Future Razorback Jordan Phillips piling up the points

By: Dudley E. Dawson
Published: Saturday, January 13, 2018
Jordan Phillips
Jordan Phillips

— With his future college coaches sitting in the stands earlier this week, Arlington, Texas, Grace Prep star and Arkansas signee Jordan Phillips didn’t disappoint.

Phillips (6-7, 210) poured in 35 points and grabbed nine rebounds as Grace Prep (22-5) downed Pantego 59-49 on Tuesday.

He did so with Razorback head coach Mike Anderson and assistant Scotty Thurman on hand, according to Grace Prep head coach Richie Alfred.

“It wasn’t surprising to see him go out and score 24 points and grab 10 rebounds just on his athleticism,” Alfred said, “but he has worked hard at the skill areas and really in the last month I think he has really started to grasp the game and is starting to really play it the way it should be played.

“I am sure Coach Anderson and Coach Thurman loved what they got to see from him.”

Phillips, who is averaging around 26 points and 10 rebounds a game, has topped 27 points in five of his last eight games.

Two of those were 38-point efforts that earned him MVP honors as Grace Prep won its own tournament in December.

He had 17 points on Friday night while playing limited minutes as Grace Prep routed Fort Worth Lake Country Christian 81-30 in a game it led 31-5 at the end of the first quarter.

Phillips and future Razorback teammates Ethan Henderson and Keyshawn Embery were recently three of the 350 or so players nominated to the McDonald’s All-American game, an event that will end up having 24 players selected.

“Jordan has just progressively gotten better as the year goes on,” Alfred said. “I think early on he put himself under a little pressure because of the hype of being a high Division I signee at a great basketball school like Arkansas.

“He has really settled in on his own the last six weeks or so. He had 35 points in the championship game of our own tournament and since that time he has really played well.

“He is improving as a defender, he’s our leading rebounder, he has started to get his teammates involved, his free throw shooting has improved and he is just really coming on as an all-around player to go along with the natural ability he has had all along.”

Grace Prep, which has just 200 students in its high school, chose to take on a challenging early schedule.

“The early part of our schedule was really more difficult than it had been in the past,” Alfred said. “We have five losses to teams that are ranked in the state - two of them are UIL 5A and 6A schools, which means upward of 2,000 students and one of them has around 4,000 students in Duncanville.

“Two of our other losses were to TAPPS 5A and 4A schools and those are schools ranked No. 1 and No. 3 in the state in private school rankings. The fifth loss was to another UIL school that has a player that signed with Tulsa.”

“We have about 200 kids in our high school, so to see us play to the level that we played to is very encouraging.”

One of the wins was the Lions downing Universal City First Baptist Academy 63-62 in four overtimes back on Nov. 20.

Phillips had 21 points and 12 rebounds in the win, but Yafet Alenew pumped in 23 points and Brandon Lawrence added 13 and a game-winning 3-pointer with two seconds left.

“I am sorry to say that I am in my 35th year as a coach and that was the longest game that I have ever been a part of,” Alfred said. “I was exhausted when it was over. It was four overtimes and we had a chance to win in every one of them and they all had bizarre endings. I mean some crazy stuff happened.

“But we grew up a lot that day and it has really benefitted us. The lessons aren’t quite as painful when you win.

“Jordan has been very consistent and when our other kids step up, it is fun to watch and we have had a pretty good season to this point.”

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