By Kevin McPherson
LITTLE ROCK — 2020 Hog offer Bryce Thompson (6-4 combo guard, Tulsa Booker T. Washington, ESPN national No. 45 / 4-star prospect) was busy having a brilliant run over the weekend during the Tournament of Champions on the campus of Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, but not too busy to notice Arkansas head coach Mike Anderson in attendance watching him play.
“I was very excited to see him over there on the sidelines,” Thompson said during a telephone interview on Sunday, Dec. 30, a day after he scored 25 points to lead his team over Tulsa Memorial, 66-60, to win the TOC title and claim tourney MVP honors as Anderson and Razorbacks assistant coach Scotty Thurman looked on. “It was great to win, because they (Tulsa Memorial) beat us last year, so it was good to come back this year and win the (TOC) championship.”
Thompson, who averaed 26.0 points and 5.3 assists during the 3-game TOC event over the weekend, said he’s maintained constant contact with Arkansas coaches since taking one of his junior-season official visits to Arkansas the weekend of Oct. 19-21.
“I’m in touch with coach Thurman on a weekly basis,” said Thompson, who has also taken unoffical visits to Fayetteville and raved about Arkansas’s “family” atmosphere back in October after his OV there.
Thompson has led Booker T. Washington to an early 7-1 record, and he plays his spring/summer grassroots basketball on the Under Armour Association circuit with OK Run PWP 17U, the same program that produced current Arkansas freshman guard Keyshawn Embery-Simpson. Thompson and Embery-Simpson are friends, and Embery-Simpson was his player-host during his official visit to Arkansas.
“Yes, for sure,” Thompson answered when asked if he was aware of Embery-Simpson’s most-recent performance scoring 14 points that fueled a game-closing 28-13 Arkansas run that propelled the Hogs to a 76-65 come-from-behind win over Austin Peay on Friday, Dec. 28. “It made me proud, it’s what I like to see.”
Thompson is also aware that Arkansas’s young and inexperienced backcourt that includes Embery-Simpson, Isaiah Joe, Mason Jones, Jalen Harris, Desi Sills, and Jordan Phillips is getting plenty of playing time with opportunities to make an impact on winning.
“Going anywhere, I want to come in and play,” Thompson said. “But I want to earn it.”
In addition to Arkansas, Thompson has taken junior-year official visits to Colorado and Texas A&M, so he has two more OVs he can take as a junior before resetting with five more he can take during his senior season.
“We’ll sit down and evaluate and see how it goes,” Bryce Thompsons’s father, Rod Thompson, said back in late October regarding his son’s potential future OVs. “We’ll look at his schedule and see what fits into the basketball season.” Rod Thompson is a long-time friend of Anderson as well as former Hog great and graduate assistant coach Lee Mayberry.
For now, Bryce Thompson said he does not have a favorite school.
“I’m wide open,” he said. “I’m taking my time, seeing what all the programs have to offer. Trusting the process, and enjoying it.”
Thompson is an alpha shooter/scorer who has improved his ball-handling, facilitating, and defense to become an all-around player.
“I’ve really been working on getting stronger so I can finsih better at the basket, finish through defenders,” Thompson said, adding that he’s also put the time in to become “a better passer.”
In addition to Arkansas, Thompson has reported offers from Kansas (he took an unofficial visit there in late September), Colorado, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Iowa, Wake Forest, Minnesota, and Houston, among others.
Linked is a highlight reel of Bryce Thompson during the Tournament of Champions over the weekend …
2019 forward Jalyn McCreary confirms UA coach attended his game, would like Hog offer
2019 Arkansas interest Jalyn McCreary (6-8 forward, Legacy Early College High School in South Carolina) said Hogs assistant coach T.J. Cleveland was on hand Monday, Dec. 31, to watch him put up 27 points, 13 rebounds, and 3 assists in Legacy’s win over Tennessee Prep at the Big South Shootout.
“It was nice to see him come out,” McCreary said of Cleveland’s visit to watch him play. “My interest (in Arkansas) is the same. But I’m also ready to make a decision to commit really soon.”
McCreary recently picked up an offer from DePaul to go with offers from Xavier, UMass, South Florida, and others.
“I’d like to commit in the month of January,” McCreary. “If they (Arkansas) offered, I would like to visit. My interest level is still there but I also want to wrap up this process and know where I’m headed. And I want to go somewhere that really feels I can contribute to their program. Don’t want to be anyone’s last pick.”
2019 Arkansas interest Dischon Thomas continues to impress
2019 Arkansas interest Dischon Thomas (6-9 forward, Hillcrest Prep in Phoenix) had a strong run at the end of December, and Arkansas coaches were on hand to see at least one of his games.
With Arkansas associate head coach Melvin Watkins and assistant coach Scotty Thurman watching, Thomas scored 17 points in Hillcrest’s 61-55 win over Prolific Prep on Dec. 20 at the Tarkanian Classic in Las Vegas, then Thomas had 18 points (5-of-6 field goals and 8-of-8 free throws) and 9 rebounds the following day in Hillcrest’s 70-61 win over Findlay Prep in the championship gam of the National division of the Tarkanian Classic.
Thomas was back it over the weekend with three impressive games at the Chik-fil-A Classic basketball tournament in South Carolina: He had 21 points (7-of-13 field goals including 1-of-3 from 3, plus 6-of-7 free throws), 11 rebounds, 3 blocks, and 1 steal in a 64-54 loss against St. Benedicts (NJ); he had 19 points (8-of-11 field goals including 2-of-4 from 3, plus 1of-1 free throws), 9 rebounds, 1 block, 1 steal, and 1 assist in Hillcrest’s 57-56 loss to Memphis East while playing head-to-head against 2019 National Top 3 / 5-star prospect James Wiseman; and finally he had 23 points and 17 rebounds in Hillcrest’s 95-83 win over 2019 National No. 1 / 5-star prospect Anthony Edwards and Holy Spirit Prep.
“I’ve been texting back and forth with coach Thurman after every game,” Thomas said Saturday after being named to the Chik-fil-A Classic all-tourney team. “I’m not sure yet (about a visit date to Arkansas), but I definitely want to visit and see what it’s like. Coach Thurman is definitely looking forward to coming back out to Arizona to check me out.”
Thomas, who is averaging a double-double in scoring and rebounds for Hillcrest, had pledged to Nevada but decommitted from the Wolfpack in August. He holds offers from UNLV, St. Louis, Southern Illinois, and others with Arkansas, St. Mary’s, and Hawaii among the programs showing recent interest.
McCreary and Thomas are just two of several frontline and small foward / wing prospects that have become the focus of the Arkansas coaches as they continue to recruit the class of 2019.
The Hogs have an offer out to ’19 Doudou Gueye (6-9, 220, sophomore forward, Daytona State College juco in Florida) — a player that Hog coaches have watched play in person at least a couple of times. Gueye recently had a double-double: 19 points and 13 rebounds to go with 2 assists in Daytona State College’s win on Saturday. Gueye, who also holds offers from Texas Tech, Ole Miss, Seton Hall, and others, is averaging 21.8 minutes, 11.1 points (on 52.7% field goals, including 38.6% from 3), 6.4 rebounds, 2.3 assists, and 1.3 steals. Arkansas also has an offer out to ’19 Javon Franklin (6-7 combo forward, Holmes, MS, Community College via Little Rock Parkview), who is redshirting with a broken leg and will have three years of playing eligibility at the NCAA Division 1 level beginning in ’19-20. Franklin intends to take an official visit to Arkansas in January or February.
Arkansas has also been evaluating at least three other frontline prospects in the ’19 class — Raymond Hawkins (6-9, 230, power forward / center, Findlay Prep by way of Oakland, CA), Mahamadou Diawara (6-10, 220, forward/center, Massanutten Military Academy in Virginia, native of Mali, ESPN 4-star prospect), and Demontay Dixon (a freshman qualifier at Walters State Community College in Tennessee). Watkins and Thurman saw Hawkins play at the Tarkanian Classic in Las Vegas on Dec. 20 when Hawkins scored 12 points to help Findlay Prep defeat Trinity International, 72-64. Arkansas assistant coach T.J. Cleveland has traveled to watch Dixon play, and Watkins is the lead recruiter for Diawara and plans to watch him in action soon.
Arkansas signed one player during the mid-November early period — Justice Hill (5-11 point guard, Little Rock Christian Academy), who joined the Razorbacks today (Wednesday, Jan. 2) as an early enrollee.
Linked below are recent highlights of Thomas, Hawkins, and Gueye …