2016-2017 Overall Rank: #108
Conference Rank: #10 SEC
Arkansas was not getting many SEC wins until late in the 2015-2016 season. They won four in a row prior to their season ending loss against South Carolina. The Razorbacks then went on to lose to Florida in the SEC tournament. But that four game winning streak pushed the Razorbacks up to a .500 record and built some important momentum heading into the 2016-2017 campaign. But it was still a big step back for the program. The return of Moses Kingsley, who flirted with the NBA Draft, gives Coach Mike Anderson a dangerous weapon in the paint and some hope moving forward. The 6-10 senior averaged 15.9 points, 9.3 rebounds and 2.4 blocks. There were concerns that Kingsley would not be aggressive enough to step into a starting role, but he proved that he could be so much more than just a shot blocker.
2015-16 Record: 16-16, 9-9
2015-16 Postseason: none
Coach: Mike Anderson
Coach Record: 102-64 at Arkansas, 302-162 overall
Anthlon Bell is the most significant loss for the Razorbacks. He averaged 15.7 points per game and knocked down a team high 89 three-pointers at a 44.1 percent clip. Outside shooting was one of the team’s few strengths last year and Bell was half of the equation. Jabril Durham was also a regular starter during his senior season, averaging 6.2 points and 6.4 assists. Losing a player who dished out that many assists and committed just 1.8 turnovers per game hurts immensely. Keaton Miles was another regular starter, but only averaged 15.0 minutes per game. He was good for some rebounds and blocked shots beside Kingsley though. Jimmy Whitt left after a freshman campaign in which he averaged 6.1 points per game and Willy Kouassi did not make much of an impact as a graduate transfer from Kennesaw State.
A lot can be said about Arkansas’ recent recruiting classes, but all that matters now is that this is a very, very good class. Coach Anderson brought in three junior college transfers and has Dustin Thomas eligible after sitting out as a transfer from Colorado. Thomas, a 6-8 junior, should be a nice complimentary player to Kingsley in the paint. Thomas is not going to score consistently, but he can hit the glass effectively. The junior college transfers could make an even bigger impact. Forward Arlando Cook is the least heralded of the trio of junior college transfers, but he could step into a starting role after averaging 16.0 points and 10.1 rebounds at Connors State College last season. According to most pundits, Jaylen Barford is the best player coming out of the junior college ranks this year. He averaged 26.2 points at Motlow State Community College and is expected to help fill the scoring void left by Bell. Daryl Macon can score in bunches too. He can also handle the ball. Freshmen Adrio Bailey, Brachen Hazen, C.J. Jones and RJ Glasper will also battle for minutes. Bailey, a 6-6 forward, and Hazen, a 6-8 forward, are the two who are the most likely to make a splash right away.
Who to Watch:
Macon and Barford could very well step right into starting roles, but the Arkansas backcourt has quite a bit of talent returning. Dusty Hannahs is not losing his starting job after averaging a team high 16.5 points per game in his first season with the Razorbacks. The former Texas Tech sharpshooter knocked down 43.3 percent of his three-point shots, but also did a very good job of attacking the basket and finishing in the paint. Anton Beard did not make a big jump in production as a sophomore, but he still ranked fourth on the team with 7.0 points per game. Manuale Watkins averaged 5.1 points per game and dished out 2.1 assists. Coach Anderson needs depth, especially in the backcourt, in order to run up and down the floor as much as he wants and he certainly has it this year.
The development of the junior college transfers on the perimeter will go a long way in determining how successful this season is for the Razorbacks, but so will the play of the frontcourt. Kingsley needs a break on occasion and somebody needs to help him out too. The expectations are high for Cook, but junior college transfers do not always work out. Trey Thompson will provide a more experienced option. The 6-9 forward averaged 17.3 minutes per game last season and played pretty well. He is not going to score much at all, but he is tough on the glass and a pretty good shot blocker too. This is a big season for Arkansas coming off of the disappointment of last year. This year should be better though and has the potential to be a lot better if all of the transfers can come close to living up to their hype.
Projected Postseason Tournament: CBI / CIT / V16
Projected Starting Five:
Daryl Macon, Junior, Guard, DNP last season
Dusty Hannahs, Senior, Guard, 16.5 points per game
Jaylen Barford, Junior, Guard, DNP last season
Trey Thompson, Junior, Forward, 3.1 points per game
Moses Kingsley, Senior, Forward, 15.9 points per game
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 78.2 (54th in nation, 3rd in conference)
Scoring Defense: 74.7 (247, 11)
Field-Goal Percentage: 44.3 (165, 6)
Field-Goal Defense: 43.5 (180, 12)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 6.8 (197, 10)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 39.7 (12, 1)
Free-Throw Percentage: 44.3 (165, 6)
Rebound Margin: 0.0 (191, 8)
Assists Per Game: 16.3 (27, 2)
Turnovers Per Game: 11.2 (41, 1)