THE RECRUITING GUY:

NLR’s Rice puts on show for fans

By: Richard Davenport
Published: Tuesday, December 4, 2012
North Little Rock guard KeVaughn Allen (center), the nation’s No. 26 sophomore prospect by future150.com, created the biggest buzz after scoring 28 points in a variety of ways in the Charging Wildcats’ 74-42 victory over Memphis East. Allen has scholarship offers from Arkansas, Connecticut, Memphis, Baylor, Mississippi State and others.
North Little Rock guard KeVaughn Allen (center), the nation’s No. 26 sophomore prospect by future150.com, created the biggest buzz after scoring 28 points in a variety of ways in the Charging Wildcats’ 74-42 victory over Memphis East. Allen has scholarship offers from Arkansas, Connecticut, Memphis, Baylor, Mississippi State and others.

— The Battle of the Border at Little Rock Hall on Saturday showcased nationally ranked prospects from every class level of high school, from freshman to senior.

North Little Rock guard KeVaughn Allen, the nation’s No. 26 sophomore prospect by future150.com, created the biggest buzz after scoring 28 points in a variety of ways in the Charging Wildcats’ 74-42 victory over Memphis East.

“When he’s hitting his perimeter shot like he was hitting from the perimeter ... he’s very hard to guard,” North Little Rock Coach Johnny Rice said of Allen’s performance on Saturday.

Allen, 6-3, 170 pounds, scored 20 of the 28 in the first half and didn’t play in the fourth period with Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson and associate head Coach Melvin Watkins in attendance.

Battle of the Border Director Bill Ingram said onlookers were comparing Allen to former Hogs and current NBA players Ronnie Brewer and Joe Johnson.

“Most people think he’s more advanced than they were in the 10th grade,” Ingram said. “They have a lot similarities. Neither one of them were quite as athletic as he is. I think his athleticism is much better than theirs. He dominated the game without taking a lot of shots, without hogging the ball.”

Rice said Allen, who has scholarship offers from Arkansas, Connecticut, Memphis, Baylor, Mississippi State and others, is a delight to coach.

“I’ve grown up in North Little Rock and I played at North Little Rock,” Rice said. “I’ve coached for 22 years in North Little Rock, and he’s the most humble and coachable kid I’ve ever been around.”

Ingram, the chairman of the Arkansas Hawks basketball organization and executive director of Real Deal in the Rock basketball tournament, said Allen excelled while playing for the 17-under Hawks this summer in Las Vegas.

“He had 26 in the semifinal game and that’s a 17-year old game,” Ingram said. “He was a ninth grader.”

Rice said Allen’s leaping ability sets him apart.

“He’s the most explosive kid, especially off of one foot,” Rice said. “He might be the most explosive kid we’ve had come through here. He jumps at a different level than what I’ve seen.”

COMMITTING TO VISITS

Even though Arkansas still hasn’t named head coach, another top prospect, athlete Jalen Ortiz, said he plans to make an official visit to Arkansas.

Ortiz, 5-9, 172, 4.43 seconds in the 40-yard dash, of Peoria, (Ariz.) Centennial High School is committed to UCLA but said offensive line coach Chris Klenakis has convinced him to check out the Hogs.

“We’ve built a good relationship over the past couple of years,” Ortiz said. “He stopped by the school on Thursday and then we talked. He talked about how on next Thursday when he talks to me he said hopefully by then we’ll know who the new head coach is going to be.”

Ortiz, who has officially visited UCLA and Utah, said his Jan. 11-13 visit to Fayetteville will probably be his last visit. He rushed 142 times for 1,187 yards and 14 touchdowns as a junior, recorded 128 carries for 1,401 yards, 12 touchdowns and 32 receptions for 501 yards and 5 touchdowns as a senior.

The Razorback program and SEC affiliation keep him interested.

“It’s just a great school, plus it’s in the SEC so obviously that’s a big thing.” Ortiz said.

E-mail Richard Davenport at rdavenport@arkansasonline.com

Sports, Pages 20 on 12/04/2012

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