When you don't have your full complement of scholarship players, it becomes even more important to add a few good walk-ons.
Arkansas will have at least three this season – including returnee Kikko Haydar - and Razorback assistant Matt Zimmerman took a look at some 15 more Monday night during tryouts.
"We think it serves two purposes," Zimmerman said. "It gives us the opportunity to possibly find a diamond in the rough. Are you going to find (former manager turned NBA player) Scottie Pippen? Probably not, but you never, never know.
"We have taken guys out of these tryouts before," Zimmerman added. "We took them at UAB, we took one really good one at Missouri named Jared Sutton and he is still at Missouri. He turned into a very good player for us, especially in practice.
"The second thing is that it provides a service to our student body. We have had so many e-mails, calls, coaches stopping by the office and saying ‘I've got a kid that's going to be a freshman at Arkansas that was a good little high school guard for me. Can you take a look at him for me?'"
So Arkansas gathered those players up and put them through a workout Monday night that lasted over two hours.
"You used to have to wait until October 15th to do this, but now the NCAA lets you do it after September 15th," Zimmerman said. "I just think it provides the kids a great opportunity. They get to come in here, in front of the Razorback staff, tryout in a 20,000-seat arena that is still one of the most beautiful in America, get coached, go through drills and scrimmage and get their shot."
Haydar (5-10, 165), the former Fayetteville standout, played in nine games while scoring 16 points last season and will be back and likely see some significant minutes in a reserve role at point guard.
"We don't even really consider him a walk-on," Zimmerman said. "He is a tremendous little player who is going to help us."
He'll be joined by at least two others in 6-2, 200-pound junior college transfer Davion Spivey – former Razorback Scotty Thurman's nephew – and 6-6 Charlie Henderson, a former Columbia (MO) Rockbridge, who played at Division III Westminster College last season.
Spivey redshirted as a freshman last season at Holmes Community College while Henderson averaged 5.7 points and 2.7 points off the bench for the Blue Jays.
"Davion has some junior college experience and is Scotty's nephew," Zimmerman said. "He (Henderson) is not your typical little 5-10 walk-on guard."
Both of those young men will have to sit out this season as far as games, but will be able to practice and thus help out.
Another player who has been working out with the Razorbacks is 6-5 Matthew Thompson, who averaged 14 points last season for Plano John Paul II High School.
Thompson is a close friend and former AAU teammate of 6-11, 230-pound Garland (Texas) Naaman Forrest center Prince Ibeh, who is taking his official visit this weekend to Arkansas.
"We have only 10 on scholarship and that is a low number," Zimmerman said. "You would certainly like to have more than 10. But we are going to have four walk-ons because we are looking at a couple more guys. We want to have 14 on there going into October 15th."
Zimmerman noted that it's a little harder holding tryouts than it used to be.
"When we were at UAB, they could just walk in off the street and you could work them out," Zimmerman said. "Now they have to have a physical. Not too long ago, the NCAA has to see proof of a sickle cell anemia test and you have all this other paper work that has to be filled out.
"We probably had 100 people come through wanting to do it, but you end up with 15 because they have some hurdles they have to jump just to get out here," Zimmerman added. "That is just for their safety."
Zimmerman liked what he saw out of those on the court Monday night.
"They busted their tails out there tonight," Zimmerman said. "They went really, really hard."
Arkansas will open practice Friday, Oct. 14th with "Prime Time at the Palace."
"We are excited to get going for real," Zimmerman said. "We're excited about what we have here."
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