Why Tyler Scaife Ultimately Chose Rutgers over Arkansas, Tennessee, Baylor et al

Latest SLAM issue profiles nation's top-ranked PG out of Little Rock.
Latest SLAM issue profiles nation’s top-ranked PG out of Little Rock.

Franklyn Calle has a nice article in SLAM magazine on the most dominant guard in recent Arkansas basketball history.

He talked to Tyler Scaife, Little Rock High’s McDonald All-American, about why she chose Rutgers over the likes of Tennessee and Baylor. Turns out, Scaife’s favorite player is Cappie Pondexter, the 5-9 Rutgers alum who in 2011 was voted as one of the top 15 players in WNBA history. Scaife, who also stands 5-9, told Calle: “[Rutgers] Coach Stringer does a great job of molding guards and putting them in the WNBA. I felt that Rutgers fit my style of play.”

Scaife will try to finish her high school career in style by bringing Hall a long-awaited title in the state playoffs over the next week and a half. In 2011-12, Scaife averaged 25.2 points, 5.9 rebounds, 5.2 assists and 3.7 steals but Hall finished the season at 23-6 after losing in the 7A state semifinals to Fort Smith Northside. This year, Scaife’s numbers had dropped through early February (24 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 3.8 apg, 3.1 steals and 1 block) but in recent weeks she has ramped up her performance as her team has steamrolled to a 26-2 record and #1 state ranking.

Depending on how Hall finishes this season, Scaife could have a legit argument to be the best female player in state history. As I see it, her main competition for this designation is Shekinna Stricklin, who was a force of nature at Morrilton High 2005-08. Stricklin, like Scaife, won two Gatorade player of the year honors to go along with the McDonald’s All-American honor. Here are some other Stricklin benchmarks Scaife will be measured against:

  • Named all-state and all-conference all four years of her high school career
  • Started in all 120 games played and totaled 2,690 points, 1,400 rebounds, 726 assists, 474 steals and 605 blocked shots
  • Had 45 points, 14 rebounds and eight assists in the 2008 state finals her senior year
  • Parade Magazine All-America Second Team (2008) and Third Team (2007)
  • 2008 USA Today All-USA First Team
  • The 2006 MVP of the Arkansas State AAAA championships after her 30-point, 16-rebound, four-assist and four-block performance in the championship game to lead Morrilton to the title

Check out this month’s issue of SLAM  (Russell Westbrook cover) for the complete Scaife article. 


I just got this insight from longtime Arkansas sportswriter Walter Woodie. The man has seen plenty of good ball in his day:

Before you call her the best in the 5-on-5 era, you might want to think about Wendy Schoeltens of FS Southside.
 All-American at Vandy, played in Europe/Asia before WNBA. Also in Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame. Besides Stricklin, do not forget Hot Springs’ Shemeka Christon, who was the SEC Player of the Year at Arkansas.
She is in the argument, yes, but not the best. At least, not yet.

Exclusive Q&A w/ Bobby Portis, Arkansas’ Best Big Man Since Corliss

Bobby Portis learned the art of rebounding from Corliss Williamson. Courtesy: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Bobby Portis learned the art of rebounding from Corliss Williamson. Courtesy: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Big man Bobby Portis is new school. He shoots threes, leads fast breaks and has a shoe collection as diverse as his game. Off the court, he rocks the same nerd-chic glasses and bow tie swag Kevin Durant has helped popularize in the NBA.

But when Portis takes his game to Fayetteville next season, it’s the promise of returning Arkansas to old school glory that most excites Hogs fans. Portis, after all, is the state’s best big man since his former coach Corliss Williamson. He’s already followed Williamson’s lead by leading the Arkansas Wings to an AAU national championship. The 6-10 senior center may also be the most dominant player from Little Rock Hall High since Sidney Moncrief, another Razorback All-American.

Portis, we find out, fully embraces the legacy of all his schools – past, present and future:

Q: Let’s get this out of the way first. You’ve been known to wear some crazy, neon-colored shoes on the court. How many do you have and why do you wear them?

A: I have Nike shoes in the neon pink, orange, blue, red and green.
It’s just a different style. I like to wear different types of colored shoes, you know. It’s nothing serious. My mom sees the shoes, so she buys them.

Q: Who is most responsible for helping you develop as a post player?

A: When I was little, it was Corliss Williamson. He taught me a lot. But then he moved on to coach UCA and couldn’t coach us [in AAU] anymore. Then I started working out with Marcus McCarroll. He’s in athletic trainer here in Little Rock, and he’s also a part of the Wings.  He really helped improve my post game.

Continue reading Exclusive Q&A w/ Bobby Portis, Arkansas’ Best Big Man Since Corliss

One of nation’s top prep point guards leads Little Rock Hall to 88-0 win

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reporter Tim Cooper’s didn’t expect history to be made when he covered the first round of a Little Rock prep basketball tournament on Monday night. In  the midst of back-to-back games, he headed to the locker room to interview coaches from the first game. He ended up waiting a few minutes longer than expected.

Little did Cooper know that by the time he returned to the floor, three and a half minutes into the second game, the home team L.R. Hall High would be up 28-0.  It didn’t promise to get much better. Little Rock Fair, which hasn’t won since the 2008-09 season, dressed out only six players for Monday’s season opener. None of the girls on its normal 11-person roster are taller than 5-8. Hall, meanwhile, has one of the state’s strongest teams boasting possibly the nation’s top prep point guard in Tyler Scaife.  What’s more, Hall had built its early lead without even employing a full-court defense.

With such a talent, size and depth disparity, “this game should have never been played,” Cooper said in a Tuesday  interview with 103.7 FM’s “The Zone.” So, with any question of the eventual victor all but answered, the only remaining drama applied to when Fair would first score.

That drama lasted. And lasted.

Fair’s players had their shots, but more of their attempts hit the shot clock above the backboard than the rim, Cooper recalled on 103.7 FM.

“I told our girls to ‘play soft,’ and that’s something I don’t like to do,” Hall Coach Selita Farr told Cooper for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. “I don’t like to ask kids to turn their game on and off like that.” Minutes into the game, Farr told her players to defend only the area inside the three-point line.

Continue reading One of nation’s top prep point guards leads Little Rock Hall to 88-0 win

Clash of the Titans: A Jacksonville and Hall video grab bag


Hall won 47-43, after not leading until 1:15 into the third quarter. Aaron Walton, little brother to Baylor point guard A.J. Walton, scored 11 of 13 points in the second half. If the score wasn’t enough of an indication, the stats back it up: defenses dominated this game. Neither shot more than 40% FG, and they combined for 3-of-16 on 3-pointers.

Read more at ARPreps.com.

Every week, it seems Little Rock Hall High is one half of the equation in the latest game of the week.

That’s what happens when the last time you lost was December 6th. Since that loss against North Little Rock, though, Hall has not played a hotter team in a more hostile environment than Jacksonville. True, the Warriors already beat the Red Devils by 13 points, but don’t let silly Maxpreps fool ya’ – that Jan. 5 game was very much in Little Rock. Since that loss, Jacksonville has been on a tear all its own – walloping the likes of Parkview, Jonesboro and West Memphis. Get a preview of this game and others at the latest ARPreps.com prepscast.

In the last few weeks, Hall has become the favorite in these CenArk Top-5 clashes as it surges to the top of the 7A/6A East. But tonight in Lonoke County, Jacksonville has its best shot at stealing momentum from the defending champs.

Here are some clips to get you ready:

Physically, nobody in state can deal with Bobby Portis. But can the Red Devils’ home court crazies unnerve Hall’s star center?

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z0yR1pAyWSg&w=560&h=315]

It should be fun watching Jacksonville’s Justin McCleary match up with Hall perimeter players such as Dauda Berete:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W2PpG0zz1RE&w=560&h=315]

Let’s not forget about the girls game, which also promises to be an intense match up with plenty of talent on the floor:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rt_2rff61m0&w=560&h=315]