FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – A day after forward Michael Washington and guard Stefan Welsh inked with the Razorbacks, Arkansas-Fort Smith wing Sonny Weems became part of head coach Stan Heath’s recruiting class for next year following a press conference on the UAFS campus.
Weems is the No. 1 junior college player in the nation, according to both Juco Junction (Rivals.com), and Street and Smith’s.
“He is a very exciting player,” Heath says. “To add a player with two years of experience who is a native Arkansan is big for us. He will make an immediate impact.”
Weems, who is from West Memphis, averaged 17 points, five rebounds, two assists and two steals as a freshman in earning third-team All-America honors in addition to making all-conference and all-region first teams for head coach Jeremy Cox.
Weems led UAFS to a 29-4 record, the Bi-State Conference East Division title and a second-place finish in the Region II tournament. He chose Arkansas after also considering Tennessee, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, Memphis and Baylor, among others.
“He will excel in our up-tempo style,” Heath says. “He’s great in the open court. He’s very unselfish and does more than score. He has a lot of skill in several areas and could be a premier defender in the SEC next season.”
Weems, who high-jumped 6-10 in high school, led West Memphis to the Class 5A state championship in 2004. He was a double-figure scorer and averaged a team-best 14 rebounds as the Blue Devils ended the season with a 26-game winning streak.
Washington is a 6-10, 230-pound forward from McGehee, Ark., who is playing this season at Genesis One Christian School in Mendenhall, Miss. Last year, he prepped at Cleveland (Texas) Heritage Christian and was ranked the No. 1 junior in the state by one recruiting service after averaging 26 points, 14 rebounds, eight blocked shots, four assists and three steals on a 23-9 team. At McGehee the previous season, he averaged 21.7 points, 12.3 rebounds, 3.2 blocked shots, 1.7 assists and 1.2 steals. Rivals.com lists Washington as the No. 23 player in the nation and the No. 5 power forward.
Welsh is a 6-3, 180-pound combo guard who played at Newport News (Va.) Woodside High School the previous year, where he averaged 20 points, five assists and four steals. He is rated the No. 69 player in the country by Basketball Times and No. 98 by Scout.com.
“With the addition of Sonny, these three guys, along with Gary Ervin who is sitting out this year, give us a class with a high energy level,” Heath says. “They have great intensity across the board and will be an exciting class for our fans to watch.”
Rivals ranks Arkansas’ class No. 22 in the nation and third-best in the Southeastern Conference behind Kentucky (No. 11) and Tennessee (No. 12). The Atlanta Journal Constitution ranks UA’s class No. 1 in the SEC.