Pearl Heads to Real Deal

With his 2006 class signed and the foundation of his basketball program firmly in place at UT, Bruce Pearl turns his sights toward the future with a trip to The Real Deal on The Hill Tournament this weekend in Fayetteville, Ark.

Pearl is one of many head coaches from big-name schools expected to be in attendance for the three-day hoops extravaganza, that tips off at high noon Friday and concludes Sunday afternoon at Bud Walton Arena .

Some of the other head coaches slated to be at the prospect showcase are Rick Pitino of Louisville, Roy Williams of North Carolina, Billy Donovan of Florida, John Brady of LSU, Mark Gottfried of Alabama, Bill Self of Kansas, Stan Heath of Arkansas, Rick Barnes of Texas (Or is it of N.C. State?), Paul Hewitt of Georgia Tech and Mike Anderson of Missouri.

And what accounts for what could arguably be called the largest gathering of college head coaches for any tournament besides the Final Four?

"There's a reason all these coaches are coming," tournament director Bill Ingram told Todd Kirk in an article published in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. "This will be the best assortment of talent in one year you'll see the rest of the year. After this tournament, most of the tournaments will be divided into the various shoe companies. We have most of the best teams with Reebok and Adidas and a couple of good Nike teams."

Among the premiere prospects playing in the Real Deal are North College Hill of Cincinnati teammates — 6-foot-5, 210-pound small forward Billy Walker and 6-foot-4, 210-pound guard O.J. Mayo.

The next great prospect on the horizon is high school freshman Renaldo Sidney, a 6-10 super athlete who plays all five positions on the floor. Sidney will play for an under-17 team out of Jackson, Miss., appropriately named the NBA Magic, that is competing in what calls "the best tournament in the spring."

Pearl took in the 2005 Real Deal Tournament and watched Bolivar standouts Willie Kemp and Wayne Chism. Kemp signed with Memphis after strongly considering Tennessee, while Chism eventually signed with the Vols. In was in that tournament that Chism took a giant leap as a power forward who held his own with 7-foot center Greg Oden, who was the No. 1 rated overall prospect overall in the Class of 2006.

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