After making its first NCAA tournament appearance since 2008 last month, Arkansas will have two key personnel losses to account for as it looks to make a return trip next season.
One day after sophomore forward and SEC Player of the Year Bobby Portis announced that he would forego his final two seasons of eligibility to turn pro, junior guard Michael Qualls announced via his Twitter account that he will also be moving on. One of the best dunkers in college basketball, Qualls averaged 15.9 points and 5.3 rebounds per game for the Razorbacks in 2014-15.
— Mike Qualls (@Mr_WALKONAIR) April 15, 2015
“My time at the University of Arkansas has not only helped me grow as a basketball player, but also as a man and I’m very thankful for the guidance the coaching staff and everyone at the university has given me over my three years,” Qualls wrote. “After sitting down with my family I felt the best decision for me is to continue my basketball career as a professional. I’m ready to provide for my family and my son.”
DraftExpress ranks Qualls as the 40th-best prospect on its board of the top 100 draft-eligible players, and he was projected to be an early second-round choice in the 2016 NBA Draft. But even with the uncertainty that comes with being a second-round possibility, it’s clear that there are other motivating factors for Qualls as he makes this decision.
As for Arkansas, the losses of Portis and Qualls leave some significant holes to fill within their rotation. In addition to those two, the Razorbacks also lost seniors Alandise Harris and Rashad Madden. Freshmen Jimmy Whitt and Ted Kapita will look to compete for playing time in 2015-16 with players such as guards Anton Beard and Anthlon Bell and forward Moses Kingsley among the returnees.