Time with Hawks coming to end for future Hogs
LAS VEGAS — Two Arkansas Razorbacks commitments have played their last game for the 17-under Arkansas Hawks.
It came Saturday in an 82-79 loss to The Firm in double overtime in the Sweet 16 of the Adidas Summer Championships.
Guard Isaiah Joe, 6-4, 170 pounds, of Fort Smith Northside and forward Ethan Henderson, 6-9, 190, of Little Rock Parkview will now play their senior years before heading to Fayetteville to play for the Razorbacks.
Another Razorbacks commitment, Justice Hill, 5-10, 160, of Little Rock Christian, will spend his final spring and summer with the Hawks next year. He’s planning to enroll at Arkansas in January 2019.
Bill Ingram, Hawks founder and chairman, said he was sad to see Henderson and Joe leave the Hawks.
“We’ve had Ethan and Isaiah in our program since they were like 7 or 8 years old,” Ingram said. “We’ve had Justice the last couple of years, but I’ve been knowing him since he was a little boy.”
Hill said Joe and Henderson gave their all to the Hawks.
“I know for them, it’s their last AAU tournament,” Hill said. “That’s crazy for me to think about because I have another year.”
Hill scored 25 points with 2 rebounds, 1 steal and 3 assists in the Hawks’ 93-74 victory over Team Loaded NC on Saturday to advance to the Sweet 16.
Team Loaded NC featured two players who are being targeted by the Hogs — Top 100 ESPN forward Landers Nolley of Fairburn (Ga.) Langston Hughes and Nate Hinton, who is from Gastonia (N.C.) Gaston Day School.
Hill said on Wednesday that neither Henderson nor Joe had discussed the tournament being their last one.
“Not really, I don’t think they want to yet,” Hill said with a chuckle.
Henderson said he has made memories to last a lifetime.
“I’m going to miss these guys so much,” Henderson said. “Everything, even the fights. The road trips, the ride there and then on the way back. The hotel room, at the game and at the end of the game.”
Joe, who was shooting 55.2 percent from beyond the three-point line in the first five games of this week’s event, said there was some discussion of this being the last week with the Hawks for him and Henderson and other teammates.
“We have talked about how this is the last time, so we’ve told each other we have to put it all on the line because of that,” Joe said.
Hill said the end is bitter sweet.
“This is only my second year playing with them, but I love my guys,” Hill said. “I know they’re going. I’m just ready to watch them next year while I come here.”
Ingram has been coaching youth basketball since 1998, has seen lots of players come and go, but said it’s never easy.
“Just the thought of them leaving, it’s like your child going off to school,” Ingram said.
Razorbacks senior guard Daryl Macon and senior forward Trey Thompson played for the Hawks before heading to Fayetteville. Ingram is known to be a no-nonsense, demanding coach who is very much old school.
“When Macon and Trey and them left…those are two guys we had since 8 or 9 years old,” Ingram said. “When they left I got sad. As mean as I am, I almost got a tear in my eye because I started realizing that we played a small part in their role of becoming Razorbacks.”
Ingram said he knows when the emotions of seeing Joe, Henderson and other Hawks playing for the last time will hit him.
“Probably when we’re getting ready to go to the airport and when we’re sitting at the airport waiting and we’re waiting and talking,” Ingram said. “That’s normally when it hits you.”
E-mail Richard Davenport at email@example.com