The Recruiting Guy:

Familiarity with Neighbors helps land guard

By: Richard Davenport
Published: Tuesday, June 26, 2018
TCU guard Amber Ramirez (4) celebrates a basket against Texas in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018, in Fort Worth, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
TCU guard Amber Ramirez (4) celebrates a basket against Texas in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018, in Fort Worth, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

University of Arkansas, Fayetteville women's basketball Coach Mike Neighbors landed the program's fourth-ever McDonald's All-American on Saturday when TCU transfer guard Amber Ramirez committed to the Hogs.

Ramirez, 5-8, starred at San Antonio Wagner High School and played in the 2016 McDonald's All-American Game before signing with TCU. As a senior, ESPN rated her a 5-star recruit, the No. 2 guard and No. 11 overall prospect in nation.

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She announced in April her intentions to leave TCU after playing two seasons in Fort Worth. Ramirez pledged to Neighbors just hours after arriving in Fayetteville for her official visit that ended Sunday.

"I just like Coach Neighbors and coming up on the visit, I basically solidified the deal of me wanting to be a Razorback," Ramirez said. "He's honest with everything that he says. He just gives me confidence and I just felt like that's where I need to be."

Neighbors recruited Ramirez while at Washington.

"I've known Coach Neighbors probably since my freshman year," Ramirez said.

Ramirez averaged 26 points, 3.0 assists, 5.0 rebounds and 2.5 steals as a senior and finished her career with 2,769 points, the second-most in San Antonio history. She was a semifinalist for the Naismith High School Player of the Year and a third-team Naismith All-American as a senior.

Neighbors' ability helped Washington guard Kelsey Plum become the National Player of the Year and the NCAA's all-time leading scorer, accolades that also attracted Ramirez.

"I feel like me and Kelsey Plum who he coached at Washington have a lot of similarities," Ramirez said. "He has already coached someone similar to me, so I feel he's going to do what he did for Kelsey, for me."

Ramirez will sit out the 2018-19 season and have two years of eligibility as a Razorback starting in the 2019-20 season.

So during the offseason just work on everything I need to work on, and make sure I'm ready for the next season," Ramirez said.

She said she liked the campus, the facilities and the people at Arkansas.

"Every facility we visited was amazing from the academic center to the gym to the Jerry Jones center," she said. "Everything is just so nice. Everybody we met was so friendly. Everywhere we went Coach Neighbors knew somebody and I got to meet somebody new every time."

She also shined on the international stage while helping USA Basketball medals in the summer of 2016. Ramirez's trust in Neighbors made it an easy decision to finish out her college career in Fayetteville.

"That was probably one of the biggest things coming into Arkansas, I've known him for a long time," Ramirez said. "He's proved everything he could do for players like me and then just coming on the visit and he just reiterated that he wants the same thing he wanted for me at Washington now. That just builds so much confidence in me and gives me the trust in him that we're going to do big things at Arkansas."

Ramirez, who can play the point or shooting guard, started 23 of 36 games for TCU as a sophomore last season and averaged 10.3 points, 1.8 rebounds and 2.8 assists while shooting 42 percent on three-pointers.

"I'm a confident shooter, I shoot the three ball very well," said Ramirez, who made 131 three-pointers as a senior in high school. "I like to score the basketball,l and then get after it on the defensive end as well. If someone asked what's your strong point, I would have to say scoring the basketball. I like to get my teammates involved."

E-mail Richard Davenport at rdavenport@arkansasonline.com

Sports on 06/26/2018

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