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The University of Arkansas basketball program is working hard to turn two former rivals that became friends into teammates once again.
Ocala (Fla.) Central Florida Community College star Ricardo Ratliffe (6-8 1/2, 240), the nation's No. 3 junior college scorer last season at 26.8 points per game, said Monday that the Razorbacks will definitely get one of his five visits.
He is already being worked on hard by incoming UA freshman Marshawn Powell (6-8, 250), who was his rival in high school before they became friends and roommates while on the Boo Williams AAU squad.
"He calls me about once a week and tells me how much he wants me to sign with Arkansas and how great it would be if we were playing together in college," Ratliffe said Monday afternoon. "That is something that I am very interested in doing."
Ratliffe, who also averaged 11 rebounds per game this past season and shined in high school at Kecoughtan, has eight offers so far.
"I am working on narrowing it down and I think I am going to take my five official visits to Arkansas, Alabama, Cincinnati, Missouri and Oklahoma State," Ratliffe said. "I am going to set them up like at the end of August when I get back to school."
Ratliffe knows that the Razorbacks will be losing center Michael Washington and knows the opportunity for immediate playing time alongside Powell would be there.
"I think I could come in for Washington and step in there right away and play," Ratliffe said. "That certainly makes it interesting for me as well as playing with Marshawn. I think we could be two dominate players down low."
Indeed Ratliffe is a force in the paint, albeit one that does have touch.
"I get the majority of my points in the paint and I think I have a lot of good post moves," Ratliffe said. "But I also have a pretty good shot. I think I shot 38 percent from the 3-point range, but I also have nice touch just facing up to the basket."
Ratliffe said he likes to think he brings some strong qualities to the floor.
"I think I bring strength, toughness, a guy who loves to be physical and is not afraid of anyone," Ratliffe said. "I also bring quiet leadership. I am not that vocal a guy, but I get it done by example and say something when it needs to be said."
Razorback senior guard Stefan Welsh is also from the Boo Williams pipeline.
"I didn't really know Stef as much as Marshawn growing up, but I know he has had a lot of success up there and we're all proud of him," Ratliffe said. "He has told me he would like to see me up at Arkansas also."
Arkansas made its interest known in Ratliffe during the summer of 2008 and Razorback assistant Tom Ostrom has been to several of his games.
"Coach Tom Ostrom is my lead recruiter and I really like the guy," Ratliffe said. "He is really cool and I can tell he is really interested in me as a player and a person. He really gets me. He is one of the other main reasons I am really interested in Arkansas. I like all their coaches and I think they would really take care of me and help me develop if I make end up there and maybe one day I could play in the NBA or overseas."