LITTLE ROCK - During the first half of Friday night's Arkansas Specialty Care Tip-Off Classic, University of Arkansas commit Aaron Ross let others take the lead.
But the 6-7, 225-pound Ross scored 17 of his 19 points in the second half as the Arkansas Wings roared past the Compton Magic 107-97 in the opening game of the Real Deal in the Rock.
Ross hit a variety of shots – 3-pointers, mid-range and inside – and showed why the Razorbacks offered him as a ninth grader.
"A lot of people came out to watch us play and I think we were a little nervous at first," Ross said. "I know I was a little nervous playing out here in front of my friends. But we settled down and began to take it to them in the second half."
East Poinsett County's Rashard Madden had a team-high 27 points unofficially to lead the Wing while Little Rock Hall's David Rivers added 21, Jonesboro Westside's Hunter Mickelson 17 and Dumas' Darion Griswold 14.
"We have a very, very good team," Ross said. "We have a lot of talent and just have to play together, hit the boards. Ky (Madden) can score with, Hunter is very good and Darion can really get it going down low."
Ross got his offer from the Razorbacks during the second semester of his freshman year and has never wavered in that pledge.
That's even through the last two 14-16 and 14-18 seasons.
"I am still very cool with Arkansas," Ross said. "Everybody has some bad games and that led to a bad end of the season. But I am sure they are going to get it together next season."
Ross would love for his teammates to join him at Arkansas.
"I am working on that," Ross said.
Madden had 16 of his points in the first half. He played point guard, struggling in the first half against pressure but easing into the role in the second half.
"We hadn't seen a press yet this season and we were kind of shook up there for a minute," Madden said. "But as the game went on, we got adjusted to it and started to score against it."
"I was just trying to get my teammates involved the best that I could," Madden said. "I just want to be the best point guard I can be."
While Madden saw games at Arkansas, Ole Miss, Memphis and Baylor this season, he said he has yet to really narrow down his list.
"Really I don't have a list, I just consider myself open," Madden said. "I'm open to anybody. I'm interested in every school."
Madden does plan to wrap up his recruiting in a timely fashion.
"They will just have to wait and see," Madden said. "I like Arkansas. It is a good school. I am going to look at all the schools and do what is best for me. I will take all my visits in the fall during football season and then sign early."
The Wings play two more pool games – at 8 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. on Saturday before moving into bracket play in the afternoon.
Ross Steps Forward
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