ROGERS - As a successful businessman, former Arkansas basketball great Joe Kleine doesn’t have to get back into coaching.
But the itch may be too much not to scratch for Kleine, who had spent the past eight years as a UALR assistant before head coach Steve Shields was let go this spring.
“I don’t know whether I will get back in it as an NBA coach or college coach,” Kleine said. “The thing I have to weigh is whether I want to move (from Little Rock or not). That’s the big decision for me.”
Kleine – who played 15 years in the NBA - was one of the numerous former Razorbacks who were on hand Monday for the Mike Anderson Foundation golf tournament at Shadow Valley in Rogers.
He was pleased with what his old school got accomplished this season as Anderson led the Razorbacks to a 27-9 mark and into the NCAA Tournament after a seven-year absence.
“I just thought they got better with another year in the right direction,” Kleine said. “Their guards got better, their bigs got better and they are just progressing in the right direction.”
Arkansas will have to replace four starters, including SEC Player of the Year Bobby Portis and junior guard Michael Qualls.
That pair was the highest-scoring duo in the SEC last season.
“It’s hard to find those points and continually replace them, especially when it leaves early,” Kleine said. “Those are things that are not easy.
“Everybody think is it easy because Kentucky has done it, but they plan for one and dones and other schools don’t have the luxury.
“So when it happens it is more of a surprise and it makes it harder. But it’s a challenge that all coaches face and you just go back to work.”
Kleine transferred from Notre Dame and played his final three seasons for Arkansas before being the sixth pick in the 1985 NBA Draft by the Sacramento Kings.
He averaged 22.1 points and 8.4 rebounds his senior season for the Razorbacks and was a two-time All-SWC selection.
He won a gold medal on the 1984 Olympic team as well as having NBA stints with Sacramento, Boston, Phoenix, the Los Angeles Lakers, New Jersey, Portland and the Chicago Bulls, who he got an NBA Championship ring with in 1998.
He played with such basketball legends Michael Jordan, Larry Bird and Charles Barkley and had 4,666 points and 3,991 rebounds in his NBA career.
“I’ve been very blessed,” said Kleine, who finished sixth in the NBA in free throw shooting in 1988-89 when he made 88.2 percent of his charity tosses.
Blake Eddins was another former Razorback – playing on the 1999-2003 teams - on hand Monday and got a close up look at the team this season as one of its television announcers.
“I think if you have been around and got to see the growth of the program and the steps that have been taken since Coach Anderson got here, you know that this year wasn’t just a flash in the pan.”
Arkansas will add transfer Dusty Hannahs and signees Jimmy Whitt (6-4, 170) and Ted Kapita (6-9, 240) to the active roster next season.
“Look, you can’t just replace a Bobby Portis or Michael Qualls, those are two guys that people are going to remember for a long, long time.
“But you bring in a Jimmy Whitt, you bring in a Ted Kapita and we have got some other guys that are kind of out there that we may get at the end.
“And you can’t forget about the guys that are here now and you can see the program being built the right way and as a former player I couldn’t be prouder of Coach Anderson for what he has done both on and off the court.
“I am confident the future is going to continue to trend upwards.”
Eddins, also a successful businessman, has enjoyed being part of the early games that the Arkansas Sports Network televises.
“It’s been fun,” Eddins said. “It used to be just when Jimmy Dykes was busy and they were desperate and they would give me a call. I don’t think that has really changed that much.
“For me it is just fun to walk in the backdoor on game day and be down there. I am an old basketball nerd and there is just something about being there as the gym is filling up, everybody warming up and getting ready and that’s something that a lot of people don’t see unless you experience it.
“For me is it just fun to kind of be involved in that aspect and be up close.”
Joe Kleine shoots over Oliver Miller when the two former Arkansas centers were both playing in the NBA.
Kleine, Eddins Pleased With Progress
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