Heading into his current team’s biggest game this season on Friday night, Arkansas signee Jaylen Barford can’t also help think a little bit about the future.
Barford (6-5, 210), who leads the junior college ranks in scoring at 27 points a game, will lead Motlow State College (20-4, 11-2) into a first-pace battle with Southwestern Tennessee (20-3, 11-1) in Memphis.
Arkansas head coach Mike Anderson is slated to be on hand for the game, which was originally scheduled for Wednesday night before being postponed.
“It’s a huge game for us, especially since they beat us (83-80) the first time at our place,” Barford said. “We have been putting in the work to get ready and can take the lead if we go in there and get the win.
“These are the kind of big games that I know I am going to be playing in next season at Arkansas and I am really looking forward to that.”
Barford has had a spectacular sophomore season for the Bucs while putting in the 27 points per game in addition to averaging 7.4 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 2.9 steals per game.
He is shooting 60.5 percent (244-of-403) from the field, 38.1 percent (40-of-105) from 3-point range and 80.5 percent (120-of-149) from the free throw line.
“I worked so hard on every part of my game in the off-season and have continued to do so during the season,” Barford said. “I wanted to be an all-around better player and that has helped me succeed this season.”
Barford has had the chance to watch several Arkansas games this season and come away impressed.
He envisions being surrounded next season by current Arkansas players Moses Kingsley, Dusty Hannahs, Anton Beard and Jimmy Whitt as well as signees Daryl Macon (6-4, 180), Arlando Cook (6-9. 215) and Adrio Bailey (6-8, 205).
“I think Arkansas is just right there on being a great team and have just had a lot of heartbreaking losses,” Barford said. “I watch them and think when me and the other guys get there, that is going to put us over the top and we are going to be a great team next year.
“I’m looking forward to being out there with guys like Daryl – who can knock it down – and Dusty, who is a great shooter, Moses getting it done inside, Anton and Jimmy, who is going to be a great wing.
“Then you add in Arlando, Adrio and anybody else we sign and we should be really, really good.”
Barford, whose team has five regular season games left, is slated to play the point at Arkansas.
“When I came up there, they were talking to be about playing the one mostly,” Barford said. “I think that is my best spot and I love being able to run the show.”
Arkansas’ coaches have been constants at Barford’s games this season.
“They have been to see me a lot,” Barford said. “Coach (T.J.) Cleveland has been to see me play a few times, Coach Anderson and Coach (Matt) Zimmerman have been over and I talk to Coach (Melvin) Watkins almost every day.
“The way that our players have played at Arkansas this season and the coaches all have me very excited about being a Razorback.”