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Beasts of the East comfortable on, off the gridiron

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Sports Editor

I finally have an answer to those old Wendy's commercials from the early 1980s.

You know the ones. The little old lady looks over a paltry-sized hamburger while shouting out, "Where's the beef?"

Well, my friends, I have seen the beef.

And what a collection of beef it was as the East Boys' Basketball All-Stars took the floor June 17 at Bud Walton arena.

Looking at just the difference in the physiques of the East team, compared with their West counterparts, was amazing.

While the West had a trio of 6-6 players, Jermaine Templeton (Morrilton), Memo Rodriquez (Fort Smith Christian), Cash Covington (Eureka Springs) and the 6-11 Nick Burcham from Ozark, they looked positively shrimpy next to the beasts from the East.

First, Desma McCoy from West Memphis walked by. Listed at 6-5, McCoy could pass for a Charles Barkley look-alike.

All McCoy did his senior season was help the Blue Devils to the Class AAAAA state title, while playing on what many consider the best high school team in state history.

Then came Little Rock Parkview's Marc Winston. An All-State tight-end recruited by every major college football power, the 6-6 Winston strode across the floor like the Hulk. It's a safe bet that the football players playing in the All-Star gridiron game the next evening were glad the U of A signee was playing on the hardwood instead of grass. Winston will be on football scholarship in Fayetteville next year -- and good news Hog fans -- he plans to walk-on the hoops team.

In the layup line next to Winston was East Poinsett County's Marcus Monk, the Arkansas High School Player of the Year in basketball.

And, by the way, the 6-6 Monk just happens to be a pretty good wide receiver as well. Monk will join Winston on the Razorback football squad next year, and he also plans to walk-on the basketball team, much to the joy of Stan Heath, along with Hog fans everywhere.

Gaining 25 pounds since EPC won the Class AAA basketball title this year, Monk looks every bit the part of major college wideout.

But taking the cake for the East All-Stars was Gosnell's Jeremy Parnell. The 6-9 Parnell, bound for Ole Miss next year, appeared like he might be a good stand-in for The Rock in the next WWE Summer Slam.

Not only gridiron-ready, the East All-Stars also flashed some nifty moves on the court as well.

Monk had a pair of breath-taking slams, as did Parnell. Parnell also jumped completely over a West player who stopped on the baseline for a head-fake, knowing the menacing shot blocker was nearby.

Winston dished out an assist, and McCoy moved block-to-block with the feet of a dancer.

So, if beating the West by 22 points wasn't enough, the East All-Stars could be confident in the fact that the margin of victory would probably have been greater if a football game broke out.

Something of an authority on football, University of Arkansas athletics director Frank Broyles said, "My goodness. Will you look at the size of those guys? I know Stan is as excited as Houston (Nutt) is to get those two guys (Winston and Monk) in uniform next year."

And therein lies the beef.



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