Real Deal In The Rock

In his weekly recruiting column for Hawgs Illustrated, Dudley E. Dawson writes about The Real Deal in the Rock, which will get underway Friday night with the nation's top ranked AAU team battling an Arkansas Hawks team loaded with talent such as Trey Thompson, KeVaughn Allen and Kahron Ross.

Bill Ingram has put on a few Grassroots AAU Tournaments so he knows how to start one with a bang – and that's certainly the case with the opener to this weekend's Real Deal in the Rock.

He'll have the the number one AAU team in the country playing against several of the best players in Arkansas.

as Mac Irvin Fire squad take on an Arkansas Hawks team that will feature Forrest City junior power forward Trey Thompson, North Little Rock sophomore guard KeVaughn Allen, North Little Rock senior Thomas Alexander and Jonesboro junior point guard Kahron Ross.

That game will happen Friday night at 7:30 at P.A.R.K., but Chicago (IL) Whitney Young center Jahlil Okafor (6-10, 260) will not play due to a family issue. "That game is going to be a great way to start off this year's tournament and I don't think you can ask for anything more – the number one player in the country, the number one team going up against some of the great talent we have in Arkansas right now," noted Ingram before hearing of Okafor not being able to attend.

Okafor, an Arkansas native who lived in Fort Smith until middle school and has an offer from the Razorbacks, is being pursued by Duke, Arizona, Kentucky, Illinois, Louisville, North Carolina, Ohio State, Wisconsin and many others.

He is joined on the Mac Irvin Fire roster by 6-9, 230-pound forward fellow 5-star prospect Cliff Alexander.

"That is a loaded team and they deserve their number one ranking," Ingram said. "But I expect us to play a great game as well."

Thompson, who has offers from Arkansas, Florida, Memphis and others, will have a major challenge on his hands while battling the aforementioned duo.

"He is really looking forward to the challenge and hopes to show that he is as good as many of the big men in the country," Ingram said. "I know because he plays over in Eastern Arkansas that a lot of people don't get to see him during the year, but this will be a big stage for him."

No stage has been too big so far for Allen, who is splitting his time this season between the 17-year-old Hawks and the 16-year-old Arkansas Soldierz, who also have North Little Rock two-sport star K.J. Hill.

Allen poured in 49 points in a game last weekend with the Soldierz.

"He is a fantastic player and I know a lot of people loved seeing him play this season as a sophomore and he is just going to be one of the best players in the country when it is all said and done," Allen said. "He is very matured off the court and his game on the court is mature beyond his years."

Ingram believes Ross can be a guard similar to Lee Mayberry, someone he got to meet last year.

"I was talking to Lee last year and telling him that this guys reminds me of him , has watched tapes of him and patterns his game after him," Ingram said. "He got a chance to meet Lee and it was just great to watch that interaction."

Some other players Arkansas is known to have interest in playing in the event are New Oleans Elite forward Craig Victor (6-7, 215), Belmont Shore shooting guard Chris Sandifer (6-4, 195), Dallas Mustangs sophomore point guard Admon Gilder (6-0, 170) and 6-9 sophomore forward Chris Harris of the Houston Superstars. The tournament will continue through Sunday.

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