THE RECRUITING GUY:

Hogs’ basketball signees championship material

By: Richard Davenport
Published: Sunday, March 23, 2014
Forrest City forward Trey Thompson signs his national letter of intent Wednesday.
Photo by Tim Cooper
Forrest City forward Trey Thompson signs his national letter of intent Wednesday.

Arkansas’ three men’s basketball signees had outstanding senior seasons and will give Coach Mike Anderson more weapons going into next season.

Forrest City forward Trey Thompson, 6-9, 260 pounds, led the Mustangs to a 24-4 record and the Class 5A state title and was named MVP of the state tournament.

“I wanted a championship so bad,” Thompson said. “I would’ve done anything to get there. I left as a champion in my last game as a Mustang, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.”

Thompson, who is rated by ESPN as the No. 31 power forward in the nation, said he became more of a leader over the past two years.

“This year I tried to go out and set an example and go out and work hard so my teammates could follow my lead,” Thompson said. “I did that, and we came out with a championship.”

Forrest City Coach Dwight Lofton said an October discussion he had with Thompson helped the future Razorback buy into the championship mind-set.

“I told Trey, ‘If you’re going to be a Razorback, one thing that all those guys have on their resume is a state championship,’ ” Lofton said. “Bobby Portis, Ky Madden, [Fred] Gulley, all of those guys have that in the media guide.

“He really bought into that.”

Thompson averaged 17 points, almost 10 rebounds and about 4 assists per game.

“He led us in assists, led us in rebounding and led us in scoring,” Lofton said. “He really grew into the type of player you would hope your senior would be.”

Thompson’s ability to pass the ball will serve him well in college in Mike Anderson’s system.

“You’re doubling Trey, and really Trey’s strength is finding the open man, finding the cutter, and teams never figured that out all year,” Lofton said. “That’s the thing people underestimate, and Coach Anderson understands he has such a high basketball IQ.”

Many prospects in football and basketball like to get their college decision out of the way before their senior seasons, and Lofton said Thompson and the team benefited from his early decision.

“That really freed him up,” Lofton said. “His concentration was strictly on us being the best ball club thatwe could be. Not having to deal with that throughout the season was instrumental in us being able to achieve what we did.”

Thompson, who plans to report to Arkansas in early June, will get a workout plan from Razorbacks strength and conditioning coach David Deets.

“He told me he would send me a six-week workout plan,” Thompson said. “He said when I get up there he’s going to put more muscle on me and lean me up.”

Being homesick shouldn’t be an issue for Thompson. He said playing for the Arkansas Hawks during the spring and summer over the years helped him get accustomed to being away from home.

“Since the sixth grade, I practically have been staying in Little Rock during the spring and summer,” Thompson said. “This time last year I was in Little Rock getting ready for Real Deal, practicing every weekend all summer.”

HOGS GET ‘A STEAL’

Arlington Martin guard Nick Babb, who signed with Arkansas in November, was named the District 3-5A MVP in Texas and has been selected to play in the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches All-Star Game on May 16 in San Antonio.

Babb, 6-4, 180 pounds, averaged 13.5 points, 7 rebounds, 5.2 assist and 2.4 steals per game while shooting 51 percent from the field, 43 percent from beyond the three-point line and 67 percent from the free-throw line. ESPN rates him the No. 36 shooting guard in the nation.

“Nick is a complete player, and it has been a privilege to have coached him the last four years,” Arlington Martin Coach Jeff Plemons said. “He is a leader on and off the floor.

“Arkansas has gotten a complete steal in Nick Babb. I think he will have an immediate impact once he is on campus.”

BEARD A CHAMP, TOO

North Little Rock point guard Anton Beard, 6-1, 180, led the charging Wildcats to the Class 7A state title, averaging 19.8 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 3.8 steals per game.

ESPN rates Beard as the No. 19 point guard and the No. 90 overall prospect in the nation.

Beard scored 29 points in an 89-81 victory over Springdale in the state championship game and was named the game’s MVP.

E-mail Richard Davenport at rdavenport@arkansasonline.com

Sports, Pages 30 on 03/23/2014

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