It seems that an Arkansas basketball program – which had what seems like only bad news for an extended period – is now riding a wave of positive publicity.
That continued Monday afternoon when All-SEC center Moses Kingsley announced via press release that he was taking his name out of the NBA draft and returning to Arkansas for his senior season.
"I am thankful for the opportunity to go through the draft process, but I'm excited to return to Arkansas for my senior year,” Kingsley said. “I feel like I can continue to improve and put myself in a better position for the future.
“I would like to thank my teammates, coaches and family for their support and I'm looking forward to putting that Razorback jersey on for one more year. We’ve got a big summer ahead! WoooPig!"
Kingsley averaged 15.9 points and 9.3 rebounds last season, had 16 double-doubles, was second in the SEC with 76 blocks and was one of 10 finalists for the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Award as the nation’s top center
He declared for the NBA draft on April 13, but was not among the 64 players selected for the league’s pre-draft camp.
Kingsley was scheduled to have some workouts with NBA teams – including one with the Boston Celtics on Monday – but got the information he needed and decided to go ahead and pull his name out.
His return was obviously great news for Arkansas head coach Mike Anderson, who is set to have at least as eight new faces on next season’s team, but knows how important it is to have the familiar big man in the middle.
“Moses got the feedback he needed and we are thrilled to have one of the best players in the SEC returning for his senior season,” Mike Anderson. “If he improves this year as much as he did last year, he has a chance to be one of the best players in the country.”
Kingsley will be part of a front court that will also include returnee Trey Thompson (6-10, 250), signee Arlando Cook (6-9, 215) and Colorado transfer Dustin Thomas (6-7, 225).
The Razorbacks have added a pair of combo forwards in Adrio Bailey (6-8, 205) and Brachen Hazen (6-8, 200) as well as small forward C.J. Jones (6-5, 180).
Hazen was excited about the news of Kingsley’s return.
“Having Moses come back is a huge upside for us,” Hazen said. “He allows perimeter players to work on the outside and demands help from those perimeter players.
“He will bring experience to the incoming freshmen. Really excited to have the big man back.”
The backcourt is loaded with returnees Dusty Hannahs (6-2), Manuale Watkins (6-3) and Anton Beard (5-11) as well as scholarship newcomers Jaylen Barford (6-5, 210) and fellow junior college All-American Daryl Macon (6-4, 180).
“I think that is good, actually great, for us because Moses is a big difference maker on offense and defense," Barford said. "Plus he has the SEC experience.
“So I feel like we will open a lot of people’s eyes next year.”
Forrest City senior guard Robert Glasper (5-11) – who averaged 28 points per game this season while leading the Mustangs (26-4) to a Class 5A state championship – announced Monday that he had decided to walk on at Arkansas instead of taking scholarship offers elsewhere.
Glasper, who will be joined as a walk on the active roster by former Springdale and Drury player DeShaun Stark (6-5), was thrilled at Kingsley news and is dreaming big.
“I think it gives us an even better chance for not only making the NCAA Tournament, but making a huge run for the national championship,” Glasper said. “He’s an NBA caliber player and it’ll be fun playing with him.”
Arkansas also had added a pair of 2017 commitments from El Dorado junior center Daniel Gafford (6-11, 223) and Little Rock Mills junior forward Darious Hall (6-6, 210) as well as a 2019 pledge from Little Rock Christian point guard Justice Hill (5-11, 170).
The Razorback - who were 16-16 last season after going 27-9 the season before - will have 10 practices in late July and early August and are scheduled to play a four-game exhibition slate in Spain on Aug. 6-16.
"This year was not what we expect around here and certainly not what we expect next season," Anderson said at the Razorbacks' basketball banquet. "I like the players we have coming back, the ones we have coming in and the future we have. I really do."