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:
Bentonville's Dauda impressed with Neighbors' program
Fayetteville vs Bentonville Girls Varsity Basketball - Maryam Dauda (30) drives to the basket for two points against Fayetteville at Tiger Arena in Bentonville, Ark., on Friday, February 14, 2020.
The nation’s top post player in the 2021 class has visited Arkansas several times, and the Razorbacks have made a favorable impression on her.
Maryam Dauda, 6-4, of Bentonville, is an ESPN 4-star prospect, the No. 1 post player and No. 22 overall recruit in the country.
She made her first visit to Fayetteville to checkout Arkansas coach Mike Neighbors’ program during the spring of her freshman year.
“I really feel comfortable with the players and the coaching staff and coach Neighbors,” said Dauda, who has visited Arkansas about four other times. “I felt welcomed the first time I went there on a visit and it felt like home.”
Dauda’s time with the players gave her insight into the program.
“I felt like they were really open, and I got to know them. I got to talk to them outside of the court and got to know more about the coaches from their perspective,” Dauda said.
She has also visited Missouri, but other trips are on hold.
“I haven’t thought about that yet because I’m currently focused on the high school season, so after the season I’ll think about visiting other colleges,” Dauda said.
She is averaging 16 points, 8 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game while averaging 21 minutes for the Tigers (23-1), a team that is ranked No. 2 in the state by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Dauda had 13 points, 5 rebounds, 7 blocks, 4 assists and 2 steals in Bentonville's 68-41 victory over Rogers on Friday with Neighbors sitting courtside.
Dauda has accumulated approximately 10 scholarship offers from schools such as Arkansas, Tennessee, Baylor, UCLA, Missouri, Texas and others. Originally from Nigeria, she has lived in Arkansas for about five years.
“She's been in the Untied States since the sixth grade. She didn't play basketball until she got here,” Bentonville coach Tom Halbmaier said.
Moving to another country is usually a challenge at a young age, but Dauda said she adjusted pretty easily.
“I felt like I fit in with everybody,” she said. “I felt welcomed by all my teachers and my friends, so it wasn't overwhelming.”
Food and the seven-hour time difference was the toughest thing to overcome.
“Here, there’s a lot of fried stuff," she said.
Halbmaier said Dauda has a lot of strengths on the hardwood.
“Her eye-hand coordination is off the charts,” he said. “Probably one of the best big girls to shoot the perimeter ball. She has range. I’ve never coached a player that’s had so many and-1s this year. She just has the ability to finish. She’s able to elevate. She has a 24-inch vertical.”
Dauda, whose father is 6-7, is looking to study business in college. She hopes to see early playing time at the next level.
“I want to go to a place that I know when I get there as a freshman I would get quite a bit of playing time as a freshman,” she said. “I know whenever I get there there will be some juniors or seniors in front of me.
"I know they’ll probably get more playing time than I will, but I also want to go somewhere I might get minutes.”
Have a comment on this story? Join the discussion or start a new one on the Forums.