Mickelson Meets O'Bryant

In a match-up of 6-10 junior forwards that had Arkaansas head coach John Pelphrey on hand to watch, Hunter Mickelson's Jonesboro Westside squad downs Johnny O'Bryant's Cleveland (MS) Eastside one 46-42 Thursday at the Rumble on the Ridge at Forrest City.

FORREST CITY – After a practice and Thanksgiving lunch, University of Arkansas head basketball coach John Pelphrey saw a couple of future frontline difference makers that he would no doubt love to see wearing Razorback Red.

Jonesboro Westside junior forward Hunter Mickelson (6-10, 190) had 17 points, 8 rebounds and 3 blocks as his team downed Cleveland (MS) Eastside 46-42 Thursday at the Rumble on the Ridge.

Eastside junior Johnny O'Bryant (6-10, 205) who like Mickelson is regarded as one of the nation's top 15 forwards in the 2011 class, had 20 points, 10 rebounds and 3 blocks.

"I know when there are two really good players it is going to naturally blow up to a one-on-one thing, but it's five-on-five and that's what it was when it ended up and I wasn't in there."

Indeed both Mickelson and O'Bryant both ended the game on the bench after fouling out.

Bryant got 6 of his points after Mickelson fouled out with 1:21 left in the game and Westside up 40-34.

The Eastside star's final two points were a pair of free throws with 18.9 seconds left that cut it to 43-42 and then he fouled out two seconds later.

"We just didn't get going quick enough," O'Bryant said. "We didn't panic coming out of the locker room, but just really didn't get it going until the fourth quarter."

J.T Northier hit a pair of free throws off that foul and Brett Huffstedler than hit one with 4 seconds left to cap the scoring and put Mickelson out of some pain.

"It really hit me when I was walking over toward the bench like that," Mickelson said. "I knew I had faith in my team, but the way the game was unfolding I just felt like I had to be in there. But my teammates came out and seal it up without me and that was great."

Westside moves to 4-0 with the win while Eastside drops to 2-3.

"I feel like I am playing pretty well and I was happy we came out and got the win today," Mickelson said. "It's a pretty big tournament with a lot of talented players."

Mickelson has offers from Arkansas, Ole Miss, Baylor, Kentucky and Florida.

Pelphrey and Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy were in the stands on Thursday afternoon.

"I really don't have a top two or anything like that yet," Mickelson said. "I am still weighing m options."

He did break down the programs of the Razorbacks and Rebels.

"Arkansas is a young team, but I love their coach and he is really good," Mickelson said. "I have been to their camps and really like the way he coaches and lays things out. I think it would really help me out a lot to go up there.

"Ole Miss they really work hard like Arkansas and they've got a new gym (practice facility) for their players to better develop their games," Mickelson said. "It is all high tech and it sets up really well for players."

Westside coach Mark Whitmire loves having Mickelson around.

"He is unbelievable," Whitmire said. "He works hard, he listens. When you have a great player, sometimes they don't want to listen, but he listens so well…His shot is developing, his footwork is better, he is just a great all-around player."

O'Bryant has offers from Arkansas, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Memphis, Kentucky, Harvard and Baylor.

"I probably won't end it until the last part of my senior year," O'Bryant said.

As far as Arkansas, the Razorbacks have a player in current point guard Julysess Nobles and assistant coach in Isaac Brown that have peaked O'Bryant's interest.

"They are a great team and they have Julysess Nobles, who was a great player in Mississippi," O'Bryant said. "It would be fun to get up there and play with him. I also really like Coach Brown so it is a school I am definitely going to look at hard."

Eastside head Leroy Cotton believes he has an humble and hungry superstar on his hands.

"He has worked really, really hard on his all-around game and he is just naturally a good athlete and runs the floor well," Cotton said. "He has gotten his jump shot a lot better than it was and he is actually able to bring the ball up against pressure.

"…He has stayed humble throughout the process and is very, very hungry and wants to be the best player that he possibly can be," Cotton said. "He is definitely already a good one and is just improving month-to-month."





Johnny O'Bryant


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