Otis Kirk's Recruiting 360: Dream Remains A Reality at Real Deal in the Rock Tourney

by Otis Kirk, HawgSports.com Recruiting Analyst  on Thursday, Mar. 31, 2011 10:30 am  

This story is from the archives of ArkansasSports360.com.

It started with a dream and now has grown into the nation's best prep basketball tournament.

The Real Deal in the Rock will be held April 15-17 in Little Rock. It will be the seventh year for Bill Ingram and his staff to hold this event. Originally called the Real Deal on the Hill, the tournament moved to Little Rock in 2009 and has continued to grow even beyond Ingram's initial dreams and hope.

"The normal lifespan for a tournament is three years," Ingram said. "If a tournament makes it past three years it will last as long as you want."

Ingram, Mike Conley and others associated with the Arkansas Hawks AAU organization modeled the Real Deal based upon their observations of how several tournaments were held and conducted nationwide. This year, the Real Deal may have as many as 600 teams in it.

"I never dreamed it would be this big," Ingram said. "Actually, at first, that wasn't my intention to get so big. We still have teams coming in for this year and we're over 500 teams now. I don't know where I will cut it off, but we will cut the registration off next Monday or Tuesday. We have enough gyms for 600 teams, but I don't know if we will take that many."

Ingram said a quick look at rosters of NBA teams and NCAA Tournament teams shows what kind of talent has come through this event in the first six years.

"The MVP of the NBA will likely be Derrick Rose (Chicago) and he played in this event," Ingram said. "Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City) played in it. North Carolina and Ohio State each had four players who played in the Real Deal. Kentucky has at least four who played in it, Butler has two, Kemba Walker (UConn) played in it and VCU has a player who played in it."

Ingram said this year's event has the same potential as the ones in the past.

"For instance, the ESPNU Top 60, we have nine of the top-10 players in this year's tournament," Ingram said. "Most tournaments would be glad to get two or three players, we have nine. We have Andre Drummond (Connecticut), DaJuan Coleman (New York), Isaiah Austin (Texas), Shabazz Muhammid (Nevada) and Amile Jefferson (Pennsylvania) among our top players."

Among the Razorbacks that have played in this event are guard Courtney Fortson, forward Michael Washington, guard Rickey Scott, guard Mardracus Wade, forward Michael Sanchez and guard Rotnei Clarke.

"I think one of the biggest things about this event is getting knowledge about Arkansas out there," Ingram said. "I would guess that at least 50 percent of the people who play in this event have never been to Arkansas. When they hear of Arkansas, they think of Wal-Mart. Now, some people remember Arkansas by this tournament and the good experience they had here. At the Sugar Bowl, I ran into some Ohio State fans who had relatives play in this tournament and said good things about Arkansas."

So, with the tournament growing each year and the basketball popularity at a recent high due to Arkansas' hiring of Mike Anderson, Ingram reflected back on why he thinks the tournament has not only survived, but actually thrived.



Please read our comments policy before commenting.