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January 3, 2005

Is Texas big man interested in the 'Heels?

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Dozens of programs all across the nation are pursuing Darrell Arthur, who is ranked the No. 4 prospect in the nation from the class of 2006 by Rivals.com. But, North Carolina appears to be the only one outside of the Midwest that has managed to really captured the interest of the 6-foot-9, 215-pound power forward from South Oak Cliff High in Dallas, Texas.

"UNC, Texas, Kansas, Oklahoma and SMU are who he really likes right now," said Arthur's AAU coach Jazzy Harwell. "Of course, everybody likes him, but those are the programs I know he talks highly of."

Few of those schools may covet Arthur more than UNC, who wasn't able to land a pair of big men (Andrew Bynum and Richard Hendrix) they heavily targeted from the class of '05. Both chose to sign with programs much closer to home; Bynum going with Connecticut and Hendrix staying in-state and going with Alabama.

Convincing Arthur to move far away from Texas will be difficult as well. Not only is jumping to the NBA a strong possibility, but he is also very close with his family.

"Darrell has a little brother and a mom that he is very close to," Harwell said. "He also has a grandmother and grandfather here. He also has a father that lives in Houston that he has a relationship with.
"I also have two daughters that he treats like his own daughters, too."

Harwell began coaching Arthur back when he was a lanky 7-year-old and he describes him as a very versatile player who creates mismatches with nearly every opponent he faces.

"Darrell could easily play small forward in college," Harwell said. "He can shoot the trey like it's nothing and he can put the ball on the floor, too. He is a complete player."

Harwell says Arthur has outplayed Greg Oden, who is ranked the No. 1 recruit from the class of '06, in a handful of head-to-head matchups on the AAU circuit.

"Darrell and Greg have been playing against one another since the sixth grade," the coach said. "Darrell isn't 7-feet tall and can't block shots like Greg, but his offensive game is much more polished and he has tremendous upside."

Still, Harwell says it's Arthur's work ethic and unselfish attitude that really set him apart from other top prospects.

"Darrell is a phenomenal kid and a great person," the coach said. "He doesn't care about stats and he just wants to win. He hustles all the time and is an absolute gym rat."

It wasn't always that way.

"I remember picking up Darrell a few years ao for practice years ago and he didn't want to come," Harwell said. "He wanted to play baseball with his friends. Then, all of the sudden in the seventh grade, something seemed to click. Now I can't get him out of the gym."

Arthur, who won't turn 17 until March 25, hasn't really started to narrow down choice of schools, but the chance to play with or against a pair of fellow Texans may play a role. South Oak Cliff and AAU teammate Kevin Rogers, who is ranked the No. 35 prospect from the class of '05, has committed to Baylor and good friend Nic Wise, one of the top point guards from the class of '06, has committed to Arizona.

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