There is very little doubt that junior Moses Kingsley is going to be the center of things figuratively and literally for the numerically-challenged Arkansas basketball team this season.
He plans to become a better center by spending a lot of days at the brand new Arkansas Performance Center, the Razorbacks’ new practice facility.
In fact, Kingsley has already spent a few nights there as well.
“It’s great,” Kingsley said Monday as Arkansas officially opened practice for the 2015-2016 season with a pair of workouts. “You can come here at anytime you want and get extra work in.
“I am working hard to be the best player I can be and so are all my teammates and this gives us a great chance to develop even when the coaches are not here.”
Arkansas head coach Mike Anderson sees a big difference in Kingsley (6-9, 230), who has tried to pattern his work ethic after what he saw from former Razorback and current Chicago Bull Bobby Portis.
“We have seen the flashes that Moses brings to our team from a defensive standpoint intensity-wise,” Anderson said, “ and to his credit…I think he has stepped up and gotten his body ready and really putting some time in the gym and working offensively to become a better basketball player.
“He saw what took place with Bobby. He knows what it took and he is taking on that same initiative of going in and really working to become a tremendous player. He is someone that we can really count on this season.”
Anderson is obviously excited about having the new facility.
“We are really excited to be here and it is a tremendous, fantastic facility,” Anderson said. “It is one that our guys, I can tell you since it opened, I have had guys actually spend the night here.
“It is great for a coach to have the type of players we have – gym rats – and it is kind of refreshing.”
Anderson can tell how much his team loves it.
“They actually slept down in the locker room,” Anderson said. “They brought blankets over here and laid on the floor.
“We are still in transition in terms of getting furniture in here. Like I said, these guys are gym rats and they want to be a team that people will remember.”
The addition of the Performance Center made Arkansas the final one in the SEC to get one completed.
“I will say it again, I think it is one of the best ones in the country,” Anderson said. “I really do. We were the last one to do it in the league, but I think we got it right. I really, really do.
“We are talking about a practice facility with all the amenities…It is a place that our guys are really excited about as a place to come and have access to 24/7.”
It also will keep Arkansas from having to practice at local high schools and junior highs.
“It gives us another avenue to practice,” Anderson said. “We don’t have to go to the high school, we don’t have to go to the junior high , It’s big-time.”
Arkansas players are spending more time at the practice facility than they did at Bud Walton Arena, where the Razorbacks will still practice on occasion.
“We spend more time in the gym now,” Kingsley said. “It’s like a house.”
Arkansas junior guard Manuale Watkins is overjoyed to be the new facility.
“It was like Christmas in Summer when they opened this up,” Watkins said. “It’s fun, a lot of fun. There is a lot of state-of-the-art stuff. It is probably one of the nicest in the country and we are lucky to have it. We are using it.”
Freshman guard Jimmy Whitt is happy he will have the facility his entire career at Arkansas.
“We have like 24-hour access to come in here and be able to get shots up whenever,” Whitt said. “I think that is a big part in helping your game, being able to come here on your own time and not under the coaches eye to get better.”
Anderson, who has 2016 commits in his recruiting class and at least four more expected to visit before the early signing period Nov. 11, believes it will help his recruiting.
“From a recruiting standpoint, there is no question about it – this is a wow factor,” Anderson said. “When you come in here you go ‘wow, I will have access to that.’”
Lorenzo “Doobie” Jenkins, the Razorbacks’ last signee in the 2015 class, is pleased with what he has walked into at Arkansas.
“It is beautiful and I think it is the top facility in the country in the SEC and in the country actually,” Jenkins said. “We have been putting in a lot of work here and I am looking forward to seeing how it pays off during the season.
Arkansas senior point guard Jabril Durham is happy he’ll have one year in the Performance Center.
“The facility is nice,” Durham said. “It is 24-hour access to the gym so you can come in here and shoot wherever you want. Recruits love the facility. We love it. It’s our home.”