THE RECRUITING GUY:

Anderson willing to give 6-8 forward a green light

By: Richard Davenport
Published: Sunday, April 13, 2014
Arkansas coach Mike Anderson directs his players from the bench during the second half of play against Southern Methodist Monday, Nov. 18, 2013, in Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville.
Photo by Andy Shupe
Arkansas coach Mike Anderson directs his players from the bench during the second half of play against Southern Methodist Monday, Nov. 18, 2013, in Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville.

Arkansas is showing strong interest in junior basketball forward Juwan Morgan, who is expected to see his recruiting take off this spring.

His coach, Chris Pilz of Waynesville, Mo., has sent several athletes to the major college level and said Morgan is the best of the bunch.

“I coached Alex Tyus at Florida. I’ve had three go to Mizzou and a couple to Creighton,” Pilz said. “This kid has had the best high school career. He has the opportunity to be big-time.”

Morgan, 6-8, 220 pounds, was named the Ozark Conference’s player of the year and was named to the Class 5 all-state team after leading his team to a 25-2 record.

“Our last six, seven regular-season and playoff games, he probably averaged 26, 27 points and 14 or 15 rebounds,” Pilz said. “He was a really clutch player for us down the stretch.”

Morgan, who has scholarship offers from Tulsa and Missouri State, visited the Hogs on Dec. 12 for the Savannah State game.

“I have a pretty good interest in Arkansas,” Morgan said. “Arkansas is a good school, and they have a good facility. I’m still keeping my options open and learning from the process.”

He has communicated with Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson, associate head coach Melvin Watkins and assistant coach Matt Zimmerman. He said he likes the Hogs’ style of play and what Anderson has told him about the freedom he gives his big men.

“He told me if you have it, then take it,” Morgan said. “All my life that’s how I’ve played.”

Morgan said Zimmerman has made it a point to show him the Razorbacks are interested in him by coming to a few games and a few practices and said he has been impressed with Zimmerman.

“He’s a great guy,” Morgan said. “Every team has that coach that brings down the tension when things are getting too high and makes everybody laugh. He’s like that coach.”

Pilz said he believes Morgan will do well at the next level.

“He has a chance to be a really good player,” Pilz said. “Offensively he can score in all three areas, whether it be midrange or at the basket. He’s very good maneuvering his body at different angles six to eight feet from the basketball.”

COURTING WILDCATS

Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson will welcome point guard Anton Beard to campus this summer and hopes to see his North Little Rock teammate, highly regarded guard KeVaughn Allen, do the same the following summer.

Beard, 6-1, 180 pounds, averaged 19.8 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 3.8 steals per game while leading the Charging Wildcats to a Class 7A state title this season.

“Anton did what we needed him to do: Guard their best player or create shots for everybody else,” North Little Rock Coach Johnny Rice said. “If we needed points, he would go get those. The thing with Anton is he competes every game.”

Rice said Anderson told him the Hogs have to get tougher to be successful on the road. He sees Beard helping in that area.

“Those teams in the 1990s that were consistent winners, he talked about how mentally tough they were and physically tough they were,” Rice said. “Anton will bring that. He doesn’t back down from anything, and his desire to win is through the roof.”

Beard has a good overall game.

“The thing about Anton is he may not be the greatest at anything but he’s good at everything,” Rice said.

Allen, 6-3, 170, was named the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette’s player of the year after averaging 21.0 points, 6.8 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game this season. He has scholarship offers from 10schools, including Arkansas, Florida, Kansas, Connecticut, Memphis, Baylor and Mississippi State.

He was named the Democrat-Gazette’s sophomore of the year after averaging 18.6 points, 6.5 rebounds and 3.2 assists.

“Every statistical category his numbers are better than they were last year,” Rice said. “He’s more of a well-rounded player. We moved him to the point some this year. That helped him develop as a player.”

Rice said Allen never gets too high or too low.

“He’s the most consistent kid I’ve ever seen,” Rice said. “He’s never come into the gym and had a bad day. … He’s the first one on the floor every day, and he’s the last one to leave.”

Allen has said that he plans to take official visits to Arkansas, Kansas and Florida, but he hasn’t given a hint about whether he might join Beard in Fayetteville.

“KeVaughn doesn’t talk about nothing,” Rice said. “His teammates will bring that up every now and then and he’ll smile, but he smiles at every question that you give him. I don’t know where that leads to. I don’t know if KeVaughn really has an idea on what he wants to do.”

E-mail Richard Davenport at rdavenport@arkansasonline.com

Sports, Pages 29 on 04/13/2014

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