Ra­zor­backs hoops tar­gets set for of­fi­cial vis­its

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - THE SECOND PAGE - DUD­LEY E. DAW­SON Dud­ley E. Daw­son can be reached at ddaw­son@nwadg.com.

Arkansas will host two of its top basketball re­cruit­ing tar­gets on of­fi­cial vis­its be­fore the end of the month.

Ba­ton Rouge (La.) Madi­son Prep Academy four-star for­ward John LeBlanc (6-7, 210) and Ok­la­homa City Mid­west City four-star point guard Keyshawn Em­bery (6-3, 175) are both sched­uled to visit the Ra­zor­backs on Aug. 25-27.

They are friends and have talked about play­ing at the same school.

“We were al­ready close be­fore, but have be­come even closer since we have been talk­ing about go­ing to Arkansas to­gether,” LeBlanc said. “If that is what it would end up be­ing, then that would be pretty nice. I am not go­ing to lie to you about that.

“But in the end, I have to do what’s best for me and he has to do what is best for him.” Em­bery feels the same way. “We are friends from the cir­cuit and play­ing each other,” Em­bery said. “It would be re­ally cool to end up on the same team with him. We’ll just see how it goes.”

LeBlanc, who av­er­aged 14.8 points, 10 re­bounds and five blocked shots per game last sea­son, an­nounced his fi­nal four choices on Mon­day night.

“It’s Arkansas, Ge­orge­town, LSU and Texas A&M,” LeBlanc said. “I plan to com­mit on my birth­day Nov. 12th.”

Em­bery, who av­er­aged 26.8 points per game last sea­son, cut his list to five on Tues­day. Arkansas, Ari­zona State, But­ler, Texas A&M and West Vir­ginia made the cut.

LeBlanc will be­gin his of­fi­cial vis­its this week­end with a trip to Ge­orge­town, now coached by for­mer Hoyas and NBA star Pa­trick Ewing.

“I don’t re­ally know how Coach Pat is go­ing to coach, how his of­fense is go­ing to be, but I know he is a leg­end,” LeBlanc said.

Arkansas was one of the ear­li­est to of­fer LeBlanc, with as­sis­tant coach and fel­low Louisiana na­tive Scotty Thur­man as his chief re­cruiter.

“I like the way they play and me and Coach Thur­man have a great re­la­tion­ship,” LeBlanc said. “I think the Arkansas coaches are all re­ally good peo­ple and I like talk­ing to them. They ask me more than about basketball. They ask about my life, what I like do­ing, what are my fa­vorite hob­bies and things like that.”

LeBlanc led Madi­son Cen­tral to its third straight LHSSA Class 2 state cham­pi­onship. He was named the out­stand­ing player in last sea­son’s ti­tle game af­ter scor­ing 12 points, grab­bing 16 re­bounds and block­ing six shots.

“My high school team has won the last three years,” LeBlanc said. “We also have a pretty good team back this year and ex­pect to win it again.”

He also had a good AAU sea­son this spring and sum­mer af­ter miss­ing the 2016 cir­cuit sched­ule be­cause of an in­jury.

“As a team, we wanted to go fur­ther, but this was my best sum­mer I have ever had,” LeBlanc said. “I didn’t get to play last sum­mer be­cause I broke my foot so I was lim­ited.”

LeBlanc is an ath­letic for­ward who seems to fit the mold of the play­ers that Arkansas head coach Mike An­der­son wants.

“The best parts of my game right now are my de­fense and my mo­tor,” LeBlanc said. “I am still work­ing on my of­fen­sive skill set.

“I go by a motto that if you don’t work, you don’t eat. So I try to out­work ev­ery­body, no mat­ter how good they are or a size ad­van­tage they have on me.”

Em­bery has vis­its set for Arkansas on Aug. 25, But­ler on Sept. 9, West Vir­ginia on Sept. 15 and Texas A&M on Sept. 29 and is in the process of fi­nal­iz­ing a trip to Ari­zona State.

“I have had a lot of great schools re­cruit­ing me,” Em­bery said. “I feel very hon­ored.”

He feels good about his de­vel­op­ment over the sum­mer.

“I think I im­proved just be­ing con­sis­tent ev­ery game and I just want to con­tinue to im­prove my ball-han­dling be­cause you can al­ways get bet­ter,” Em­bery said. “I think that would be good ex­am­ples of things I can do to be a bet­ter PG.”

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