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North Little Rock vs. Bentonville: The Game of Arkansas' Future?

It may not have been the type of game everyone wanted, but the stars still shined.

Malik Monk (right) playing in an AAU tournament in Orlando, FL.
Malik Monk (right) playing in an AAU tournament in Orlando, FL.

With one Razorback commit and two major recruits playing in one game, it was no surprise when the PA announcer at Buzz Bolding Arena in Conway said over that loud speaker that the building had reached capacity.

This was despite the game being at 2:30 on a Monday.

Everyone wanted to see 2014 Hog commit Anton Beard, along with 2015 four-star recruit Kevaughn Allen and 2016 five-star recruit Malik Monk. Not a single one of them disappointed.

Beard, North Little Rock's 5'11'' point guard, shot lights out. Someone asked if he reminded me of Kareem Reid because of their similar size and both being left-handed. I can't recall a time when Kareem Reid went 11-17 from the field and shot 5-6 from behind the arc for 28 points like Beard did that day. He also grabbed five rebounds and dished out three assists while only committing two turnovers. While he will be asked to play the point for the Hogs, he and Allen traded off running the point at times. He isn't as crafty as Courtney Fortson, but Beard is the deep threat Fortson never was. If I had to say he reminded me of a point guard from Razorback past, I'd say Jannero Pargo.

Allen, North Little Rock's 6'2'' shooting guard, also had 28 points for the Charging Wildcats. He shot 8-16 from the field, 4-9 on three-pointers, and was 8-8 from the charity stripe. He also had three rebounds, two assists and no turnovers. He has no fear attacking the basket and has a wonderful transition game. He is aggressive on the defensive end as well, proof in his game high four steals. He is a mix of several former Hogs. He reminds me of Patrick Beverley with a little Fred Gulley III mixed in. He can score anyway possible like Beverley, with a little bit of the "ol' reliable" feeling  Gulley gives a team .

Monk, Bentonville's 6'3'' shooting guard, had a game high 30 points and nine rebounds. Before I start analyzing Monk, I must admit I've announced all but two of his games on the radio this season. I've seen him on his best and worst nights. I'm sorry Paul Pierce, but Monk is the truth. He has dunks that make Michael Qualls jealous (pick one from this link). North Little Rock had more fire power on this day, but Monk is on a young team that will win a 7A state title before he graduates. In this game, he was 11-20 from the field and 5-10 from the land of plenty. He can rely on the pull up three pointer when he should attack the basket, but he gets away with it at times. He is unlike any Razorback I have seen during my life time. Marvin Delph is the comparison I hear used with Monk.

Now imagine those three as Arkansas' backcourt in three years (!!!!). Allen has offers from everywhere between Arizona to Florida to Connecticut.  He is high on the Hogs' list as well.

With Monk two years away from college, his recruiting is still wide open. His brother Marcus is a graduate assistant on coach Anderson's staff right now. While this may look like it favors the Razorbacks, Marcus isn't going to be a graduate assistant forever. The two have a close relationship and that will definitely factor into Malik's decision.

Back to that Kareem Reid reference, there was a player on the floor who reminded me of him. Bentonville's sophomore point guard Tyrik Dixon fits that mold. He isn't a getting the attention the other three players are, but he is on plenty of teams' radar. He has a knack for playing up to his competition. The 6'1'' south-paw is more of the Reid/Fortson type point guard. He is a slasher that gets to the basket and is crafty passing the basketball. He has a longer way to go than the others mentioned above, but don't be surprised if you see his name surface attached to offers later in his career.

These comparisons are just to give you an idea of the type of players they are. Obviously, every player is unique in his own right.

North Little Rock won 77-64 and plays Springdale in the 7A championship game tonight in Hot Springs. Hog fans can hope that these guys are playing for championships with the Razorbacks one day as well.