While most of Razorback Nation waits for official word on current basketball stars Bobby Portis and Michael Qualls, Arkansas head coach Mike Anderson is looking toward the additions to his roster next season.
That will include Missouri combo guard Jimmy Whitt (6-4, 170) and Huntingon, W.V. Prep power forward Ted Kapita (6-9. 240).
But there’s also former Pulaski Academy star Dusty Hannahs (6-4, 210), who impressed Arkansas head coach Mike Anderson in practice this season while redshirting after transferring from Texas Tech.
Hannahs, the son for former Arkansas and Major League Baseball pitcher Gerald Hannahs, started 27 games in his two seasons with the Red Raiders and should provide Razorback head coach Mike Anderson with a potent outside shooting threat.
“He is going to give us a guy that can really extend the defense because he can really shoot the basketball,” Anderson said. “He is a lot better athlete than you would think, a heady player. He as tremendous range.
“There were days where he just screwed up my practice where we are just busting our chops trying to guard and press and he will just pull up from 30 feet out and just drain it. it’s not just one, but two or maybe three.
“So hopefully that will be a carryover. But one of things that he certainly can do is he can make people extend the defense because he can shoot the basketball.”
Hannahs made 85 of the 234 3-pointers (37 percent) he took in his career at Texas Tech, including a night at West Virginia where he netted 7-of-7 from that range, scored a career-high 25 points while also dishing out six assists.
The former high school teammate of Arkansas tight end Hunter Henry also set a Texas Tech school record as a sophomore when he shot 92.7 percent (60-of-65) from the free throw line.
“People play a lot of zones against us, but when you have got a guy that can put it in the hole from a pretty distant range, that really pulls the defense out and now it opens it up for the guys to attack and get inside the zone or whatever defense a team that might be playing,” Anderson said.
Anderson expects Hannahs and senior-to-be Anthlon Bell to push each other.
“I think it is going to be good competition and I think that is the beauty of that,” Anderson said. “Now we are going to really see what Anthlon does and how much he puts in on his game.
“And not only that, but can you perform in games, because if not - Next. I think it is going to be good that we can have multiple guys that can shoot the ball.”
Bell led the team with 65 3-pointers this season while shooting 35.1 percent from beyond the arc while Qualls added 55 treys at a 33 percent clip for the Razorbacks, who shot 34.9 percent as a team.
“I always thought we had guys that could shoot the basketball, but at times we didn’t,” Anderson said. “As a coach you want to keep searching and searching until you find someone that can.
“I just think having another guy will be a big help. The national championship team - we had multiple guys that could shoot the basketball. It also was a great passing team.
“You have a 6-8, 6-9 guy in Dwight Stewart that could step out there. His shooting percentage was just as good as some of the guards. You had a guy like Scotty Thurman. You had a guy like Al Dillard that came off the bench.
“You had to honor a guy like Clint McDaniel, Roger Crawford so you had multiple guys that could really shoot the basketball.”
Dusty Hannahs scored 12 points in the Red-White game this season
Anderson certainly has high expectations for Whitt, a top 55 player nationally per Scout .com who averaged 30.6 points, 7.9 rebounds, 3.6 steals and 2.9 assists per game this season.
“I think Jimmy is going to be an elite guard,” Anderson said. “He just does so many things. He can create for himself, he can create off the dribble, he is a wiry guard that is pretty athletic.
“He is real sneaky athletic. He’s long. I love it because he can play the passing lanes and is just an instinctive player. He can really rebound for a big guard.
“He has got to get up here and get acclimated to the size and the strength and how hard you have got to play at this level. But I don’t see him having a problem with that acclimation.
“He is a versatile basketball player. That’s what I love. He can play multiple positions. He can play 1, 2, 3 and defend. So he is going to have a bright future here.”
Kapita, a top 40 player nationally per Scout.com who will be in action on the ESPN TV platforms April 2-4 at the Dick's Sporting Goods National High School Tournament in New York City, will also be expected to make a significant impact next season.
Anderson could not talk about Kapita on Friday because he is committed to Arkansas, but will not sign until the late signing period opens on April 15.
But he could talk about what he hopes to replace in terms of senior starting forward Alandise Harris.
“We've got to have somebody fill that role,” Anderson said. “Do we have somebody on campus to do that? I don't know. That remains to be seen.
“Or do we go out and recruit somebody of that nature? We're just trying to find the best available players out there that fit what we're doing.”
Anderson also expects for freshmen Anton Beard, Trey Thompson and Nick Babb to make strides.
“Trey, the summer is going to be big for him, too, as a matter of fact, getting a lot repetitions,” Anderson said. “In practice, he has shown that he is capable of being a guy that we can throw the ball into.
“His basketball IQ is probably - of all the big guys - one of the best. With him it is just getting experience. This year we had some guys were playing a high level. When you look at Bobby, how he was playing. And Moses (Kingsley) along with Jacorey (Williams), who at times played well, and Alandise.
“So it was hard to to get him minutes, but now Alandise has moved on and now it is going to give Trey an opportunity to step up his game. I feel he got his body in shape so now mentally he he just got to stay in tune and improve in a lot of different areas. But more importantly I just the experience and repetitions are going to be made.”
Babb, who had his moments in the SEC Tournament, needs to get stronger per Anderson.
“He probably didn't play as much as he wanted to,” Anderson said. “All of them feel that way. But we've seen the potential in him. I think the season he had this year will propel him into the offseason to really, really get after it.
“From a physical standpoint getting a little bit stronger. Continuing to work offensively on the things he brings to the table, because he's a big guard that can do a lot of things. I love his basketball IQ.
“The experience factor is going to be big for him, so when you talk about a guy improving from day one to where he is right now, I'll put him in that category…Nick Babb, I think he's going to have a bright future here.”
Beard’s insertion into the starting line up saw Arkansas take off as a basketball team, but he also struggled with injuries late.
“He's a leader by nature, he's pretty vocal,” Anderson said. “ I just want to see him continue to take that on the next level. He figured it out and that's why you start. As you move on, you're going to still have guys fighting for playing time and continuing to get better, and I want him to get better.
“He's a gym rat. The beauty of this team here, I've got a lot of guys that are gym rats. They're going to work morning, noon and night. As long as they don't change they're going to continue to get better."
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