Real Deal in the Rock founder Bill Ingram said Friday night's crowd at P.A.R.K. was "historic."
Kaevon Jones (34) puts up a shot in front of Tyler Hutchieson (10) during the Arkansas Wings Elite’s 79-39 victory over the Arkansas Wildcats at the Real Deal in the Rock tournament in Little Rock.
An Arkansas Wildcats’ player (front) loses control of the ball in front of defenders Langston Powell (right) and Asa Hutchinson during the Wildcats’ loss to the Arkansas Wings Elite on Saturday.
Ingram said more than 3,000 basketball fans found their way into the Geyer Springs Road gymnasium Friday night and another 300 fans were turned away at the door.
"I thought it was a history-making event [Friday] night," Ingram said. "The crowd was at an all-time high. We had the governor [Asa Hutchinson] and two former senators here. We had current Razorback players, future Razorback players. I've never seen anything like that in summer basketball."
A standing-room-only crowd was there to see a group of five future University of Arkansas, Fayetteville players and 6-7 forward Zion Williamson, who plays for the South Carolina Supreme. Williamson is rated as the top player in the country for 2018 and he has been offered scholarships by 27 Division I programs, according to ESPN.
Ninety minutes before the Arkansas Hawks tipped off with the Dallas Pacers on Friday night, all of the gymnasium's seats were taken.
Ingram said Williamson is regarded as the best high school player to come along since LeBron James.
"The craziest thing to me was when the crowd went nuts when Zion Williamson missed a dunk during the warmups," Ingram said. "I've never seen a crowd react to a missed dunk like that. The fans were 'oohing' and 'awwing' over a missed dunk. To me, that's the funniest thing that happened. But I thought he lived up to his billing during the game. His talent level is off the charts."
Star held in check
The Arkansas Hawks held E.J. Montgomery to five points on Saturday, a nice feat considering the 6-10 power forward is rated as the No. 15 player in the country by ESPN.
"For his size, he's extremely athletic," Atlanta Celtics Coach Carl McCray said of his player Montgomery. "He works hard and he's very attentive. He just does a great job with everything, plus, he's a great kid."
Montgomery led Wheeler High School of Marietta, Ga., to a 21-9 record this season and has committed to play for Auburn. He scored 18 points in the Celtics' 81-48 victory over the Dallas Pacers on Saturday morning.
A few hours later, however, Montgomery was handcuffed by the Hawks. Montgomery scored all five of his points in the first half and finished with eight rebounds. He spent most of the second half on the bench after the game, an 89-61 Hawks' victory, was decided.
"He likes to extend his shot a little bit more than we need him to at this time," McCray said when asked what Montgomery needs to improve upon. "He needs to work on his jump shot and his perimeter defense. Other than that, he's doing a great job."
While Montgomery was limited to five points, the Hawks picked up 19 points and 8 rebounds from Reggie Perry, and 18 points, 6 rebounds and 4 steals from Isaiah Joe.
A shot to remember
Caleb Stokes practices shooting the most unlikely shots. One of those absurd shots paid off for the 6-8 power forward on Friday.
Forced to unleash a shot from behind the backboard, Stokes threw up a high arching shot that fell through. Had he not taken the shot, he would have most likely fallen out of bounds for a turnover.
Stokes says that shot in practice goes in "one out of every five times."
"I shoot that shot all the time in practice, but I never figured I would have to take it during a game," said Stokes, who is a junior at Little Rock Parkview. "I never figured it would go in either. But now I think I can do anything."
Stokes scored only four points in Friday's 91-53 victory over the Dallas Pacers, but he had a more robust effort in Saturday's game against the Atlanta Celtics, scoring 12 of his 14 points in the second half in an 89-61 victory.
"I started out kind of slow, but the coaches got me to playing better defense and my offense came alive," Stokes said.
Coming off a state championship last month with Mills, 6-3 guard Grehlon Easter is working hard on improving his game.
“I’m trying to take over a leadership role,” said Easter, who scored a team-high 14 points for the Wings Elite in a 79-39 victory over the Arkansas Wildcats on Saturday. “I’m trying to display the same type of leadership our seniors showed this season.”
Easter also grabbed five rebounds and made two steals in Saturday’s victory.
Raymond Cooper, who doubles as the Wings and Mills head coach, said he needs his summer league team to play solid defense.
“We have to play good defense because we really don’t have a true scorer,” Cooper said. “So we’re having to focus on defense. Easter and [Cadarius] Baggett (Pine Bluff High) are doing a good job with that.”
“My strengths right now are pushing the basketball, and I think my defensive play is the best it has ever been,” Easter said.
Langston Powell and Chol Adup added 13 and 10 points, respectively, for the Wings against the Wildcats.
Sports on 04/02/2017
Print Headline: Ingram pleased by crowd