Last Saturday, during Arkansas’ 73-71 win against Missouri, Hog fans glimpsed on the court of Bud Walton Arena what they hope will become a common occurrence in the future – a scrambling, clawing squad which regularly knocks out the best SEC teams.
A critical part of that future might have also been glimpsed among the fans themselves. Two Razorback recruits who rank among the nation’s best guards in their classes attended the game, according to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette’s Richard Davenport. Freshman Adrian Moore (6-4, 170 pounds) of Conway is ranked by Future150.com as the No. 4 shooting guard in his class. Sophomore Kevaughn Allen (6-3, 170) of North Little Rock is ranked as the No. 7 shooting guard. Last summer, ESPN ranked him as the nation’s No. 21 player in the class of 2015. Arkansas has already offered scholarships to both players.
I caught up with Allen, along with some of the state’s other top guards, in a feature article for this week’s Sync magazine. Allen has roughly 15 scholarships offers, from schools like Florida, Nebraska, Connecticut and Louisville. So far, he’s taken three unofficial visits: Arkansas, Baylor and Mississippi State. Allen doesn’t yet have a Top 5 or anything like that, but says his favorite player is former Razorback and Little Rock native Joe Johnson. Allen met Johnson after seeing him play at the Dunbar Summer Recreational Basketball League.
I also profiled Little Rock Parkview junior Anton Beard, who recently reopened his recruitment after decommitting from Missouri. “I just wanted to see all my options,” the 6-0 combo guard said. “I think I committed a little bit too early. Me and my family decided that wasn’t what was best.” His Parkview coach, Al Flangian, added one factor in Beard’s decision was uncertainty swirling around the future of the Mizzou basketball program and its head coach Frank Haith. Haith had long faced allegations of unethical conduct stemming from his previous job at Miami. A Miami booster and convicted felon, Nevin Shapiro, alleged he paid $10,000 to the family of a Hurricane recruit during Haith’s 2004-11 Miami stint.
Haith has steadfastly denied knowledge of Shapiro’s payment, but for more than a year and a half there loomed the possibility the NCAA would still charge him with “unethical conduct,” which might have cost the Mizzou program by taking away future scholarships or postseason tournament eligibility. Last night, a week after Beard’s decision, Haith told ESPN he can breathe easier because the charge he now faces has been downgraded to “failure to promote an atmosphere of compliance.”
Beard, meanwhile, is considering a host of programs, including LSU, Tennessee, Georgia Tech, Memphis, Florida State, Mississippi State and Arkansas. Of the Hogs, Beards said “I think it’s a great program. That’s always gonna be one of my options and I think what Mike Anderson’s doing with the team is very good.”
He added: “It’s a great school to be at. Nothing negative I’ve heard about it yet.” If Beard does choose Arkansas, he may be the first point guard from one of the state’s celebrated prep programs – Little Rock Parkview – to play for its most celebrated college program.
His good friend and high school teammate, Imara Ready, may influence his final decision. Ready, a senior guard, has signed with Mississippi State (where Wes Flanigan, the son of Al Flanigan, is an assistant coach). Beard said the chance to rejoin Ready in a college backcourt is plus for the Bulldogs.
The other prep player I profiled was North Little Rock’s senior point guard Dayshawn Watkins, who signed with the University of Alabama-Birmingham.
Below are the most recent available per-game averages for all four outstanding guards:
2011-12: 16.5 points, 2.3 steals, 2.56 assists and 4.3 rebounds
55.8% on FG, 29.4% on 3-Pters, 65.7% FT
2012-13: 23 points, 2.5 steals, 3 assists, 5.8 rebounds
2011-12: 17 points, 3 steals, 2.93 assists, 1.8 rebounds
55.8% on FG, 29.3% on 3-Pters, 85% FT
2012-13: 18.67 points, 3.4 steals, 4.9 assists
2011-12: 13.5 points
2012-13: Roughly 18 points and 7 assists
2012-13: Roughly 18 points, 3.5 assists and 6 rebounds and 1.8 “make-yo-mama-wince” dunks
n.b. OK, you got me. I made that “1.8” number up. Still, I’m pretty sure this young gun gets more than one dunk a game – including some where he nearly hits his head on the rim. [click through the photo gallery at the bottom of this page for proof]