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wholehogsports.com-Your source for Arkansas Razorback news
Ron Huery recently gave an oral commitment to attend Arkansas, but this time around it had nothing to do with bouncing basketballs."I'm planning on coming back to Arkansas next year," said Huery, who turns 35 today."I've got 29 hours left to complete my degree."Funny thing is, Huery's already logged more than enough hours to earn a degree from a different kind of school, the one offering a major in hard knocks."Man, you wouldn't believe some of the things that have happened in my life," Huery said."My life could be a best-seller."Huery's story, at least as far as Razorbacks fans are concerned, started with his starring at Memphis' Whitehaven High School, where he won a state championship and caught the eye of college recruiters nationwide.Enter Nolan Richardson, who convinced Huery to take a chance and spend his college days in Fayetteville, and the plot thickens.Huery arrived at Arkansas in the fall of 1986, the first big-name recruit to sign with Richardson, thereby endorsing the "40 Minutes of Hell" playing style Richardson was trying to establish in a state that cut its basketball teeth under the watch of Hank Iba disciple Eddie Sutton.Huery, a 6-7 forward, was an immediate success.He averaged 11.7 points a game as a freshman, helping take Arkansas into the National Invitation Tournament.He averaged 13.4 points and was named All-Southwest Conference the next season as the Razorbacks advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the first time under Richardson.There seemed to be a direct pipeline from Memphis to Fayetteville after Huery signed with Arkansas, with players funneling to Richardson during his most dynamic seasons as Boss Hog.Problem was, as hard as Huery played on the court, he often partied even harder away from it.Drinking, drugs -- you name it, Huery dabbled everywhere."I was a great people person, I was a great school person, I was a great basketball person," Huery said."But I wanted to go to the [NBA], and I was spending so much time working on my game that it took its toll.I found out the hard way I couldn't please everyone."There was a pistol-waving incident at a fraternity house on campus, too, and Huery soon found himself separated from the game he thought was his ticket to fortune and fame.He sat out the 1988-1989 season -- Day's, Mayberry's and Oliver Miller's first at Arkansas -- because of a suspension, his future cloudy.Huery rebounded, coming back to play a vital although supporting role as the Razorbacks roared to the 1990 Final Four in Denver.Arkansas made it as far as the Elite Eight the next season, and Huery ended his career with his name sprinkled throughout the Razorbacks' record book.He still ranks in the top 10 in five career categories, including fourth in assists, and is 12th on Arkansas' all-time scoring list.Trouble brewingThe NBA didn't come calling, and Huery began a ricocheting run through the Continental Basketball Association."I played for just about every team in the CBA," he said.Huery still held tightly to his dreams of playing in the NBA, but a real-life nightmare was just around the corner.In 1994, Huery was placed on eight years' probation after pleading guilty to unlawful possession of cocaine with intent to sell, two counts of second-offense drunk driving, and driving on a revoked license.His basketball career and life were spinning out of control.Eight years later, Huery said he still hasn't driven, a result of the $3,000 in fines and interest Huery owes the city of Memphis from his traffic violations.Until the fines are settled, Huery can't get a driver's license.The recent auction of Huery's Final Four ring on eBay.com should take care of half his debt.That still leaves $700 unpaid, but Huery, who earns minimum wage driving a forklift in Memphis, is upbeat."I spent a lot of time looking for my hoop dream just like a lot of other people, but God showed me there's a goal higher than 10 feet," Huery said.That goal, Huery said, is to complete his degree work in secondary education and work with at-risk children."I want to deal with kids that people never gave a chance," he said."I know what that's like, and that's what God put upon my heart."Religion helpsHuery said he became a born-again Christian five years ago, after ending his playing career and moving back to Memphis.He has bounced from job to job since then, trying to stay ahead of his bills while being limited in employment options because of his lack of a driver's license.The endeavor to pay off his traffic debts, and a meeting with Richardson in January, have renewed Huery's hope he can finish what he started at Arkansas nearly 16 years ago.Huery met with Richardson in his former coach's hotel room before Arkansas' game with Memphis last season."Coach Richardson's been on my tail for 10 years, telling me I have to come back and get my degree," Huery said."Trust me, he's stayed on me hard for a long time, and I'm glad he did."Huery said he intends to stay in Memphis for another year, watching his son, Joshua Stafford, a 6-3 sophomore point guard at Sheffield High School.After that, Huery hopes to lead by example."I want to show my son how important it is to graduate," he said.Besides, Huery said with a laugh, his son might soon be the one making an oral commitment, and the recruiting already has begun."We need to get this Memphis thing started again."Peacock Golf