Serving a fresh batch of "David's Appetizers," assorted musings on the sports scene:

Pennell and recruiting

University of Central Arkansas men's coach Russ Pennell, who has greatly expanded the Bears' recruiting footprint, made a bold statement at Monday's Bearbackers luncheon.

"We've recruited our last bad player from Arkansas," he said.

He aims high. He noted that the first college offers for Arkansas' Daniel Gafford and Wichita State's Austin Reeves, both Arkansas high school stars, came from UCA. There was probably a slim chance of getting those at the time but Pennell didn't hesitate on the offer.

This year's early signiing includes 6-4 guard Khaleem Bennett of Sunrise Christian Academy in Wichita, Kan., whom Pennell describes as his most highly regarded signee to date.

With the success or Jordan Howard (from Phoenix) and the aggressive recruiting of players across the country, Canada and other countries, Pennell notes the school sells itself.

"Some of our recruits think Central Arkansas may be a log cabin or a school in a strip mall; they don't know what to expect," Pennell said. "Then, they walk on campus and say, 'Oh my gosh.' when they see the campus and what we have to offer and they see how they can step in and play immediately. When Bennett visited, he was blown away. And the attention in the national media that Jordan Howard has brought and now Hayden Koval for his triple double, you can't put a price tag on that.

"I think our reputation is often better outside of Arkansas than inside the state."

Prep schools

Several of UCA's latest recruits have come from academies or prep schools, whee players have been able to gain experience after high school.

"It has worked out well for us," Pennell said. "What it amounts to is you're getting a redshirt year without going to college. As freshmen, they already have been away from home and are not likely to get homesick. They are more used to travel. They've also gained experience in playing good competition in different situations."

Nolan Richardson Court

University of Arkansas students have started the ball rolling to name the court at Bud Walton Arena in honor of Nolan Richardson, who led the Razorbacks to a national championship in 1994.

Richardson left Arkansas after an strained and sometimes  tumultuous relationship with athletic director Frank Broyles, resulting in legal proceedings.

Time has healed much of that and Richardson and Broyles seemed to reconcile before Broyles' death.

It's to tangibly honor Richardson, not only for what he accomplished at Arkansas but as a pioneer for African-American coaches.


Arkansas State has threatened the University of Miami with a suit over Miami's failure to pay a $650,000 cancellation fee after the Hurricanes declined to travel to Jonesboro because of Hurricane Irma. ASU officials offered to pay for air travel and housing in Memphis until the Miami team could travel to and from safely.

Seems to me, ASU has a strong case. If I plan a trip somewhere and don't take out travel insurance and can't make the trip because of different issues, sickness and a family emergency or even have to change the date of fllights, I am usually obligated to pay a cancellation fee.

Not having the Miami game in Jonesboro cost the school and the city's merchants.

Fair is fair.

Sports editor David McCollum can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @dmaclcd.