Sure, Ohio State, North Carolina and now Washington are putting together great recruiting classes in 2006 but don't forget about Arkansas. Head coach Stan Heath and his staff are putting together another stellar group in Fayetteville and it starts with two guys that call Arkansas home and a versatile guard from one of the top high school teams in the country. Also consider the fact that Razorbacks might just hit pay dirt with a verbal commitment from Thaddeus Young. The SEC school is sizzling.
Arkansas hasn't underestimated the value of a good junior college transfer. Check that, a great junior college transfer. The Razorbacks landed Sonny Weems, the nation's top JUCO prospect over the weekend. He picked the SEC school over offers from some of the nation's top programs. And that is the tune several other prospects are singing this year in the class of 2006.
Weems, the No. 1 rated player in the country in the JUCO ranks by JucoJunction.com, has already found his way onto the NBA radar screen after a stellar season at Arkansas-Fort Smith. The West Memphis, Ark., native has the size, skills and body that will bode well in the SEC from day one.
Weems also visited Tennessee, Oklahoma State, Baylor, Oklahoma and Memphis but decided he wanted to stay close to home. Heath and his staff were certainly happy to oblige.
The Razorbacks landed a major coup when Arkansas naitve Michael Washington decided to return home after two years in Texas for prep school. The 6-foot-10 forward is one of the most intriguing big men in the country says Rivals.com national scout Jerry Meyer and Arkansas was able to steer him away from some of the top programs in the country.
"It's always important to fight off the high profile national programs to keep a high profile prospect at home and that is what Arkansas did with Michael Washington," Meyer said. "A late bloomer who reclassified, Washington caught the eye of the top programs in the Big 12 and the SEC. He is a long power forward who can run and jump with the best of them. Along with being able to score facing the basket and with his back to the basket, Washington can also guard multiple positions. He has the tools to develop into a NBA player if he can put it all together at Arkansas."
That is just the thing Arkansas fans want to hear. And when Stefan Welsh picked Arkansas over interest from other SEC schools as well as the ACC and Big East, Fayetteville was ecstatic.
The 6-foot-3, 180-pound combo guard is prepping at Hargrave Military Academy and fine tuning his point guard skills amongst the best teams in the country. Meyer believes Welsh can help out Heath in a number of ways.
"A strong two-sport athlete, Welsh loves to compete and has the ability to knock down a big jumper from the wing," Meyer said of the highly-touted wide receiver/guard. "That is a skill the Arkansas program has lacked. He is an all around player, who is also serviceable as a point guard."
Now with Weems on board, the attention shifts to Thaddeus Young, the nation's most versatile player and No. 3 prospect overall in the country. The Memphis native had his best showing on the AAU circuit at the University of Arkansas back in April at the Real Deal on the Hill. Is that just good Razorback karma? They certainly hope so.
Young is also considering North Carolina, Georgia Tech, Memphis and Kentucky.
This class of 2006 group is a continuation of the recruiting classes put together by the Arkansas staff over the last couple of years.
Remember, it was only two years ago when Heath signed Al Jefferson and four-star prospects Steven Hill and Charles Thomas. They also added Dontell Jefferson and Darian Townes.
Not a bad group considering the duo of Olu Famutimi and Ronnie Brewer, who had signed a year earlier in 2003.
If Young does pick Arkansas, don't be surprised to see this group amongst the top five in the country.