The University of Arkansas has landed a pair of four-star guards for its backcourt of the future.
Both Irving (Texas) MacArthur standout Rickey Scott (6-3, 195) and Chatham (VA) Hargrave Military Academy star Mardracus Wade (6-3, 170) signed their letters-of-intent with the Razorbacks on Wednesday, the opening day of the week-long early signing period.
Scott, who averaged 18.3 points, 6.7 rebounds and 4.1 assists last season and gets his 2009-2010 season started next Tuesday, is excited about the program and his future backcourt partner.
"I think this is program that is going to go very deep in the NCAA the next couple of years and I think the both of us (Scott and Wade) are going to come together to form a backcourt that will help that get it done by bringing both offense and defense to the floor. We both will be able to push the ball up the court and put pressure on the defense. I'm very excited."
Wade, the former Memphis Mitchell star whose Hargrave team is off to a 3-0 start, agrees and can't wait to don a Razorback jersey.
"I think we are going to make a great pair back there , bringing a lot of intensity and never letting our opponents take a break on either offense and defense," Wade said. "I know how excited I am for this day. I know how excited about I am to be Razorback and I can't wait to have that jersey on and make things happen for our team."
Pelphrey, who is expected to ink preseason junior college All-American Marvell Waithe (6-9, 215) of Tallahassee (FL) Community College on Thursday, was only able to talk about Scott on Wednesday as Wade's letter-of-intent had to wind its way from Virginia through his hometown of Memphis before officially arriving at Arkansas.
"I am very excited to add Rickey to our roster," Pelphrey said in a press release. "He is an outstanding young man who is very excited about being a Razorback. He is a very good student who has had tremendous success as a basketball player and is unique as a guard because of his size and athleticism. As a program, Arkansas has had a long history of recruiting success in the state of Texas and Rickey helps us continue that."
Scott, who came to Arkansas' Elite Camp in Arkansas and made an official visit in mid-September, chose the Razobacks over Texas Tech, Missouri, Marquette, Baylor and SMU.
"I just think the coaching staff is made of great people with great character and they make me want to be a part of their family," Scott said. "Not that the other schools were not great programs with great people, but I just believe in this coaching staff and what they are trying to do and I want to be a part of it."
Sporting a 3.2 grade point average, Scott is also a character guy off the floor as evidenced by his participation in Big Dogs, a non-profit youth organization that mentors children.
That is the kind of prospect – on and off the floor – that the Razorbacks went into the recruiting period hoping to land and was what assistant coach Rob Evans kept hearing from all he talked to.
"Rickey is an unbelievable person," Evans said while recounting his conversations. "He works tremendously hard both on and off the court. He is tough and hard-nosed. I got many calls from other coaches at the college level that told me Rickey was a great talent and that he was only going to get better. He is definitely the type of player you want in your program."
Jason Ross, Scott's AAU coach with Full Court Athletics, echoed that sentiment.
"Rickey is the type of player that you dream of," Ross said. "He responds with a ‘yes, sir,' every time and show up every day ready to play. The University of Arkansas not only got a fantastic basketball player, but a fantastic person. There are not too many players like him."
He also has a big fan in Dave Telep, Scout.com's national scouting analyst.
"He is a really strong, athletic guy and someone who can shoot it and get to the rim," Telep said of Scott. "He has SEC level athleticism, SEC level strength and is going to be able to really give Arkansas a lot."
"He is a guy that could play up to three positions and certainly defend three," Telep added. "You drop him down into that mix and see where he best fits in, but he is definitely going to be an impact guy and one that will get several years of starting out of."
Scott has been told that Arkansas – who had Evans break down film of him to dissect how he would best fit into the Razorbacks' philosophy according to Scott - will give him a shot to play point guard once he joins the Razorbacks.
"My goal is to make myself a true point guard and not someone that people just call a combo guard," Scott said. "I think the strength of my game right now is my ability to get to the basket and that is something I think I will continue to be able to do on the next level.
"I am also a very good 3-point shooter and just want to keep working on that," Scott added. "I will continue to work on getting in there and kicking the ball out to my teammates and making them better."
Wade and his Hargrave teammates are already off to a 3-0 start this season with him averaging about 14 points, 4 assists and 3 steals per game.
"Our team has played very well so far, played together and are hitting the weight room and practicing hard," Wade said. "We are all excited about the season and are here trying to get better and be ready to make the most impact we can when we get to our college teams."
Wade, who averaged 19 points per game last season for Memphis Mitchell, chose Arkansas over Missouri, Alabama, Ole Miss and Mississippi State.
"I am just a big believer in the staff and Coach Pelphrey and (Arkansas assistant) Coach (Tom Ostrom) got on me early and never let up and always made me feel wanted," Wade said. "It's also close enough that my family can come see me play."
Telep is also a big fan of Wade's.
"I think Mardracus Wade is one of – if not the best – defensive guards in this class," Telep said. "He is a combo guard that can really lock people down and effect a game in a big way with just his defense alone.
"He's also very good at getting to the basket, very strong inside the lane and just needs to continue to improve his outside shot to be one of the best out there," Telep said. "He is extremely athletic and if that shot gets better, he is just going to be killing it for Arkansas."
While Wade is already lauded for his defense, he continues to strive to improve it.
"I think man up I can guard and shut down just about anybody," Wade said. "One thing I am working on this year at Hargrave is help and recovery, being able to help out my teammate, but not let my man get free. I think it will make me a better team player and help us win and that is what I am all about."
Wade had hoped to have current Hargrave teammate Shawn Kemp, Jr. (6-9, 235) on the roster at Arkansas next season, but Kemp signed with Auburn.
"I'm sorry to say sir that he chose to go to Auburn and signed with them this morning," Wade said. "We'll get somebody good."
Indeed Arkansas is known to want to sign four players in the 2010 class with the most likely contender as a spring signee at this point to be Central Florida CC star Ricardo Ratliffe (6-9, 240).
The junior college All-American had 36 points and 11 rebounds on Tuesday night in his team's win while going 13-of-17 from the field.
"We're going to have a great class and a great future," Wade said. "It's going to happen. The last time they had players from Memphis on their team Arkansas went to the Final Four. That's what I am hoping happens again."
Backcourt Of The Future
Hawgs Daily Top Stories
Hogs to play Mississippi State in SEC TourneyArkansas knows who its first opponent will be in the SEC Tournament.
Hawgs Daily10:44 AM
Hogs, Tigers close to renewing hoops rivalryArkansas and Memphis are moving closer to resuming their basketball rivalry.
Hawgs DailyYesterday at 2:46 PM
Diamond Hogs continue climbing in pollsArkansas is moving up in the rankings.
Hawgs DailyYesterday at 12:09 PM
Arkansas losing player to transferA second player is transferring out of the Arkansas basketball program.
Hawgs DailyMonday at 1:44 PM
Arkansas 8, Texas A&M 0Arkansas cruised to a series win over Texas A&M on Saturday.
Hawgs DailySaturday at 12:39 PM