Tuesday, December 21, 2010

SPORTS>>Jones, Goodwin shine in showcase

Leader sports editor

If Jamal Jones and Archie Goodwin keep living up to expectations as they did Saturday night, they are poised to have fine college basketball careers.

Searcy’s Jones and Sylvan Hills’ Goodwin were among the stellar cast of major-college prospects in the 10-team, five-game Arkansas Hoops Challenge at Little Rock Hall High School.

And if the scouts and fans came to see the individuals do their thing, they weren’t disappointed, at least not by Searcy’s 73-68 victory over Sylvan Hills.

Jones, a 6-8 senior forward who has signed with Ole Miss, scored 27 points before fouling out in the final minute. Goodwin, an unsigned, 6-5 junior two-guard touted as one of the top recruits in the nation at his position, led all scorers with 32.

“Hey I would have loved to have been sitting in the stands and just watched him and Archie go back and forth,” Searcy coach Jim Summers said of Jones and Goodwin. “Because it was probably pretty fun to watch.”

Jones and Goodwin weren’t the only stars of the showcase. The trio of Arkansas Razorback signees Aaron Ross (Little Rock Parkview), Rashad Madden (East Poinsett County) and Hunter Mickelson (Jonesboro Westside) would have been enough to get most basketball fans to forget their Christmas shopping for one night.

But when it was their turn on the stage, Jones and Goodwin hit all the right notes.

Jones scored his team’s first five points and then dunked from a standing start over Sylvan Hills’ 6-5 post Devin Pearson for the 13-10 Searcy lead, and he made it 16-13 with a three-pointer seconds later.

“It was fun and it was a great game,” Jones said. “Archie is a good player. He’s just a junior so he’s going to be a great player next year so it was just good to go up against another good talent in Arkansas.”

Goodwin was a little slower starting, missing two free throws to open the game, but he made a pair for his first points and cut it to 11-10 with 11:29 left in the first half. He had a dunk waved off because of an offensive foul but got a defensive rebound after Jones missed a three-pointer and put back his own miss to cut it to 16-14.

Goodwin then stole a pass leading to a bank shot and three-point play when Jones fouled him with 10:01 to go.

That was pretty much the tone of the night as each player had his moments. Jones dunked twice more and pulled in a high bounce pass with one hand and made a reverse layup for a 54-47 lead with 9:32 left in the game.

Goodwin continued to come up with steals and force turnovers and he hit two free throws to pull Sylvan Hills within 68-64 with 1:49 left and got a steal and a layup to cut it to 68-66, as close as the Bears would get the rest of the way.

Each player showed his range as Jones hit three three-pointers and Goodwin made two.

“He’s very athletic and very long,” Goodwin said of Jones. “I’m glad I played against him. I thought he was just a jumper but he shot the ball pretty good today.”

If there was a blot for Jones, it was foul trouble as he committed his fourth and had to take a seat with 4:40 left, then fouled out with 27.8 seconds to go. For Goodwin the shooter, the weakness may have been free throws as he made 9 of 14.

But such mishaps were minor as Jones and Goodwin made their value to their teams clear.

“Archie made some plays that he’s fully capable of making,” Davis said. “Archie is still growing. He’s growing physically; he’s growing mentally. But that kid works and works and works at the game.”

Their teammates, far from standing around and watching Jones and Goodwin play, showed that they thrive with the prospects on the court.

With Jones drawing a crowd, Casey Wilmath made five three-pointers and scored 19 points for Searcy and Chris Blakley had 11.

“I feel good my team got invited to this and got to play in front of this crowd,” Jones said.

Larry Ziegler scored 14 for Sylvan Hills and Trey Smith added 11.

Davis said that as long as his players know their roles, there should be plenty of work for everyone.

“Archie is such a great player in that two-guard spot for us pitching ahead in the open floor,” Davis said. “He can do some just amazing things and that’s where he’s best. So we just allow our system to come to him and keep teaching that team concept.”

For Goodwin, who has been courted by the biggest names in college basketball — North Carolina, Kentucky and Kansas to name a few — it was a chance to raise his already high profile.

Goodwin hopes to have his choices whittled to 10 by the end of the school year.

“I got to perform in front of a lot of coaches and just let them know I haven’t fallen off,” Goodwin said.

“I’m still working hard in the gym every day and hopefully they’ll keep coming for me and hopefully one day I’ll get to the final decision where I’m going to go.”

For Jones, with his scholarship to Ole Miss locked up, it was a chance to get in yet another game with his teammates in his last high school season and sharpen his skills for what Searcy hopes is a 6A state championship run.

“Now that that’s all over I can focus on my last year of high school,” Jones said. “This is great.

This is like the teams that we’re going to play in our conference every night.”