Not only is Henderson a top-100 player in the Class of 2018, but he gives Arkansas four commitments in the Class of 2018 — and commitments from the entire starting five of the Arkansas Hawks 16U team.
Henderson is joined in the Class of 2018 by four-star forward Reggie Perry, three-star guard Desi Sills and three-star guard Isaiah Joe. Class of 2019 in-state guard Justice Hill, the other starter on that Arkansas Hawks team, is also pledged to the Razorbacks. Having commitments from five starters from the same AAU program is unprecedented in recruiting — especially when most college programs don’t have four commitments from the Class of 2017 yet.
Regarded as the No. 85 overall prospect in the Class of 2018, according to Rivals, Henderson is a nice fit for what head coach Mike Anderson wants to do as he moves well and rebounds at a high level.
With Anderson sitting on the hot seat due to a lack of NCAA tournament appearances, it’ll be interesting to see if this jump in recruiting helps with his job security. Obviously, winning and making postseason appearances is vital to Anderson retaining his job, but it will make the Arkansas athletic department think a little bit harder if they need to make a decision. Henderson and Perry are legitimate top-100 prospects and the Hawks have been one of the most successful AAU teams at that age group in the country the last few years so owning commitments from all of them certainly doesn’t hurt.
Arkansas gets commitment from four-star 2018 forward Reggie Perry
Arkansas continued its recent recruiting momentum on Wednesday as four-star Class of 2018 forward Reggie Perry pledged to the Razorbacks with an announcement on Twitter.
The 6-foot-8 Perry is regarded as the No. 73 overall prospect in the country in the Rivals Class of 2018 national rankings. He becomes the second Arkansas commitment in the Class of 2018 after in-state, three-star guard Isaiah Joe.
Although head coach Mike Anderson has struggled for success that has led for some to put him on the hot seat, he’s recruiting at a high level right now.
Arkansas has three in-state commitments in the Class of 2017, headlined by a top-40 big man in Daniel Gafford. That class is considered top 10 in the country right now and the Razorbacks now have two commitments in the Class of 2018, including Perry.
Anderson has missed the NCAA tournament in four of five years at Arkansas, but if this year’s team showed progress with the kind of recruiting that he has coming in, would it be enough to keep his job? The Razorbacks are hoping to be successful enough to not answer that question, but Arkansas does have a decent future if all of these commitments ends up on campus.
Arkansas received some good news Monday afternoon, as junior power forward Moses Kingsley announced that he will withdraw his name from the NBA Draft and return to Fayetteville for his senior season. After playing sparingly in his first two seasons Kingsley took a major step forward in the Razorbacks’ first season without Bobby Portis, averaging 15.9 points, 9.3 rebounds and 2.4 blocks in 29.5 minutes per game.
Kingsley earned second team All-SEC and All-Defensive team honors as a result of his junior season, and in 2016-17 he’ll be the leader of a front court that should be better than it was this past season. Junior college all-american Arlando Cook joins the program, and Colorado transfer Dustin Thomas will be eligible to compete as well.
Rounding out the front court rotation will be redshirt sophomore Trey Thompson and incoming freshman Adrio Bailey, with the 6-foot-9 Thompson looking to improve upon the 3.1 points and 4.3 rebounds he averaged in 17 minutes per game last season.
LATE NIGHT SNACKS: Another ranked team, No. 5 Texas A&M, falls
The Black Bears surpassed their conference win total from a season ago Wednesday night, moving to 3-4 in America East play with a five-point overtime win at Hartford (they went 2-14 in league play last season). Aaron Calixte scored 23 points and Till Gloger 22 to lead the way for Bob Walsh’s team, with Hartford’s Pancake Thomas leading all scorers with 29 points. Trailing by seven with 2:10 remaining in overtime, Maine went on a 12-0 run to grab control of the game.
Arkansas 74, No. 5 Texas A&M 71: The Razorbacks picked up a nice win at home, holding off the Aggies who suffered their first loss in SEC play. Anthlon Bell and Dusty Hannahs scored 17 apiece and Moses Kingsley posted a double-double with 18 points and 11 rebounds on the night for the winners. As for the Aggies, despite Danuel House scoring 24 they were out of character for most of the game and that cost them in the end.
Clemson 73, Pittsburgh 60: The Tigers finished off what at first glance appeared to be an arduous five-game stretch with a 13-point win over the Panthers, going 4-1 with the lone defeat coming at Virginia. Jaron Blossomgame scored 22 points to lead four Clemson players in double figures, and defensively they limited Pitt to 38.2 percent shooting.
But here’s the question to be asked in the aftermath of this game: should there be concern over Pittsburgh’s résumé? Their best non-conference win came over Davidson, and their best ACC wins came against Syracuse (sans Jim Boeheim) and Notre Dame. That three-game stretch of Virginia (2/6), at Miami (2/9) and at North Carolina (2/14) looms large for Jamie Dixon’s team as a result.
No. 20 Kentucky 88, Missouri 54: Beating a bad Mizzou team like they stole something isn’t all that noteworthy. But the performances of Derek Willis and Skal Labissiere are noteworthy for Kentucky, especially when considering their chances of winning the SEC and playing deep into march. Labissiere didn’t grab a rebound, but in 18 minutes he accounted for 12 points and five blocks. As for Willis, he continued his run of good play by scoring 18 points and grabbing 12 rebounds. Over the last four games the junior’s averaging 12.3 points and 10.0 rebounds per game. If he can continue on that path, and Labissiere become a more consistent contributor, the Wildcats will be a far more dangerous team.
Josh Adeyeye, Jacksonville: 35 points, shooting 13-for-21 from the field, and eight rebounds in the Dolphins’ 78-69 win at FGCU.
Keon Johnson, Winthrop: Johnson shot 10-for-13 from three, scoring 36 points, in the Eagles’ 97-72 win over Charleston Southern.
Patrick McCaw, UNLV: 25 points, shooting 8-for-11 from the field, four rebounds, four assists and five steals in the Runnin’ Rebels’ 87-77 win over Boise State.
Mike Crawford and Jermaine Bishop, Saint Louis: Crawford and Bishop combined to shoot 3-for-20 from the field in the Billikens’ blowout loss at Dayton. As a team SLU shot 3-for-24 from three and 27.3 percent from the field.
Kareem Canty, Auburn: Canty struggled in a loss at Ole Miss, scoring eight points on 3-for-14 shooting from the field.
Wes Clark, Missouri: Clark scored 11 points in the Tigers’ loss at No. 20 Kentucky, but he did so on 3-for-16 shooting.
THE REST OF THE TOP 25
Damion Lee (29) and Trey Lewis (22) combined to score 51 points as No. 16 Louisville won 91-83 at Virginia Tech. As a team the Cardinals shot 12-for-18 from three and 52.9 percent from the field. Jalen Hudson (27) and Seth Allen (26) combined to score 53 for the Hokies, but their efforts were not enough.
No. 17 Baylor trailed by as much as 12 in the first half before coming back to beat Oklahoma State 69-65 in Stillwater. Taurean Prince scored 17 points and Rico Gathers Sr. added 16 points and nine boards for the Bears, who racked up 13 steals thanks in large part to increased activity in their 1-1-3 zone defense.
No. 21 Purdue, playing without injured forward Caleb Swanigan (ankle), held off Minnesota to win 68-64 at The Barn. Vince Edwards scored 24 points and grabbed eight rebounds to lead the way, with A.J. Hammons adding 16 points and eight boards.
No. 22 Wichita State has now won ten straight games, as they beat Loyola (Chicago) 80-54. Six Shockers scored at least eight points, with Shaquille Morris’ 12 leading the way, and Gregg Marshall’s team shot 53.8 percent from the field. By comparison, the Ramblers made just 39.2 percent of their field goals.
OTHER NOTABLE RESULTS
Coastal Carolina beat UNC Asheville 68-66 in overtime, dropping the Bulldogs into a three-way tie atop the Big South. UNC Asheville is now tied with High Point and Winthrop at 7-3, with those two picking up wins Wednesday night.
Three days after handing No. 13 SMU its first defeat, Temple did some harm to its résumé with a 64-61 loss at East Carolina. Prince Williams led three Pirates in double figures with 18 points.
Keep an eye on Saint Joseph’s in the A-10. The Hawks have now won six straight and 13 of their last 14 after beating UMass 78-70 in Philadelphia. Isaiah Miles, one of the nation’s most improved players, went for 27 and 12 in the win.
Also a game behind 7-0 VCU in the loss column is Dayton, which moved to 7-1 in the A-10 with a 73-37 win over Saint Louis. Kendall Pollard and Dyshawn Pierre combined for 30 points and 16 boards.
Navy’s six-game win streak came to an end, as the Midshipmen fell 63-58 at American to fall to 6-2 in Patriot League play. Bucknell, which was off Wednesday night, remains in first with an 8-1 record.
Josh Adeyeye went off for 35 points to lead Jacksonville to a 78-69 win at FGCU. Those two teams are now tied for second in the A-Sun with 4-2 record, with reigning champion North Florida (6-0) now having a two-game lead.
Seton Hall took care of business against St. John’s beating the Red Storm 79-60. That result won’t make waves, but that’s better than suffering a loss that can do some serious damage to a team’s tournament credentials.
Also in that category in the Big East is Butler, which beat DePaul 67-53. All three of the Bulldogs’ conference wins have come against the Blue Demons (twice) and St. John’s.
Duncan Robinson led four in double figures with 18 points as Michigan beat Rutgers 68-57 in Ann Arbor.
Georgia Tech went on the road and beat NC State 90-83, despite Cat Barber scoring a game-high 36 points. Three Yellow Jackets scored at least 20 points, with Marcus Georges-Hunt tallying 26.
Colorado moved to 5-3 in the Pac-12 with a 91-75 win over Stanford in Boulder. George King scored 23 points off the bench and Josh Fortune added 21 for the Buffaloes.
UC Irvine remained undefeated in Big West play with a 73-63 win at CSUN. The Anteaters are now 17-5 overall, which represents their best start to a season since 2000-01.
Jakob Poeltl scored 21 points and grabbed nine boards and Brandon Taylor and Kyle Kuzma added 15 apiece as Utah beat California 73-64. The Golden Bears are now 1-7 away from Haas Pavilion this season.
When Patrick McCaw plays well, so does UNLV. The sophomore dropped 25 on Boise State as the Runnin’ Rebels won 87-77. Stephen Zimmerman Jr. added 18 and eight boards and Derrick Jones Jr. 17 for UNLV, which is now 4-1 under interim head coach Todd Simon.
Turnovers, poor shooting cost No. 5 Texas A&M at Arkansas
With 10 straight wins since a 13-point loss at Arizona State in early December, No. 5 Texas A&M emerged as the class of the SEC thanks to multiple scoring options, taking good care of the basketball and a solid defense. However those first two strengths weren’t present in Fayetteville Wednesday night, as the Aggies struggled to knock down shots and avoid turnovers.
The end result was a 74-71 loss at the hands of Arkansas, ending Texas A&M’s winning streak and also handing them their first loss in SEC play.
Entering Wednesday night no team in the SEC took better care of the basketball than Texas A&M, which turned the ball over on just 15 percent of its possessions in conference play. That wasn’t the case against Arkansas, as the Aggies coughed the ball up on 28.4 percent of their possessions (21 turnovers). Arkansas used pressure at times but it was more of the token variety, looking to take time off of the shot clock as opposed to speeding things up to the “Fastest 40 Minutes in Basketball” level that we’d grown accustomed to seeing from Mike Anderson-coached teams.
But Texas A&M made more mistakes in the half-court, with four starters having at least three turnovers on the night (Jalen Jones had five and Alex Caruso four, and some dubious offensive foul calls didn’t help either). Texas A&M was fortunate that Arkansas was unable to convert those turnovers into more points on the other end, as the home team scored 15 points off of Aggie turnovers.
Yet in dodging that bullet Texas A&M was unable to get over the hump as multiple key scorers struggled offensively. Outside of Danuel House (24 points, 7-for-12 FG) and Tyler Davis (14 points, 3-for-6 FG, 8-for-9 FT) the efficiency wasn’t there for a team that in conference games ranked second in the SEC in adjusted offensive efficiency per Ken Pomeroy’s numbers. Arkansas remained solid defensively, forcing Texas A&M to make challenged looks and at 39.6 percent shooting the Aggies were unable to do so at a high enough clip to get the win.
The question now is what do we make of Texas A&M, whose lead atop the SEC is down to one game in the loss column with their loss (LSU and Kentucky are 6-2, with South Carolina 5-2). While impressive in their seven wins to open SEC, Texas A&M’s best wins came at home against Florida and LSU.
The Aggies should still be viewed as the favorites to win the SEC, but they won’t lack for challengers either with games against each of the three teams directly behind them in the standings yet to be played. And the other games left on the schedule won’t be easy either, especially if the Aggies don’t take care of the ball as they have for the majority of their games this season.
Billy Kennedy’s team uncharacteristically struggled with turnovers against Arkansas, which was able to do enough to get the win.
SEC Preview: Kentucky’s favored, but watch for Vandy, Texas A&M
Beginning in October and running up through November 13th, the first day of the regular season, College Basketball Talk will be unveiling the 2015-2016 NBCSports.com college hoops preview package.
Today, we are previewing the SEC.
As has been the case for much of the recent past, the SEC shakes out like this: Kentucky, and then everyone else. Part of that is a result of just how good the Wildcats are and have been. Part of that is due to the fact that the SEC is a football league with the hoops side of things playing catchup. And while the gap is closing, it may be a few years before the impact is truly apparent.
FIVE THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW:
1. Kentucky is loaded again … obviously: It’s standard at this point. This group is likely not going to be making a run at 40-0 like last year’s group, but they will be making a run at a national title. Skal Labissiere will be the nation’s best big man. Jamal Murray, Tyler Ulis and Isaiah Briscoe will make up the nation’s best back court. Marcus Lee and Alex Poythress will get their shot, finally.
2. But they may not have the best freshman in the league: That title could end up going to LSU’s Ben Simmons, who, along with Skal, is a favorite to be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft. The Tigers are loaded with talent this year. Along with Simmons, they bring in McDonald’s All-American Antonio Blakeney, top 40 recruit Brandon Sampson and Arizona transfer Craig Victor. Throw in returnees like Tim Quarterman, Josh Gray and Keith Hornsby, and LSU, on paper, is a top 15 team. But head coach Johnny Jones has underachieved with talented rosters before. Is this the year they break through?
3. Vanderbilt will be the second-best team in the conference: It’s tough to call them a sleeper at this point because they’re getting plenty of pub, but the Commodores are the odds-on pick to finish second in the conference behind the Wildcats. They’re anchored by Damian James, who may be the most under-appreciated player in college basketball. The 6-foot-10 junior is a legitimate All-American candidate. Throw in talented sophomores Wade Baldwin IV and Riley LaChance, and another promising recruiting class, and head coach Kevin Stallings has more than enough pieces to put together something special in Nashville. Vandy won eight of their last ten regular season games last year after starting SEC play 1-7.
4. Coaching turnover: There has been an impressive influx of coaching talent into the SEC this year, although the league did lose arguably the best coach in the sport.
Billy Donovan left for Oklahoma City, leaving Florida in an interesting spot with new coach Mike White. More on them in a minute.
Former UCLA head coach Ben Howland took over for Rick Ray at Mississippi State and immediately reeled in Malik Newman, a top ten freshman in the class.
Donnie Tyndall was fired due to the scandal he was involved in at Southern Miss, but Tennessee went out and picked up former Texas coach Rick Barnes.
Alabama missed on Gregg Marshall but they did land Avery Johnson.
And don’t forget, in his second season at Auburn, Bruce Pearl has things rolling on the recruiting trail
5. Keep an eye on Texas A&M, too: Billy Kennedy is not a new hire by any stretch of the imagination, but his new assistant coach — Rick Stansbury — is already paying dividends on the recruiting trail. The Aggies have a loaded recruiting class, one that is going to be afforded the luxury of a year’s worth of seasoning as veterans Danuel House, Alex Caruso, Jalen Jones and Alex Robinson lead the way this year. This is a group that can reach the Sweet 16.
Favorite: “Kentucky. For sure. One pro leaves, and any pro comes in. Skal is as good as anyone they’ve had and Jamal Murray can play either guard spot, but Tyler Ulis will make them go. He can lead, and he’s perfect in his role with those other guys around them.
“Mississippi State is under the radar, with Malik Newman and Ben Howland coming in. But they’re starting to get attention, so I’ll go with South Carolina. They have a lot returning. Their ability to shoot is always a question, but [freshman P.J.]Dozier can really open things up.”
“Georgia. They’ve got really good guards and seemingly no one is talking about them.”
Best player: “Skal or Ben Simmons. Simmons versatility and his passing ability — he can use both hands as well as anyone — sets him apart.”
Most underrated player:
“[Mississippi State’s Craig] Sword on the wing. He’s as athletic as can be. His shooting can be streaky at times, he’s kind of hit and miss, but he will be better this year. He’s a really good fit in their system. Also, [Vandy’s Luke] Hornet has grown. He can really shoot it from deep, and with Damian Jones focal point, Luke’s ability to stretch the court will be key.”
“Stefan Moody. Dude is the SEC’s leading returning scorer and can’t even make a preseason watch list.”
PRESEASON SEC PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Skal Labissiere, Kentucky
I’m still of the belief that Labissiere is the best player on Kentucky and, feasibly, the most talented player in the entire country. He’s a seven-footer with a back-to-the-basket game, perimeter skills and a soft jumper and that shows up when he squares up opponents. The Anthony Davis comparisons are going to flow because the they’re both No. 1 recruits and centers at Kentucky with similar body-types, but Labissiere is much more skilled offensively and much less dominant defensively. Think LaMarcus Aldridge.
THE REST OF THE ALL-SEC FIRST TEAM:
Malik Newman, Mississippi State: Newman is a high-volume scorer that can drop 25 in a half without breaking a sweat. He’ll be playing on a team where he’s going to be asked to take a lot of shots. His efficiency numbers likely won’t be great, but he’s going to score a lot.
Damian Jones, Vanderbilt: For my money, Jones is the single-most underrated player in college basketball this season. He may be the best big man in the country this side of Labissiere.
Jamal Murray, Kentucky: I’m still not sold on Murray being a future NBA star, but based on his performance at the Pan-Am Games this summer, I think he’ll end up being a very good combo-guard in college.
Ben Simmons, LSU: Casual fans are going to love watching Simmons play. He’s a 6-foot-9 point forward that is so talented. He’d be the National Player of the Year if he was in a different program.
FIVE MORE NAMES TO KNOW:
Tyler Ulis, Kentucky
Tim Quarterman, LSU
Danuel House, Texas A&M
Stefan Moody, Ole Miss
Wade Baldwin IV, Vanderbilt
BREAKOUT STAR: Yante Maten, Georgia
Wade Baldwin IV of Vanderbilt was an intriguing pick here, but I’m going with Maten. The 6-foot-8, 240 pound big man was somewhat buried on Georgia’s bench as a freshman last season, averaging just 18.2 minutes while watching Marcus Thornton and Nikola Djurisic. But while his playing time was limited, Maten did manage to average 5.0 points, 4.3 boards and 1.4 blocks. He’ll now step into a starting role in Georgia’s front court.
COACH UNDER PRESSURE: Kim Anderson, Missouri
This is just Anderson’s second season in Columbia, but things have not gone well for him. The Tigers went 9-23 last season, finished just 3-15 in the SEC and lost their top two players — freshman Teki Gill-Cesear and sophomore Johnathan Williams III — to transfer. Does Anderson have what it takes to turn the program around? If the Tigers don’t show signs of improvement this season, he may not get a chance.
ON SELECTION SUNDAY WE’LL BE SAYING … : Kentucky isn’t the only team from the SEC eyeing a run to the Final Four. Ain’t that right, Vanderbilt?
I’M MOST EXCITED ABOUT: Watching those freshmen play. Skal Labissiere — assuming he eventually gets eligible — and Ben Simmons could end up going Nos. 1 and 2 in the 2016 NBA Draft, while Jamal Murray and Malik Newman won’t be all that far behind.
FIVE NON-CONFERENCE GAMES TO CIRCLE ON YOUR CALENDAR:
1. Kentucky: The Wildcats have a very strong argument to be the No. 1 team in the entire country heading into the season. Of course they’re going to be No. 1 in the SEC power rankings.
2. Vanderbilt: It’s hard not to love what Kevin Stallings brings back this season. One of the best X’s-and-O’s coaches in the sport has one of the nation’s best big men at his disposal and surrounds him with a myriad of talented shooters and scorers on the perimeter. I think this is a Sweet 16 team.
3. Texas A&M: The Aggies are in a great spot this year. Not only are they built for the future thanks to Billy Kennedy’s recruiting class, but they have enough veteran talent on their roster that they can make a run in an SEC that isn’t overly strong at the top. Daneul House and Alex Caruso get slept-on nationally.
4. LSU: From a talent perspective, LSU is second only to Kentucky in this league. But talent hasn’t kept Johnny Jones from underachieving before, so until this group proves that they can compete for an SEC title, I’ll expect them to be a borderline top 25 team that won’t feel comfortable about their NCAA tournament prospects until March.
5. Georgia: Georgia returns their veteran back court but graduates key pieces in their front court. The key to their season could end up being the development of YantTagse Maten. If he turns into an all-SEC caliber player, they should end up being a tournament team.
6. Florida: The Gators are one of the most interesting teams in college hoops this season. They lost Billy Donovan to the NBA after a disappointing year, but they also return plenty of elite talent from a team that was far more competitive than their record shows; no one in the country suffered more heart-breaking losses than the Gators last season, as it felt like they kept inventing new ways to lose basketball games. There’s talent, depth and athleticism on their perimeter (Kasey Hill, Chris Chiozza, Devin Robinson, KeVaughn Allen, Brandone Francis) and South Florida transfer John Egbunu will sneak up on some people on the interior. I wouldn’t be surprised if Mike White led this group to a top four finish in the league. I can also see them heading to the NIT.
7. Auburn: I think Bruce Pearl is still a year or two away from really making Auburn competitive in the conference. That said, to me, Pearl’s presence on the sideline makes the Tigers two or three games better in league play.
8. Ole Miss: Stefan Moody is back for the Rebels this season, but they lose a ton of talent off of last year’s tournament team. Moody will put up some big numbers, but the Rebels would do well to finish in the top half of the conference this season.
9. South Carolina: The Gamecocks have some sleeper potential this season. They return five of their top six players and add top 30 recruit P.J. Dozier to the mix. But will Dozier be the difference between finishing 6-12 last season and reaching the top half of the league this season?
10. Mississippi State: Ben Howland is a terrific coach and he has a dynamic lead guard in Malik Newman, but it’s going to take more than one year and one player to turn things around in Starkville.
11. Arkansas: Mike Anderson lost the underrated Bobby Portis and Michael Qualls to the NBA and had three players get arrested for using counterfeit bills. It was a rough offseason in Fayetteville.
12. Tennessee: Rick Barnes takes over for Donnie Tyndall in Knoxville. The Vols overachieved last season and lost their best player, Josh Richardson, to graduation. Barnes will build Tennessee back up, but it will take a few years.
13. Alabama: Avery Johnson did a great job landing Terrence Ferguson, a top 10 recruit in the Class of 2016, but he really could use Ferguson this season.
14. Missouri: The Tigers went 9-23 in Kim Anderson’s first season and then proceeded to lose their two best players to transfer during the offseason. It’s going to be a long year in Columbia.