Richard Davenport covers recruiting for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. He is the host of Recruiting Thursday, a weekly radio show that airs from 7 to 8 p.m. on 92.1 FM in Fayetteville; 93.7 FM in Little Rock; 95.3 FM in Fort Smith; 96.3 FM in Hot Springs; 104.3 FM in Harrison/Mountain Home; and 106.9 FM in Arkadelphia.
THE RECRUITING GUY:
Battle of the Border loaded with top talent
Arkansas signee Bobby Portis, a Little Rock Hall senior, is one of several notables who will participate in the Battle of the Border.
LITTLE ROCK The second Battle of the Border on Saturday at Little Rock Hall will feature some of the nation’s best basketball talent, including several prospects being sought by Arkansas.
The event pits five teams from central Arkansas against five teams from the Memphis area. Central Arkansas teams went 4-0 against Memphis teams last year, but the competition will be much stiffer this year, event director Bill Ingram said.
“If Arkansas doesn’t come to play, we may not win a game,” Ingram said. “It will be totally different from what we saw last year.”
The first matchup is Little Rock McClellan and Memphis Lausanne Collegiate School at 1 p.m. Eighth-grade power forward Isaiah Stokes, the younger brother of Tennessee power forward Jarnell Stokes, will lead Lausanne against McClellan senior point guard Terrance Jones and junior small forward Jason Hendrix.
Jacksonville, with senior point guard Justin McCleary and senior center Keith Charleston, will take on Olive Branch, Miss., led by senior point guard Sam Craft at 3 p.m. Olive Branch advanced to the final of the Mississippi state championship last season, Ingram said.
Little Rock Parkview and Memphis Hamilton will go at it at 4:30 p.m. The Patriots feature point guard I.J. Ready, who has signed with Mississippi State, and junior point guard Anton Beard, who has committed to Missouri. Hamilton will counter with brothers Dedric and K.J. Lawson. Future150.com rates Dedric Lawson, a freshman power forward, as the No. 20 prospect in his class and K.J. Lawson, a sophomore small forward, as the No. 21 prospect in his class.
North Little Rock and Memphis East square off at 6 p.m. Small forward Nick King, who is rated the No. 13 player in the country by ESPN, leads Memphis East. North Little Rock is led by guard KeVaughn Allen, the No. 26 prospect in the 2015 class according to future150.com, and point guard Dayshawn Watkins, who has signed with Alabama-Birmingham.
Two top-15 prospects from the 2013 and 2014 classes will go head-to-head in the feature game that tips off at 8:30 p.m.. Little Rock Hall power forward Bobby Portis, an Arkansas signee who is rated by ESPN as the nation’s No. 11 recruit for the 2013 class, will go up against Memphis White Station junior small forward LeRon Black, who is ranked by ESPN as the No. 10 prospect nationally in his class.
Memphis White Station senior point guard Chris Chiozza is drawing strong interest from Arkansas, and junior guard Davell Roby already has a scholarship offer from Arkansas.
“LeRon Black is licking his chops to play against Bobby,” Ingram said. “That will be some matchup.”
Ingram said Memphis sees central Arkansas’ high school talent in a different light after going winless in last year’s event.
“About four or five years ago, Memphis didn’t look at us as an equal in basketball,” Ingram said. “All that has changed. They came here last year and lost four games, but the group of teams we’re bringing in this year is 10 times better than what we saw last year.
“Matter of fact, we were running through that list and we have probably four potential NBA players along with a whole host of BCS basketball players.”
Fayetteville quarterback Austin Allen, an Arkansas commitment who will lead the Bulldogs against Bentonville in the Class 7A state title game Saturday at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock, has been named Gatorade’s Arkansas Football Player of the Year.
Allen, 6-2, 218 pounds, 4.7 seconds in the 40-yard dash, has completed 214 of 338 passes for 3,395 yards and 29 touchdowns and has 9 rushing touchdowns.
His selection also makes him a finalist for Gatorade’s national player of the year award.
E-mail Richard Davenport at
Sports, Pages 24 on 11/30/2012