Anderson: Durham Real Bright Spots

Ky Madden can slide to the off guard with the arrival of point guards Jabril Durham and Anton Beard. Mike Anderson is excited about the possibilities in year four.

The point guards have arrived and so has expectations in year four of the Mike Anderson coaching stay at Arkansas. The Arkansas boss sounded excited as he went over summer progress in a Monday media briefing.

Anderson sounded excited as he discussed the ability to play "big" or "small" with the additions of point guards Jabril Durham and Anton Beard and wide body Trey Thompson in his new recruiting class. Anderson has seen the newcomers work out and play in organized sessions during the second semester of summer school.

"Jabril is one of the bright spots this summer," Anderson said. "He can create shots for our big men around the basket and he can knock down the jumper.

"Anton has got some toughness. They are glue guys. They can get the ball to our guys inside.

"Jabril and Anton fit what we do. They can create and finish. Our big guys like to play with them."

As for the 6-9 Thompson, Anderson said he's improved with daily workouts against both Moses Kingsley and Portis.

"Trey could block shots with his arm pits in high school," Anderson said. "Going against our guys, some days he struggles and some days he picks it up. He can rebound, has a great motor and he's a tremendous passer and has soft hands and footwork."

Portis and Qualls look improved after spending several weeks in the nation's top camps, earning invitations to the Lebron James Camp.

"It was very productive for those guys," Anderson said Monday when he met with the media at Bud Walton Arena. "You can't buy that kind of exposure.

"The feedback I got, Bobby did what Bobby does, show a big-time motor and run the floor. Mike had the kind of performance in the Kevin Durant Camp to get an invitation to Lebron's camp. Both of them made strides this summer."

Anderson said the individual workouts and games played on campus proved to him that the pieces are coming together for a good year.

"We are getting ready for year four here and it should be a big year," he said. "I say that every year, but in year four, we are more familiar with everything we do. We are more familiar with the brand (of basketball) and culturally, just everything. We've had a really good summer."

Specifically, Anderson said Portis just keeps getting better.

"Bobby is impressive," Anderson said. "You look at his body, it's changed. He's grown. He's 6-10 1/2 or 6-11. You saw him in (the interview room) and he's just a lot more comfortable, a lot more mature. The entire team is that way.

"Michael Qualls has always been an athlete, but now you see him bring more things to the court. We have more players around them.

"Our players, we have more gym rats. We have all 15 guys in the gym, chasing coaches down the halls. It's music to my ears. That hasn't happened around here like this year. It reminds me of the way it was around here before."

But the key is the addition of help with the point guards, Durham from the junior college ranks and Beard from high school. Madden should make a jump as a wing player

"I watched tape of last year the other day and Ky had to do too many things for us," Anderson said. "He led us in scoring, led us in assists and was third in steals. Sometimes things didn't work out because Ky had to do too much.

"Now, Ky won't have to create. We have other guards who can get us in sets, who are double and sometimes triple threats. And these guys fit what we do. We have more guys now who fit what we do."

The improvement is there around the team, too. Anderson sees a jump with juniors Anthlon Bell and Jacorey Williams.

"I think we will have more depth," said Anderson, who also likes the improvement from the likes of Manuale Watkins.

"Our depth -- with Watkins and others -- is so much better. I've watched some scrimmages when we've split up the squad and stepped away as coaches and they are so competitive. Bell is like a different player and so is Jacorey. I like this team."

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