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:
Ashdown TE brings presence to hardwood
While Ashdown sophomore Shamar Easter could be one of the more highly sought after tight end prospects in the nation for the 2023 class, his skills on the hardwood aren’t bad either.
In the last five games for the Panthers’ basketball team, Easter has averaged 14 points, 11.2 rebounds, 3 blocks and 2.6 steals while scoring a high of 17 points in a victory over Fouke and grabbing a personal high of 17 rebounds in a loss to Harmony Grove.
Ashdown Coach Eric Cross said it took Easter several games to get into a grove after joining the team for the De Queen game on Dec. 2 after football season.
“You get like two practices and roll into basketball,” Cross said. “I feel like it took him awhile to get going but the last four or five [games]. The last game he had 17 [points] and 12 [rebounds]. He’s really started to dominate.”
Easter, 6-6, 215 pounds, has accumulated football scholarships from Arkansas, Florida State, Tennessee, Arizona State, Kansas and others. He was the first 2023 in-state prospect to receive an offer from Coach Sam Pittman last spring.
Having an athletic and physical football prospect in the middle is a big asset for the Panthers.
“You see his shot blocking, but I think even more than that just his presence,” Cross said. “You put a big 6-6 and athletic kid in the paint sometimes they can be intimidating to other teams. He’s [a] really physical, shot blocker, rebounder.
"Even if he’s not necessarily scoring, he does all those other little things that means a lot to a team.”
College coaches often talk about the importance of recruiting athletes who are fierce competitors. Ashdown football Coach Matt Richardson encourages his players to play other sports.
“Yeah he’s not in there lifting weights as much in our offseason right now, but he competed the last three months and became a better basketball player which has made him a tougher football player,” said Richardson, who was a student manager for the football Razorbacks in the early 2000s. “His feet are getting better. His hand-eye coordination is getting better with basketball.”
Easter recorded 22 catches for 400 yards and 7 touchdowns this past season. Tracking Football reports 88% of 2018 NFL Draft picks were multiple-sport athletes in high school, while 85% players in the 2020 NFL Drafted were multiple-sport athletes.
“You look at great athletes, and they’re multiple-sport players,” Richardson said. “He’s a track guy, too, and he might be better at track than anything.”
For the season, Easter is averaging 9 points, 9 rebounds and 2.2 blocked shots for the season. Cross praised Easter’s attitude and work ethic.
“He really doesn’t have bad practices,” Cross said. “He always works hard. Does what you ask him to do. He’s a really, really great kid. He maybe our hardest playing player we got. He leaves it all on the floor.
"If anyone could take a break here or there he could and probably wouldn’t even notice, it but he doesn’t.”
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