By Kevin McPherson
LITTLE ROCK — Despite a vastly tapered-down grassroots basketball season in the spring and summer due to the coronavirus pandemic, numerous event organizers managed to find ways to put on team competitions around the country. One such event — the Grind & Advance “Bubble Challenge” — will be held in central Arkansas on Saturday and Sunday with several Arkansas Razorbacks targets expected to participate.
2022 Arkansas offers Nick Smith, Jr. (6-4 combo guard, Sylvan Hills, composite national No. 42 / 4-star prospect) and Kel’el Ware (6-11 forward / center, North Little Rock, national No. 63 / 4-star prospect accordng to Rivals.com), as well as 2023 Arkansas offer Bryson Warren (6-2 combo guard, Little Rock Central) have all been active during the summer playing in various events, and now the trio is expected to compete closer to home as 15 or more teams (ranging from 15U to 17U) are planning to converge on Little Rock for the event.
Although the field is loaded with Arkansas-based teams — including Woodz Elite, Arkansas All Red (Ware), and Grind & Advance (Smith and Warren) — there will be regional competition present, including the Memphis-based MSBA Magic. Each team in the event is scheduled to play three games over the course of the weekend.
Graphic courtesy of Grind & Advance
Ware is coming off a strong weekend of play at The War in the Dallas area, and he picked up a Florida scholarship offer on Thursday to go with a long list of offers that includes the Hogs, Kansas, and others.
Smith had a big August, finishing as the leading scorer at the talent-rich Brad Beal Elite camp early in the month in St. Louis followed by establishing himself as one of the top performers among 250 participants at the Crossroads Elite Invitational late in the month in Wichita, Kan. Smith’s high-major offer list is long and impressive, and he’s drawing interest from two blueblood programs — North Carolina and Kansas (for more on Smith’s summer of hoops and Razorbacks recruitment, click the link to my Hogville.net story published on Tuesday, Sept. 8 … https://forums.hogville.net/index.php?topic=718014.0).
Warren has had a big summer as well, impressing during a loaded Mokan Elite camp followed by a recent run at the Elite 32 event in Spartanburg, S.C. where he averaged 20.0 points, 4.0 assists, and 3.3 rebounds while playing up on the 17U level. Warren recently added an Auburn offer to his list that includes the Hogs, Texas A&M, Vanderbilt, Ole Miss, and Oklahoma State. And, Memphis recently started showing interest in Warren.
In addition to the prospect names Hog fans are already familiar with, there will be some young, emerging talent representing the 2023 and 2024 classes (some 2025, too) who will use this event as a spring board to the upcoming 2020-21 high school season.