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RECRUITING Highly ranked class for Hogs needed in SEC

Rivals.com rates Arkansas' class No. 16 in the nation, but it also rates the SEC the No. 1 conference in recruiting. In the SEC, Rivals.com rates Arkansas No. 5 behind Florida (9), Tennessee (10), Alabama (13) and Vanderbilt (15). Kentucky (21) and Georgia (28) are also among its top 30 classes.

UCLA's class is rated the best in the nation, and a great class got better Friday when Dallas South Oak Cliff center J'Mison Morgan, 6-10, 275 pounds, joined the Bruins. Morgan signed early with LSU but was granted a release when John Brady was fired as head coach during the season. UCLA has five players in its class, including No. 2 Jrue Holiday, 6-3, 200, a point guard from North Hollywood (Calif.) Campbell Hall. All five players are among Rivals.com's top 50 nationally.

"It's not often that you see a program bring in five top-50 prospects in one recruiting class," Rivals.com national basketball recruiting analyst Jerry Meyer said. "In fact, UCLA's class could easily be on the floor together as freshmen. You have three stellar guards, led by Holiday, and then two post players." The rest of Rivals.com's top 10 nationally are, in order, Kansas, Wake Forest, Louisville, Memphis, Ohio State, Connecticut, Florida State, Florida and Tennessee.

The Gators signed five players, including Hollywood (Fla.) American Heritage power forward Eloy Vargas, 6-10, 210, who is rated No. 26 in the nation. Florida Coach Billy Donovan also added Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy IMG Academy center Kenny Kadji, 6-10, 240, who is rated No. 27 nationally.

The Volunteers pulled off a big surprise when Hopkinsville (Ky.) University Heights guard Scotty Hopson, 6-5, 185, signed with Tennessee after being an oral pledge to Mississippi State for several months. Rivals.com rates Hopson as the No. 5 player in the nation. Tennessee Coach Bruce Pearl signed five players, with three among the top 100 players nationally.

Alabama signed four players, with the headliner being Montgomery (Ala.) St. Jude power forward Jamychal Green, 6-8, 225, who is rated No. 21 in the nation. Coach Mark Gottfried signed two others rated in the top 100 nationally and a junior college point guard.

Vanderbilt signed four players and all are among the nation's top 100 nationally.

Pelphrey added six players after granting releases from their scholarships for two who signed early. Arkansas lost Coffeyville (Kan.) Community College small forward Daniel Payne, 6-7, 200, in the late period but signed Cincinnati (Ohio) Harmony Prep swingman Jason Henry, 6-7, 190, and Cowley County (Kan.) Community College small forward Montrell McDonald, 6-6, 185.

McDonald had committed to Texas Tech. Henry can play small forward or shooting guard.

The Patterson (N.C.) School point guard Courtney Fortson, 5-10, 175, could be the point guard Arkansas fans have wanted in recent seasons, and Claremore (Okla.) Verdigris point guard Rotnei Clarke, 6-1, 185, may be the best shooter in the nation in this class. Clarke shattered every scoring record in Oklahoma.

Arkansas lost four inside players from last year's class, but Pelphrey added New Orleans Holy Cross forward Brandon Moore, 6-9, 215, and North Little Rock's Andre Clark, 6-10, 210. Clark came to Arkansas at midterm from a prep school after playing at North Little Rock.

Kentucky signed Henderson (Nev.) Findlay Prep point guard DeAndre Liggins, 6-5, 190, and three others. Georgia added five players, with Norcross (Ga.) Wesleyan power forward Howard Thompkins, 6-8, 225, rated the best at No. 30 in the nation. 

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