If Saturday morning’s open basketball practice is any indication, Arkansas senior shooting guard Anthlon Bell is primed to have a big season.
Bell (6-3, 185), whose 7.9 points per game average last season makes him the Razorbacks’ leading returning scorer, shot it well from deep and also showed off more of a mid-range and dribble-drive game than in the past.
The former Memphis Bartlett said what Arkansas head coach Mike Anderson told him when he first arrived has turned out to be true.
“It went by pretty quick, quicker than high school,” Bell said. “Coach talked to me about it and said it was going to happen quick and now here it is.
“I just want to come out and go out with a bang.”
Bell, who started 16 games last season, and Razorback junior center Moses Kingsley were Arkansas’ representatives at the SEC Basketball Media Day on Wednesday.
The Razorbacks – who were 27-9 overall and 13-5 in SEC action last season, were picked 11th in the 14-team race in the preseason poll by the league media’s preseason poll.
“People can say whatever they want," Bell said. "We've just going to go out there every night and play as a team, and I feel like we'll hold our own."
Bell, who has made 138 3-pointers in his career, says the Razorbacks are simply focused on getting better.
“We have just been coming in working,” Bell said. “That’s all that is. We are just keeping our heads going straight forward and knowing we will be able to get it done.”
Arkansas head coach Mike Anderson had this to say about the projection.
“Polls are just people's opinions," Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson said. "I always worry about what takes place when it's all said and done.
"I was the third choice for my wife, and I didn't turn out bad."
Anderson does get why his team is picked low as it currently doesn’t have eight players that were on last season’s roster.
"We've got some work to do, there's no question about that," he said. "We've got our work cut out for us, but I think it's a challenge we're looking forward to as well."
Bell knows that he will have a bigger role this season.
“Over the whole summer, I focused on my handles just because I know that with the team this year that I might have to handle the ball a lot more.
“Be it bringing the ball up court or leading transition. That is what I have been working on a lot.”
He also notes that Kingsley will surprise some people with his improved offensive game.
The 6-10, 230-pound center averaged 3.6 points, 2.5 rebounds and 1.1 blocked shots in 10.9 minutes off the bench last season.
"Moses has been that force down low offensively and defensively," Bell said. "He's showing a lot of improvement in his jump shot and his ball-handling.
"I'm expecting a lot of big things from Moses."
Bell notes that each of the returnees and newcomers are likely to see some significant playing time.
“Everybody has the opportunity to step into the light and become a big player for us,” Bell said.
He also notes that he will relish the underdog role.
"I'm looking forward to it a lot because when we go against bigger opponents, they're going to think we got a win," Bell said. "But the team we have, we're scrappy, We're going to fight the whole game. We know we're going to be in each game that we play in."