Getty Images

Report: Daniel Gafford returning to Arkansas for sophomore season

1 Comment

Arkansas may already have its first win of the 2018-19 season.

Forward Daniel Gafford, a projected first-round NBA draft pick, is expected to return to school for his sophomore season rather than turn pro, according to a report from Scout’s Evan Daniels.

The 6-foot-11 Arkansas native averaged 11.8 points, 6.2 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game during his rookie campaign in Fayetteville. He shot 60.5 percent from the field.

His return his a major boon for coach Mike Anderson as it was widely expected that Gafford would be spending just one year in school before bouncing to the NBA. This June’s draft, however, looks to be especially strong in big men with Deandre Ayton, Marvin Bagley III and Michael Porter, Jr. leading the way. Next year could potentially be a weaker crop of bigs, which could move Gafford up draft boards dramatically should he have a strong sophomore season.

The Razorbacks went 23-12 last season and lost in the first round of the NCAA tournament to Butler.

Arkansas forward Kingsley withdraws name from NBA Draft

AP Photo/Sarah Bentham
Leave a comment

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.

Turnovers, poor shooting cost No. 5 Texas A&M at Arkansas

AP Photo
Leave a comment

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.

Beard set to make return to action for Arkansas after arrest

Associated Press
Leave a comment

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) Arkansas point guard Anton Beard will make his return to the court on Saturday after missing the season’s first nine games following a summer arrest on forgery charges.

Beard, named to the Southeastern Conference’s All-Freshman team last season for the Razorbacks (5-4), was arrested in July after Fayetteville police said he was seen using and exchanging counterfeit $20 and $50 bills.

He entered a pre-trial diversion program last month in an attempt to avoid prosecution, and Saturday’s game in North Little Rock with Mercer (8-2) will mark the end of his semester-long suspension.

“He feels grateful to have the opportunity still to be here,” Arkansas coach Mike Anderson said. “I am sure there are a lot of things he wants to correct. How do you correct that? By going out and doing the right thing. So, it’s a life lesson for him.”

Beard averaged 5.8 points in 18.9 minutes per game last season for the Razorbacks, who were 27-9 and finished runner-up in the SEC. He started the season’s final 16 games, including a pair in the NCAA Tournament, and he shot 35.2 percent on 3-pointers while also averaging a steal per game.

The 6-foot point guard wasn’t made available to speak publicly before his season debut, but Anderson said he’s been practicing with the Razorbacks for the last two weeks in preparation for his first game.

Arkansas has struggled at times this season to replace last season’s SEC Player of the Year, Bobby Portis, as well as second-leading scorer Michael Qualls. The Razorbacks were 2-3 following a pair of losses to Georgia Tech and Stanford in New York, but they have won three of four games since.

Without Beard, point guard Jabril Durham has flourished while averaging a team-high 30.8 minutes per game. The senior is second in the country with an average of 8.1 assists per game, and he’s also averaging nearly two steals per game.

Anderson said while Beard’s return will cut into Durham’s minutes somewhat, he expects both to become more efficient with their play – and that the two are likely to see action at the same time as Arkansas tries to extend its winning streak to three games.

“He’s not the savior,” Anderson said of Beard. “He’s just going to be a guy that’s going to come in and try to get back into the rhythm of things, because right now our guys are playing at a pretty good level.”

Nolan Richardson’s Hall of Fame speech (VIDEO)

Leave a comment

For 30 minutes on Friday night at Symphony Hall in Springfield, Massachusetts former Arkansas head coach Nolan Richardson spoke. It was lively, passionate, funny and emotional. Once he was done, he was officially enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

While other inductees remained standing at the podium, Richardson continued to move from side to side, engaging with his presenters — John Thompson and Tiny Archibald — who were seated on stage. Later in the evening, when it was Bob Leonard’s turn to speak, he asked Richardson “Where are you preaching next Sunday?”

He started off by thanking Thompson and John Chaney for being black college coaches he looked up to, as he tried to break into coaching. Richardson later reminisced on a funny story from the first time he heard about Larry Bird. He also chronicled his coaching career. Then, during his list of personal thank yous, he discussed the loss of his 15-year-old daughter.

In Richardson’s college coaching career at Tulsa and Arkansas, he won 509 games and led Razorbacks to the 1994 national championship.

ESPN college basketball analyst Jimmy Dykes named Arkansas women’s head coach

5 Comments

One of the more recognizable college basketball analysts will make a return to the sidelines for the 2014-2015 season.

On Sunday evening, ESPN college basketball analyst, Jimmy Dykes, will be introduced as the new Arkansas women’s head coach. An introductory press conference will be held at Bud Walton Arena at 6:30 p.m.

Dykes will replace Tom Collen, who coached the team for seven seasons.

“After meeting with him and discussing our program, it was clear to me that Jimmy Dykes is not only the best leader for our women’s basketball program, but also the best Coach for the student-athletes in our program,” Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics Jeff Long said in a statement. “I have known Jimmy for many years but learned of his passion and commitment to his alma mater, the University of Arkansas, when I arrived on campus.

“I have always respected his tremendous basketball knowledge and his understanding of the game, but as I got to know Jimmy better, l became aware of his strong coaching background including his tenures at some of the nation’s top college basketball programs. Jimmy’s coaching pedigree working with some of the best coaches in the business, combined with his ability to teach the game of basketball, made him the clear choice as the head women’s basketball coach at the University of Arkansas.”

This will be the first time Dykes serves as a women’s coach in his career. Before joining ESPN, he was part of coaching staffs at Sacramento State, Appalachian State University, Arkansas-Little Rock, Kentucky and Oklahoma State. His coaching career began at Arkansas, his alma mater, as an assistant under Eddie Sutton.

Arkansas finished 19-11 (6-10 SEC) this season.