‘The Basketball Match’

Admission is $10 for The Basketball Match. Tickets may be purchased online at www.evenbrite.com. Reserved seating is available. For more information, call 870-814-8484.

The Michael Hayes Scholarship Foundation will present The Basketball Match featuring teams that will be captained by professional basketball players Daniel Gafford and James Anderson and standout collegiate players from El Dorado and South Arkansas.

The event is set for June 3 in the El Dorado High School Wildcat Arena, 2000 Wildcat Drive.

Youth pre-games will begin at 6 p.m. and the main event will follow.

Gafford, a 2017 graduate of EHS, is a power forward/center for the Washington Wizards, a team he joined in 2021.

For The Basketball Match, Gafford will head up a team that includes former EHS teammates, Czar Perry and Brendan “B.J.” Johnson

In 2017, the trio led the Wildcats to the 6A state championship game, where El Dorado capped off a stellar season as runner-up to the Jonesboro Golden Hurricane.

Gafford and Perry were seniors at the time. Johnson was a sophomore.

All three went on to become standouts on their respective college basketball teams, Gafford for the Razorbacks; Perry, who impressed with stints at Northwestern State University in Louisiana, Holmes Community College in Mississippi, California State University, Bakersfield, and Arkansas Tech University in Jonesboro; and Johnson, who just wrapped up a season as a redshirt sophomore as a member of the Arkansas Tech University Wonder Boys and is a former member of the Northeastern State University RiverHawks.

Perry and Johnson served as teammates at Arkansas Tech during the 2021 – 2022 season.

Joining Gafford, Perry and Johnson is Davonte “Devo” Davis, who has proven to be a clutch player during his three seasons as a guard with the Arkansas Razorbacks basketball team.

Davis, a Jacksonville native, just closed out his junior year with the Razorbacks and was named to the SEC All-Defensive Team.

In March, he announced his intent to enter the 2023 NBA draft, adding that he will maintain his collegiate eligibility for a potential return to the Razorbacks.

Squaring up against Gafford’s team will be an Anderson-led squad that includes former Razorback, Derrian Ford; former Southern (Magnolia) Arkansas University Mulerider Colby Dismuke; and Kenny Hunter of the (Ruston) Louisiana Tech University Bulldogs.

Anderson graduated from Junction City High School in 2007, having led the Dragons to a Dual State crown and the 2A state title during his senior year.

The Junction City phenom dropped 43 points in the championship game against Jessieville and earned the state finals MVP award.

Throughout his high school playing career, Anderson racked up more than 3,000 points and as a senior, he averaged 38.4 points, 11 rebounds, four assists and five steals per game.

The 6-6 shooting guard was named to the El Dorado News-Times and Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Player of the Year lists and landed a spot on the 2007 McDonald’s All-American Team.

Anderson signed to Oklahoma State University and continued to make big plays for the Cowboys.

By his junior year in 2009 – 2010, Anderson was averaging 22.3 points per game and had amassed 1,811 career points.

Fresh off being named the Big 12 Player of the Year, Anderson entered the 2010 NBA draft.

He proved to be a journeyman player for the NBA, starting off as the 20th overall draft pick for the San Antonio Spurs.

Anderson played only six games for the Spurs before he was sidelined by a foot injury and re-assigned to the NBA D (development) League’s, now the G (Gatorade League), Austin Toros to get back into playing shape.

He was recalled by the Spurs twice before the 2010 – 2011 NBA season ended.

The team chose not to exercise Anderson’s player option and he became a free agent.

He was signed by the Atlanta Hawks in September of 2012 and was waived by the team the following month.

For the next three years, Anderson oscillated between the NBA minor league and major team rosters, including a second stint with the Spurs, the Houston Rockets, Philadelphia 76ers and the Sacramento Kings.

He spent one year overseas with a Lithuanian pro team in 2014 and in 2016, he found homes with Turkish and Russian teams overseas.

In 2022, Anderson landed with his current team, the UCAM Murcia CB, a top team in the Spanish basketball league system.

Ford, a 2022 graduate of Magnolia High School, led the Panthers to three state basketball championships before committing to the U of A.

Earlier this month, the Magnolia Banner News reported that Ford appeared in 21 games during the Razorbacks’ 2022 – 2023 season and clocked 80 minutes of playing time, averaging 3.8 minutes per game, but did not start in any games.

Ford scored 15 points, sank seven of eight free throws and grabbed 10 rebounds for the season. He also recorded eight assists.

He entered the NCAA’s College Transfer Portal in late April.

The transfer portal permits student athletes to place their name in an online database to declare their desire to transfer to another school.

Athletes inform their school of their desire to transfer and the school has two business days to enter the athlete’s name in database.

Coaches and staff for teams from other schools are then allowed to contact athletes who may have an interest in visiting the school’s campus and accepting a scholarship offer.

On Friday, Ford announced that he had committed to the Arkansas State University Red Wolves for the 2023 – 2024 season.

Dismuke and Hunter round out Anderson’s team.

Dismuke, a native of Waldo, was a standout guard for the Magnolia High School Panthers who helped the squad clinch its second consecutive 5A Southwest Conference crown and advance to the quarterfinals of the 5A state tournament against McClellan Hugh School in 2010.

Colby went to play for the SAU basketball team and he became an unrestricted free agent after going undrafted in the 2019 NBA draft.

The Michael Hayes Scholarship Foundation was created in 2010 by Hayes’ family to award scholarships to two graduating high school seniors in the area each year.

Hayes, a 1997 graduate of EHS, died in an automobile accident on Iron Mountain Road on 2002.

Hayes was actively involved with the Boys and Girls Club of El Dorado, and in 2010, his family, including younger brother Jeremy “Jayo” Owens, decided to continue his love of helping youngsters by launching a scholarship fund in his name.

Admission is $10 for The Basketball Match. Tickets may be purchased online at www.evenbrite.com. Reserved seating is available.

For more information, call Owens at 870-814-8484.

El Dorado News-Times