#71 Arkansas Men's Basketball 2015-2016 Preview

Arkansas Razorbacks

2015-2016 Overall Rank: #71
Conference Rank: #7 SEC

Arkansas Team Page#71 Arkansas Men's Basketball 2015-2016 PreviewBuy Arkansas Basketball Tickets

Arkansas was clearly the second best team in the SEC last year, going 13-5 in conference play and 27-9 overall. That earned them a fifth seed in the NCAA Tournament, where they slipped past Wofford before losing to North Carolina with a trip to the Sweet Sixteen on the line. Coach Mike Anderson will have his hands full with this group. Decimated by graduation and early NBA entrants, the Razorbacks lack a superstar. The best option to step into a starring role is Anthlon Bell, a 6-3 senior. Last year Bell averaged 7.9 points per game and will have to step up his offense. He is a great shooter, but mixing up his game and getting to the basket more often is a must if Arkansas has NCAA Tournament hopes.

2014-15 Record: 27-9, 13-5
2014-15 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Mike Anderson
Coach Record: 86-48 at Arkansas, 286-146 overall

Who’s Out:
Bobby Portis and Michael Qualls left early for the professional ranks. Portis was selected 22nd overall, while Qualls went undrafted. During his sophomore season, Portis was a dominate force in the paint. He averaged 17.5 points, 8.9 rebounds and 1.4 blocks. He even dished out 1.2 assists per game and added 1.1 steals. That is a lot of production and Portis was one of those players who could change a game on so many levels. Qualls, a 6-6 guard, was second on the team behind Portis in scoring and rebounding, with 15.9 and 5.3, respectively. Rashad Madden and Alandise Harris were the senior leaders on last year’s team. Madden let Portis and Qualls do much of the scoring, but he was the player setting them up. During his senior year, Madden averaged 9.6 points and 4.6 assists. Harris, an athletic forward, stepped into the starting lineup last year and proved to be an effective frontcourt mate with Portis. So was Jacorey Williams, who is transferring. Also transferring is Nick Babb, who saw limited time as a freshman.

Who’s In:
This incoming group does not have the talent to replace all that Arkansas lost. Coach Anderson may have to rely quite heavily on transfers Dusty Hannahs and Willy Kouassi to emerge as experienced leaders on the team. Hannahs, a 6-3 guard, spent two seasons at Texas Tech. As a sophomore back in 2013-2014, he earned a handful of starts and averaged 7.7 points per game. At the least, Hannahs will be a very good outside shooting threat for Arkansas. Kouassi spent time at Auburn and Kennesaw State before making his way to Arkansas. The 6-10 center is not going to score much, but he can hit the glass and block a shot or two. Redshirt freshman Trey Thompson will be thrown into the fire up front as well. Lorenzo Jenkins, a 6-7 guard, has the size to help this team overcome their frontcourt deficiencies. But the most highly regarded incoming freshman is point guard Jimmy Whitt. Starting or not, he will find a way to make a big impact on this team right away.

Who to Watch:
Whitt will likely be competing with Anton Beard for minutes, but Coach Anderson could certainly play smaller and have two ball handlers on the floor at the same time. For this style of offense, it is certainly not a bad option and Coach Anderson has done it before. Beard can play off of the ball and knock down shots. That is what he did off of the bench as a freshman last year. Junior Manuale Watkins and senior Jabril Durham are also options on the perimeter. They both averaged at least ten minutes per game in 2014-2015. Much of the frontcourt production will depend on junior Moses Kingsley. He is a proven shot blocker, but will be asked to do more as an upperclassman. Last year, Kingsley averaged 3.6 points, 2.5 rebounds and 1.1 blocks in just 10.9 minutes per game. If he can keep that production up while playing 20 to 25 minutes per game, the Arkansas frontcourt will at least be serviceable.

Final Projection:
This may not be an NCAA Tournament team, but there is some talent here. The lack of experience is the big issue. Coach Anderson needs to find at least nine or ten players who can be in the regular rotation. They also need a star to step up and take over the team. Last year they had Portis, Qualls and Madden who could all fill that role. This year, they have Bell…maybe. This team will take a pretty big step back and it may take some time for everything to come together, but eventually the talent will shine through and Arkansas will pull off an upset or two in the SEC.

Projected Postseason Tournament: NIT

Projected Starting Five:
Anton Beard, Sophomore, Guard, 5.7 points per game
Anthlon Bell, Senior, Guard, 7.9 points per game
Dusty Hannahs, Junior, Guard, DNP last season
Moses Kingsley, Junior, Forward, 3.6 points per game
Willy Kouassi, Senior, Center, DNP last season

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 77.4 (18th in nation, 1st in conference)
Scoring Defense: 70.1 (269, 13)
Field-Goal Percentage: 44.5 (104, 5)
Field-Goal Defense: 42.8 (168, 11)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 6.6 (140, 3)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 34.9 (147, 2)
Free-Throw Percentage: 72.4 (68, 4)
Rebound Margin: 0.3 (182, 11)
Assists Per Game: 16.1 (11, 1)
Turnovers Per Game: 11.9 (115, 3)

Madness 2015 Men’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#56 Ted Kapita
#67 Jimmy Whitt


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