Dudley E. Dawson is a reporter for Hawgs Illustrated. A graduate of the University of Arkansas, he is a voter for the Heisman Trophy.
State tournaments to feature several potential Razorbacks
Davonte Davis (3) shoots Friday, April 12, 2019, during play at Fayetteville High School.
FAYETTEVILLE Arkansas fans can see several potential Razorbacks men’s and women’s basketball players in state tournament action this week.
Nine players who Arkansas has offered will be involved in tournaments in Farmington (Class 4A), Russellville (Class 5A) and Bryant (Class 6A).
The Class 5A tournament in Russellville will see Arkansas 2020 signee Davonte Davis (6-4, 175) of Jacksonville and 2022 recruiting target Nick Smith (6-2, 175) of Sylvan Hills in action.
Davis and Jacksonville (17-5, 13-1) are the 5A-Central champions and top seed. They open action Wednesday at 2:30 against Little Rock Fair (15-11, 8-6).
“I feel like with the success we’ve had, preparing hard every day up until the first game of the tournament that we should come and in a be dominant team due to all the work we’ve put in,” Davis said.
The Titans had their 13-game winning streak snapped on Friday night with a 48-45 loss to Little Rock Hall.
Smith will lead third-seed Sylvan Hills (19-7, 10-4) against Sheridan (17-8, 10-4) Wednesday at 8:30 p.m.
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Fort Smith Northside big man and Arkansas 2020 pledge Jaylin Williams (6-10, 230) will headline the Class 6A Tournament in Bryant.
The defending state champion Grizzlies (19-9, 9-5), the No. 2 seed from the 6A-Central, will open play Thursday at 8:30 p.m. against the winner of Wednesday’s Rogers-Cabot contest.
Williams, last year’s state tournament MVP, had 16 points in his team’s 79-50 win over rival Fort Smith Southside on Friday.
“It’s the same thing as last year,” Williams said. “We need to just get on a roll and play like we are capable of playing.”
North Little Rock, the 6A-Central’s top seed, features a pair of underclassman who Arkansas has offered in sophomore center Kelel Ware (6-10, 180) and freshman guard Bryson Warren (6-1, 160).
The Charging Wildcats (21-5, 12-2), who have lost their last two games, do not play until Friday at 5:30 p.m when they will take on the winner of Wednesday’s Bentonville-Conway game.
Ware would love to get another shot at Williams and Northside in the finals after the two teams split the regular season series.
“Playing against somebody your height that is stronger than you just makes you a better player down the line,” Ware said. “It is really tough. You just have to get used to it and adapt to it.”
Williams is a fan of Ware and sees him similar to who he was two years ago.
“He is a great player, has great size, great ability inside and outside,” Williams said. “He is only a 10th grader and he is going to get a lot better.”
Fort Smith Northside coach Eric Burnett sees that as well.
“He is going to be just as good as Jaylin and can shoot the 3 just like him,” Burnett said. “I just hate that we are going to have to deal with him when Jaylin leaves.”
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Fort Smith Northside junior guard Jersey Wolfenbarger (6-4) and Bentonville junior center Maryam Douda (6-4), both ranked in ESPN’s Top 25 nationally in the girls' 2021 class, will also be in Bryant.
Douda and Bentonville (25-1, 14-0), coming in off a 58-15 win over Bentonville West, play Thursday at 4 p.m. against the winner of Wednesday’s 1 p.m. game between North Little Rock and Rogers Heritage.
Wolfenbarger and Northside (25-3, 14-0), who have won 20 straight games and also have a first-round bye, will play Friday at 4 p.m. against the winner of Rogers-Bryant on Wednesday.
The Lady Bears downed Fort Smith Southside 65-24 on Friday as the Mavericks girls ended the season 0-26 and have now lost 53 straight games dating back to the 2017-18 season.
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Arkansas has also offered Magnolia sophomore Derrian Ford (6-3, 195) and Little Rock Mills sophomore guard Javion Guy-King (6-5, 190), both of whom are in the Class 4A tournament at Farmington.
Ford has led his unbeaten Panthers to a 24-0 mark this season and is ranked 39th nationally in the 2022 class by Rivals.
Ford will be on display Friday at 5:30 p.m. with Magnolia meeting the winner of Wednesday’s 8:30 p.m. game between Blytheville and Dardanelle.
He has offers from Arkansas, Alabama, Auburn, Baylor, Florida, Oklahoma State, Vanderbilt, Texas A&M and others.
King and Mills (25-3, 14-1) will take an 11-game winning streak into Thursday’s 8:30 p.m. game against the winner of Morrilton and Nashville.
King has an offer from Arkansas and interest from Alabama, Auburn and Vanderbilt.
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