FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Forward Michael Sanchez of Sprindgale Har-Ber and guard Marcus Britt of Forrest City are the first Arkansas basketball signees for head coach John Pelphrey, and they join one of Sanchez’s teammates, Nate Rakestraw, as the newest members of the Razorbacks for the 2007-08 season.
Sanchez prepped with Rakestraw, who signed with Arkansas during the early signing period. Sanchez, a 6-8, 230-pound forward, and Britt, a 6-3, 180-pound guard, are the first UA signees for Pelphrey, who was named head coach on April 9.
Sanchez averaged 15.8 points, 13.8 rebounds and 7.0 assists in helping Har-Ber reach the Class 7-A championship game and finish 24-6 under head coach Eric Burnett. Sanchez notched a double-double in every conference game he played. In the state finals against Northside, he had 16 points on seven-of-14 shooting and seven rebounds. In the semifinal win over Rogers, he had 18 points and 14 rebounds.
“His mother and father both went to school here so he loves the Razorbacks,” Pelphrey says. “Michael is an outstanding basketball player. He has a lot of God-given athletic ability and has great leadership qualities.”
As a junior, he averaged 18 points and 11 rebounds on a 15-14 club, despite being hampered by tendonitis. As a sophomore, he averaged 18 points and 12 rebounds, and was ranked among the top 50 sophomores in the nation by Scout.com. He was also invited to the NBA Players Association Camp and the Reebok ABCD camp.
Sanchez was named first-team All-Arkansas, all-state and to the Class 7-A state all-tournament team as a senior. He was also named to the all-area team by The Morning News.
In a recent AAU game at the Pitt Jam Fest against the Michigan Mustangs, Sanchez had 25 points and 15 rebounds for the Arkansas Hawks. He averaged 20 points and 13 rebounds as the Hawks went 4-1 in Pittsburgh. Earlier this spring, he averaged 21 points and 11 rebounds in the Real Deal on the Hill AAU tournament.
“Michael is the type of player we want to be around on a daily basis,” Pelphrey says. “He is going to be a big, big part of the future of Razorback basketball.”
Sanchez signed with the Hogs after also considering Kentucky, Wake Forest, Colorado, Michigan, New Mexico, New Mexico State and Tennessee, among others.
Britt signed with Louisiana Tech during the early period, but was granted a release when head coach Keith Richard was fired.
“Marcus is a young man who also loves the Razorbacks,” Pelphrey says. “He had a tremendous prep career and will have the opportunity to compete as a freshman in our backcourt.”
The former Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Sophomore of the Year averaged 18 points, five assists and four rebounds as a senior, helping the Mustangs go 26-3 under head coach Dwight Lofton. Forrest City won the Class 6-A East Conference title and reached the state championship game before falling to Jonesboro, 83-72.
In the finals, Britt made six three-pointers and scored 27 points. In the 70-65 semifinal win over Little Rock Parkview, he scored 25.
As a junior, he averaged 18.5 points. A three-time all-state selection, he was named first-team All-Arkansas, all-state, all-conference and named to the Class 6-A state all-tournament team this year. He is rated as the No. 96 prospect in the nation by ’07 Hoops.
“Any time you ask anyone about Marcus Britt, they tell you how hard he competes and that he’s a winner,” Pelphrey says. “We’re excited about having him join our program.”
Britt signed with the Razorbacks after also considering South Florida and Colorado.
Rakestraw was also named all-state, to the state all-tournament team, to The Morning News’ all-area squad and third-team All-Arkansas after averaging 19.4 points and shooting 41.3 percent on three-pointers (78-181).
He made nine-of-14 shots, including three-of-six threes, and had 24 points and six rebounds for the Wildcats in the state championship game. He had 15 points against Little Rock-Catholic in the quarterfinals and 13 against Rogers in the semifinals.
Rakestraw, 6-5, is rated the No. 29 shooting guard in this year’s class by Scout.com. In the summer prior to his senior season, he averaged 27 points in AAU with the Arkansas Hawks and was a four-time all-tournament selection. As a junior, he averaged 18 points.
As a sophomore, he prepped at Siloam Springs (Ark.) High, and averaged 21 points, nine rebounds and three steals, and was named the Benton County Daily Record Sophomore of the Year.
He signed with Arkansas after also considering Tennessee, TCU, Ole Miss, Missouri, Missouri State and Arkansas State, among others.