The player some consider the most important recruit in the Razorbacks’ 2015 class is on campus, Arkansas head coach Mike Anderson said Monday morning during an SEC coaches teleconference.
Jimmy Whitt – the No. 70 prospect in the country – has been working out with the team this summer and given Anderson a positive impression so far.
“He’s a confident player, but more importantly, he’s a gym rat,” Anderson said. “When you get a bunch of guys that are gym rats, it makes coaching a whole lot more fun.”
Coming to Arkansas from Columbia (Mo.) Hickman High, Whitt is expected to be a scorer for a team that needs to replace four starters.
With the graduation of Rashad Madden and Alandise Harris, as well as the departures of Bobby Portis, Michael Qualls and Nick Babb, the Razorbacks will lose 65.8 percent of their scoring from the 2014-15 season.
“He’s really attacking the strength and conditioning program this summer to get even stronger,” Anderson said. “I think he’s going to play and play quite a bit.”
Anderson said Whitt also fits in with the Razorbacks’ defensive scheme.
While they are built differently and play different positions, Anderson sees similarities between Whitt and Portis from a mental standpoint.
Both players, Anderson said, practice hard and have a mindset of constantly trying to improve their game.
“He doesn’t want to be a good player,” Anderson said. “He wants to be a great player.”
Kouassi to Join Arkansas in Late July
The last addition to Arkansas’ 2015 class was Kennesaw State graduate transfer Willy Kouassi.
Kouassi, who is immediately eligible to play, is set to graduate July 29 and join the Razorbacks soon after that.
“Right now, he’s finishing up some classwork at Kennesaw,” Anderson said. “We haven’t had a graduate student come on board, but we really feel that Willy can come in and impact our team.
While he wasn’t much of a scorer with the Owls, averaging just 4.4 points last season, Kouassi is expected to do the dirty work: rebound, block shots and play defense.
At 6-foot-10, he’ll also be one of the biggest players on the team, along with Moses Kingsley, who is 6-foot-10, as well.
“We feel he’s an important piece to our program,” Anderson said. “He brings a hunger and a maturity-level that we have to have. We certainly look forward to him.”
Former Arkansas guard Michael Qualls went undrafted in last week’s NBA Draft.
He was projected as a second-round pick, but fell out of the draft completely after tearing his ACL in a pre-draft workout with the Phoenix Suns.
“It hurt my heart because that was his dream,” Anderson said. “He came to our university three years ago and the development and improvement he made on and off the floor has been tremendous.”
The injury will allow Qualls to finish the 13 credit hours he lacks to obtain his degree while he rehabs his knee.
Anderson said he still expects him to have a successful professional career.
“He’s a guy that I feel will surface somewhere in the NBA at some point in time,” Anderson said. “Sometimes, that setback, it puts you on track for a great comeback.”
Anderson Excited About Whitt
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