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"The Houston Pipeline"
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UA basketball staff working on establishing a Houston pipeline
BY DUDLEY E. DAWSON -Northwest Arkansas Times

INDIANAPOLIS -- It's been quite a long time since the University of Arkansas has been part of the Southwest Conference, but the Razorback basketball coaching staff is back into invading Houston.

That's because the talent coming out of that city these days is phenomenal.

"We have always had talent, but people just never recognized it like they are doing now," Houston Nimitz senior Blake Adams said. "Everybody was talking about East Coast-West Coast, but it's about Texas now. Texas was once a predominately football state, but over the last few years we're getting it done in basketball."

The 6-3, 200-pound Adams joins 6-10, 220-pound Tyrone Nelson, 6-7,190-pound Ndudi Ebi, 6-7 forward Cartier Martin, 6-1 guard Tack Minor and 6-3 junior guard Daniel Gibson as big-time players coming out of Houston right now.

Arkansas is in on all but Minor, who is at the Nike All-America Camp this week along with Adams, Ebi and Gibson.

Gibson, one of the nation's top five junior prospects, and Nelson have already taken unofficial visits to Arkansas while Adams had intentions to do so, but it didn't work out.

"I will visit Arkansas sometime during football season and I am very interested in the Razorbacks," Adams said. "Coach Heath started recruiting me for Arkansas the moment that he got there and I really like his coaching staff. They came right away to see me, both at Austin and Kingswood (AAU events). They wanted me enough that they wanted me to take an unofficial visit, but I was unable to make it. But I will be coming for an official."

His buddy Gibson can give him an overview before his trip.

"There are no pro teams and no other big schools so all the support goes to Arkansas," Gibson said. "Along with Coach Heath and their great arena, that is a great package."

Gibson, who has a top five right now of Arkansas, Kentucky, North Carolina, Texas and Duke, was intrigued by Heath's recent success in taking Kent State to the Elite Eight.

"I just like what (Arkansas' current coaches) did while they were at Kent State," Gibson said. "It brought me out there to take the unofficial visit to Arkansas. It is a great thing that they did and I think that I want to be a part of something like that."

Gibson's first visit with Heath solidified that he was a winner.

"He is trying to make the program better and I think he will get it done soon," Gibson said. "Coach Heath is a great guy. He took me around and seems like a great coach and somebody I could get along with well."

Gibson, Minor and Ebi all play on the Houston Hoops AAU team while Adams and Martin are members of the Houston Select AAU team and Nelson is playing for the Houston superstars.

Nelson is a young man who had 42 points, 15 rebounds, 15 blocks and 15 assists in 28 minutes of play in one game last year for Hempstead, which is about 40 miles outside of Houston

"He's a kid with a great father and mother, who made sure he was a disciplined young man," John Eurey, the head coach of the Houston Superstars club told ESPN recently. "But don't let that fool you, on the court he can be as mean as a snake. And he's tough, wiry tough."

Ebi is perhaps the most polished of the Houston standouts and someone who has even been mentioned as a possible straight-to-the-NBA guy. He lists Texas, Duke, Arizona, Indiana and North Carolina as his leading colleges if it comes to that, but has Arkansas in a mix of other teams he is considering.

"I just want to keep working hard," said Ebi, who is a friend of UA assistant coach Orande Taliaferro. "Whatever happens, it's just important to get better every day."

* * *

Arkansas is also in on another Texas prospect in 6-11 junior La Marcus Aldridge, a Dallas high school star who took an unofficial visit to Fayetteville last month.

* * *

All of the Houston prep stars said that Arkansas got a great player in 6-3 left-handed guard Kendrick Davis, who signed with the Razorbacks this spring and will be a freshman for the Razorbacks this upcoming season.

"He is awesome," Minor said. "He is going to bring energy and excitement to Arkansas and he can stroke the ball. The fans are going to love him."
07-09-2002 09:25 AM
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