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HOGS after Von Wafer - Recruiting - Printable Version

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- calling_the_hogs - 07-10-2002 01:09 PM

UA one of several schools chasing red-hot Von Wafer
BY DUDLEY E. DAWSON -Northwest Arkansas Times
INDIANAPOLIS -- The decision to cross the Louisiana-Arkansas state line and play his summer ball with the Arkansas Wings AAU organization has turned out to be the best decision of Vakeaton Wafer's young life.

"The Wings organization has opened a lot of doors for me," notes Wafer, a Louisiana prep star on hand here for the Nike All-America Camp this week. "It's has opened a lot of doors for me and put my dream within my grasp. They are now in reaching distance and it is up to me to just take care of the rest."

That dream is to play major college basketball and the 6-5 guard's standout play this spring and summer has the University of Arkansas coaching staff and its fans hoping he will decide to cross the same border again to play his collegiate hoops.

"I like Arkansas," Wafer said Tuesday night during his designated Nike interview session. "I have always liked Arkansas. They've always been a great program with great tradition."

But Arkansas is certainly not the only major college program chasing Wafer, who goes by Von and has turned from an anonymous star at small Pineview High School in Lisbon, La., into an overnight national sensation.

The transformation occurred with a spectacular performance with Coach Tim Loring's Wings at May's Kingswood AAU Classic just outside of Houston.

It was the first chance for many college coaches like Arkansas' Stan Heath, Indiana's Mike Davis, Ole Miss' Rod Barnes and Texas' Rick Barnes to see Von play and they were all on his doorstep the next week.

A solid performance at the Arkansas State AAU Tournament and a sparkling one at the Memorial Day Classic in Bloomington, Ind., has kept the momentum going and has him ranked as high as No. 12 nationally by recruiting expert Dave Telep of Insidershoop.com.

"He has got such great explosion to the basket," Telep said on Tuesday afternoon.

It also has coaches from schools such as Arkansas, Indiana, Florida, Duke, North Carolina, LSU, Louisiana Tech and Kansas State -- colleges that he is interested in -- watching his every move this week.

"It has been very exciting for me," Wafer said. "I knew that I was a pretty good player, but this spring and summer has allowed me to see just how good and how much these coaches think of me."

Telep said it seems as if Wafer, who averaged 32 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists last season, is getting more and more comfortable with his star status as the camp has gone along.

"This is a guy that every time he goes out to play, it is a different experience for him," Telep said. "He has no idea who these kids are because he hasn't been on the (AAU circuit) in earlier years like the others have.

"Vakeaton is like a clean sheet," Telep continued. "The first few times he took the floor here at Nike, he was embarrassed to shoot. He didn't understand the dynamics of how you have to go out and get your shot. Now he does and he is doing something more each game to show you that he truly is one of the nation's best players."

Wafer, whose parents have been here all week, says that he will wait as late as possible in the early signing period before making a decision.

"I am going to take all five of my official visits and make my decision a very informed one," Wafer said. "I have got to take all these and see what's best for me."

Wafer is intrigued with Indiana and its head coach Mike Davis and has been getting a lot of that state's media attention this week since Nike is being held in Indianapolis.

"He (Davis) is just a real honest guy, a good man and I just like what he is trying to do at Indiana," Wafer said. "I like his offensive style and I think I would fit in well there if that's where I decide to go. I also like the fact that they were in the Final Four last season and have a chance each year to win it all."

Wafer is also intrigued with new Arkansas head coach Stan Heath, who has been in constant contact with Wafer's dad and AAU coaches, and who led Kent State to the Elite Eight last season.

"I don't know that much about Stan Heath's style, but I know he had a heck of a run in the NCAA Tournament and I was very impressed," Wafer said. "I know he didn't have a lot of talent there at Kent State, but I am anxious to see what he is going to do when he starts getting a lot at Arkansas."