said. "Not only do they keep an elite level guy who will play in the NBA one day on board, but it makes all the guys around him that much better. Especially the young ones, especially Marshawn Powell."
Powell is a 6-8, 250-pound power forward from The Miller School in Charlottesville, Va., who is ranked as one of the top 65 prospects nationally in the 2009 class by Scout.com.
He is one of seven newcomers that are expected to be on the Razorback roster next season.
"You never want a freshman to be your focal point, even if he is an elite guy," Telep said. "Now Marshawn can go about his business and contribute, but also learn from a high level guy about how to work through the process of a season and what it takes to succeed on the college level."
Telep raves about Powell as just being a player.
"He may not be the tallest guy around, may not be the best leaper or the most well-conditioned guy around, but he simply is a great player who knows how to be successful," Telep said. "He can knock down face-up shots, is very, very good around the cup and is a true basketball player who just makes things happen good for his team."
With Washington returning, Arkansas should have five legitimate inside guys who could help them next season.
In addition to returnee Michael Sanchez and the aforementioned Washington and Powell, Arkansas has signed 7-0, 230-pound center Anthony Borden of West Memphis and 6-9, 220-pound forward-center Delvon Johnson of Indian Hills (IA) Community College.
Borden is someone that definitely intrigues Telep.
"He is the true definition of a project because he has not been playing basketball that long, but he has all the tools – he is big, runs the floor, blocks shots," Telep said. "We say prospect and it might take him a little time, but it's not because he doesn't have the ability and talent. He does. He has the raw materials and bottom line is the competition he is going to go up against now on the college level in practice is going to make him that much better, especially since the big fella (Washington) is sticking around."
It also makes the perimeter guys such as incoming junior college swingman Jemal Farmer (6-5, 215) pleased.
"Man, that's great," Farmer said when told of the news. "There is no doubt that we can better with him than without him. I am really happy he is coming back because he is the type of great player that we can all build around."
Arkansas has also added Oak Hill Academy forward Glenn Bryant (6-7, 200), Mississippi prep guard Julysess Nobles (6-1, 175) and Iowa transfer Jeff Peterson (6-1, 185) during this spring period.
"Glenn Bryant is a live body, a pogo-stick athlete who I can guarantee you will make one momentum-changing dunk per game next season for Arkansas," Telep said. "He is a great, great athlete.
"He will also make a great contribution in the locker room," Telep said. "He is a cut-up and guys really like being around him. He is a unique person and makes everybody feel better he is around and have more fun both on and off the court."
Nobles should be a contributor as well according to Telep.
"He is a little guy, but he knows how to score and knows how to play the game," Telep said. "I could definitely see him being a real compliment to (Arkansas point guard) Courtney Fortson. I like that spot for them."
There has been plenty of consternation expressed on message boards, radio shows and no doubt places where people actually see each other face-to-face about the Arkansas basketball program and its future.
A 12-1 start last season fizzled to a 2-15 finish and left Razorback fans wondering.
"I can understand why people would be upset, but I can tell you this – John Pelphrey has proved people wrong over and over again," Telep said. "They asaid he was not good enough to play college basketball and his jersey ends up hanging in the rafters at Kentucky.
"He has shown he can take guys and turn situations around, but do it in the right way," Telep added. "He does it with discipline and they should be giving him the huge benefit of doubt up there. He is going to succeed. He always has."
That said, signing 7 players a year after signing 6 is a lot of turnover.
"You never want to have to do that and I think now that his players are in the program it will be the last time that the classes are out of balance," Telep said. "What he has done here is sign building blocks. The class might not blow you away, but he has got guys who will help them do things much better than they did last year.
"We all know they are going to go as far as Michael Washington and Courtney Fortson take them, but now they have a lot more parts that can help them get there," Telep said. "I truly believe that."