The Real Deal in the Rock again has drawn some of the best young basketball talent to central Arkansas.
Among those coming to this year’s 15th annual event include 6-10 forward Rodney Howard of Roswell, Ga., and 6-3 guard Ashton Hagans of Covington, Ga. Both are considered top prospects.
The tournament starts Friday night and will be held at various locations throughout Little Rock. Tournament headquarters will be at P.A.R.K. on Geyer Springs Road.
Howard is the nephew of NBA All-Star Dwight Howard, and Real Deal in the Rock director Bill Ingram said “the kid is really blowing up.”
“He looks like Dwight Howard, and he plays like him, too,” Ingram said.
Hagans led Newton High School to a 27-4 record and to the semifinals of the Georgia state tournament. He averaged 28.6 points a game. Hagans recently de-committed from the University of Georgia and has offers from Kentucky, Louisville, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Providence and Texas A&M.
Ingram said Hagans is ranked as the No. 8 player in the country and plays for Game Elite, which is regarded as the No. 1 team in the nation.
Homegrown talent will be featured as well. University of Arkansas, Fayetteville commitment Justice Hill of Little Rock Christian and Baptist Prep’s Issac McBride will be a formidable guard duo for the Joe Johnson Arkansas Hawks.
McBride has led Baptist Prep to three consecutive Class 4A state titles.
“Issac is the next Power 5 player in the state,” Ingram said. “He’s a very multitalented player who’s getting a lot of interest.”
Ingram said Little Rock Parkview 6-5 junior Allen Flanigan, the son of former University of Arkansas at Little Rock coach Wes Flanigan, and Mills 6-1 freshman Madison Peaster are two other players from Arkansas to watch.
Friday’s feature game will be a 7 p.m. meeting between the Hawks and River City Hoops from Wichita, Kan., on Court 1. Game Elite and the Houston Super Stars will play on Court 1 immediately after the Hawks-Hoops contest.
Ingram said about 280 teams are expected to participate in this year’s event.
Sunday’s championship games are scheduled for a 2 p.m. start at P.A.R.K.
The basketball festivities in Little Rock actually will begin tonight with the annual Mike Conley All-Star Games at Little Rock Hall High School.
The girls game between the Arkansas and Memphis All-Stars is scheduled to tip at 6 p.m.