100 Teams in 100 Days: Arkansas Razorbacks

2016-2017 Season Review

It was a solid season for Mike Anderson and company, as Arkansas finished 26-10 and 12-6 in the SEC, which was good enough for a third place finish. They had a nice win at South Carolina in mid-February and made the SEC Tournament title game before falling to Kentucky. The Razorbacks earned an eight seed in the NCAA Tournament, where they defeated #9 Seton Hall, 77-71. In the second round of the tournament, they led eventual national champion North Carolina 65-60 with 3:28 to play, but couldn’t hang on as they would fall 72-65. The Razorbacks were 28th in the nation in adjusted offensive efficiency.

Key Losses

The Razorbacks lost three key players from last season to graduation. One of them, Dusty Hannahs, led the team in scoring with 14.4 points per games. The guard hit a team high 74 threes. Manuale Watkins is another guard that graduated. Watkins started for the Razorbacks and averaged 6.0 PPG, 4.0 RPG and 1.3 SPG. He was a very efficient player that defended well. The other player lost to graduation was big man Moses Kingsley. Kingsley averaged 12.0 PPG, a team high 7.7 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game, which was 15th best in the country. His presence down low and around the rim will be greatly missed. The Razorbacks also lost RJ Glasper and Brachen Hazen, two sophomores to be that almost never saw the court, to the transfer market.

Key Returners

Arkansas fans took a sigh of relief when both Daryl Macon and Jaylen Barford withdrew from the NBA Draft to return for their senior seasons. Macon, a 6’3 guard, was second on the team in scoring with 13.4 PPG, hit 65 threes at a 38.7% clip, and dished out a team high 2.2 assists per game. Macon can score in a variety of ways and should see his numbers increase this season.

Barford is a 6’3 guard like Macon and averaged 12.8/3.8/2.0 last season. He doesn’t have a great shot from the perimeter, but has a quick first step and is dangerous in the open court.

Another senior guard that returns to help the duo of Macon and Barford is Anton Beard. Beard averaged 7.2 PPG and 1.1 steals per game last season. He was mostly a role player last season, but will see a much larger role this year with Hannahs and Watkins no longer in the backcourt. Also returning in the backcourt is 6’5 sophomore CJ Jones. Jones is an outstanding shooter that played in 21 games last season and will have an expanded role this season. In the frontcourt, 6’7 Dustin Thomas returns. Thomas started for the Razorbacks and averaged 5.3 PPG and 3.8 rebounds per games. 6’8 senior Arlando Cook also returns after playing 11.3 minutes per game last season. With the departure of Kingsley, Cook will see a boost in his playing time. The Razorbacks also return 6’9 senior Trey Thompson and 6’6 sophomore Adrio Bailey. The two combined to play 21.4 minutes per game last year and will have much more of an impact this season.

Key Newcomers

Mike Anderson brings in the 38th ranked recruiting class in the nation and 8th in the SEC, according to 247Sports. All four recruits are from Arkansas. Their top recruit is 6’9 forward Daniel Gafford. Gafford is ranked 37th overall by 247Sports and is listed as the 8th best power forward. With a 7’2 wingspan, Gafford is one of the best rim protectors and rebounders in the 2017 class, which makes him the prime candidate to replace Moses Kingsley.

Khalil Garland is a 6’6 three star SG and the second ranked player out of Arkansas. Garland is more of a slashing SG than a catch and shoot SG. Darious Hall is a 6’6 SF that is the fourth rated player in Arkansas. Hall is a versatile player that rebounds well for his size. Rounding out the recruiting is 6’7 SF Gabe Osabuohien. The 5th rated player out of Arkansas, Osabuohien is originally from Canada but attended school in Little Rock.

Final Take

There’s nothing a coach can love more than being able to have three senior guards to rely on, which Anderson has in Macon, Barford and Beard. With those three, CJ Jones and the newcomers, the back court should be very good for Arkansas. The front court is a lot more iffy. The Razorbacks are going to badly miss Moses Kingsley’s presence down low. Daniel Gafford is going to have to step in and make an immediate impact to soften that blow, while the returning big men have to step up. Come next March, I see the Razorbacks being a bubble team at this point. Can Macon and Barford get them over the edge?

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