Photographs by Andy Shupe
A rack of basketballs is shown during halftime of an exhibition game between Arkansas and Missouri Western on Friday, Nov. 3, 2017, in Fayetteville.
Sunday, July 8, 2018
Summer basketball is about to heat up in the month of July, and 17-under Joe Johnson Arkansas Hawks and other Arkansas teams are gearing up for the stretch run.
The Hawks went 21-5 during the spring against some of the best competition in the nation while playing without two key players.
The Hawks -- led by University of Arkansas, Fayetteville point guard commitment Justice Hill, 5-10, of Little Rock Christian -- won their age division in the Real Deal in the Rock for the first time by defeating Georgia-based Game Elite 74-63.
Game Elite was led by point guard Ashton Hagans, 6-3, of Covington, Ga., and guard Josh Nickelberry, 6-3, of Fayetteville, N.C. ESPN rated Hagans the No. 18 prospect and No. 43 nationally at the time of the event. He has since reclassified as a 2018 prospect and signed with Kentucky. Nickelberry committed to Louisville in late May.
Hill held Hagans to five points in the championship game.
The team is dominated by central Arkansas talent.
"That's an indication of why high school basketball is so good in central Arkansas," Hawks Chairman Bill Ingram said.
The Hawks made it to the semifinals of the Adidas Atlanta Memorial Day Classic while defeating Team Carroll, who's currently ranked No. 21 nationally by prephoops.com.
Next on the schedule is the Adidas Gauntlet finals in New York on Thursday through Sunday, followed by the Adidas Summer Championships in Orange County, Calif., on July 18-22. The 17-under and 15-under Hawks will take part in the Super Pool of the FAB 48 in Las Vegas to close out the summer July 26-29.
The Hawks, who were ranked as high as No. 15 nationally at one time, were without forward and Arkansas recruit Tim Ceaser, 6-8, of Marion -- who was recovering from a medial collateral ligament injury -- and guard Branton McCrary, 6-1, of Mills -- who is close to returning from a broken foot he suffered in the Comets' last regular-season game.
July is a busy month for college coaches. There are three evaluation periods -- the 11-15, 18-22 and 25-29 -- where coaches can attend NCAA-sanctioned events to watch prospects.
"Tim Ceaser is arguably a Power 5 player," Ingram said. "He's on schedule to be ready to go July the 11th. I believe by the time we get out to the last tournament in Vegas, he'll be be ready to go."
McCrary -- who averaged 13.4 points, 3 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 2.3 steals for Mills last season -- is getting his share of attention from colleges.
"He's another guy that's a Division I player, probably not a Power 5 player, but a mid-major Division I player," Ingram said.
Guard Issac McBride, 6-0, of Baptist Prep has numerous mid-major offers and is looking to add some Power 5 schools to the list.
"Issac is being recruited by at least five or six Power 5 schools," Ingram said. "They'll probably judge him on what they see in July."
Hawks guard Allen Flanigan, 6-5, of Little Rock Parkview is the son of former University of Arkansas at Little Rock coach and current Auburn assistant Wes Flanigan.
"Allen is a Power 5 guy," Ingram said. "His dad is the head assistant at Auburn, so you would think he would sign with Auburn."
Forward Airion Simmons, 6-5, of Little Rock Parkview has a scholarship offer from Abilene Christian. He has the athleticism and frame to be a sought-after prospect in football if he decided to play on the gridiron.
"He's one of those guys that could probably play football and basketball," Ingram said.
The Hawks and Arkansas-based Woodz Elite will play one another in a showcase game at the FAB 48.
Email Richard Davenport at email@example.com
Sports on 07/08/2018
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