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THE RECRUITING GUY: Razorbacks visited by trio of basketball targets

by Richard Davenport | June 8, 2021 at 2:05 a.m.

ESPN national recruiting director Paul Biancardi is high on three University of Arkansas basketball targets who officially visited the Razorbacks last week.

Biancardi was able to catch two games of North Little Rock and 17-under All-Arkansas Red center Kel'el Ware in action during the NY2LA and Rumble in the Plex in the Dallas area on May 21-23.

Ware, 7-0, 221 pounds, is currently rated a 4-star recruit by Biancardi and the No. 15 center in the nation for the 2022 class.

"He has a chance to be impactful," Biancardi said. "He's more of a prospect than a player right now, but I love his size and his length plus some additional skill. He has good hands to rebound and to finish, he runs well. To me right now, he's a shot blocker, finisher with a little face-up game."

Ware averaged 16.4 points, 8.8 rebounds and 4.6 blocks per game as a junior and led the Charging Wildcats to the Class 6A state title game after having 19 points, 8 rebounds and 2 steals while being named MVP of the game. He was named second-team Arkansas Democrat-Gazette All-Arkansas Preps.

"He's going to have to learn how to play through physicality," Biancardi said. "It's going to be important as he gets older. He's got to get more on balance and he has to play lower and that all happens from the feet to the waist. That's where he needs to really become good. A good strength coach could really help him out. He's got to learn how to post up low and wide at the college level. He could be a really good inside- outside threat and at the same time rim protector, post defender, rebounder."

Ware's wing span was measured at 7-feet, 3-inches last year. That's what caught the eye of Biancardi when he first saw the Arkansas target in Dallas.

"I don't know what his wing span is but it looks like plus his height," Biancardi said. 'The NBA likes you to be plus-four. So if you're 6-11, they like you to have a 7-3 wing span. That's their gauge. They get excited about guys that have a four-plus inch wing span."

Ware made an unofficial visit to Memphis on Saturday and will leave from the prestigious Pangos All-American Camp today. He plans to officially visit Oregon on June 14-16 and Texas on June 20 and is working out details for trips to Illinois and Southern Cal.

Biancardi, who plans to update the ESPN rankings at the end of the month, likes Ware's ability to run the floor.

"He doesn't run hard all the time but when he does run with effort he's impressive," Biancardi said. "If he turns that motor on, he becomes a different player."

Magnolia guard Derrian Ford, 6-4, 205, along with Ware officially visited Fayetteville on Tuesday through Thursday of last week.

Ford improved his ESPN ranking from the No. 58 overall prospect in the nation to No. 42 in the April update while remaining a 4-star recruit in the 2022 class. His improvement in the rankings was one of the biggest jumps among all prospects.

"He impresses you with his tenacity and his aggressiveness," Biancardi said. "He seems like a kid that plays hard all the time. I like him because he comes at you. Ford with the ball in his hands, he's aggressive, he's attacking he finishes He has a good pull up game."

Ford, who will also depart today from the Pangos All-American Camp, was named the Gatorade Arkansas Player of the Year on Friday.

Biancardi said Ford's preparation off the court is aiding his game.

"Whatever he's doing is translating on the court," he said. "I mean he's getting after it."

Barry Dunning, 6-6, 185, of Mobile (Ala.) McGill-Toolen Catholic, left Friday from Fayetteville after arriving Wednesday on his official visit. He was named the Gatorade Alabama Player of the Year after averaging 21.5 points, 11.3 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 2.1 steals and 1.8 blocks per game as a junior.

Biancardi rates him a 4-star prospect, the No. 17 small forward and the No. 59 overall recruit in the nation for the 2022 class.

"Really skilled and he has the body to match," said Biancardi, who believes an increase in intensity could elevate Dunning's game. "He oozes with upside. He's talented. Young in the game. Got a world of potential."

E-mail Richard Davenport at [email protected]

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