With the news arriving earlier this week that Moses Kingsley was returning to Arkansas for his senior season instead of pursuing a professional dream, the Razorback basketball program received a much-needed positive shot in the arm.
Instead of a dark cloud hovering over the program for what has seemed like a full year, things now seem to be in place for a return to the NCAA Tournament.
While it’s understandable that some focus on last season’s 16-16 mark instead of the 27-9 one of the previous campaign, it does seem the pieces – with 8 new faces added to the squad - are back in place.
Here is just one man’s opinion on how much significance each of the players on next season’s roster will have:
• • •
15. Tristan Simmons, G, Soph., 5-10, 170, El Dorado and Jacob Mossiman, G, Sr., 6-0, 185, Lawrence, Kan. – Both of these walk ons were valuable practice players for a short-handed squad last season.
14. DaShaun Stark, SF, Junior, 6-5, Springdale – Stark transferred from Drury after playing in 52 games in two years and redshirted last season. He should provide depth at small forward and averaged 13.6 points, 7.4 rebounds and 4.4 assists as a senior at Springdale
13. Robert Glasper, G, Freshman, 5-11, Forrest City – The latest addition to the program, Glasper has chosen to walk on at Arkansas instead of taking scholarship offers from numerous schools. He averaged 28 points last season while leading his team to the Class 5A state title.
12. C.J. Jones, SG-SF, Freshman, 6-5, 180, Birmingham, Ala. Central Park Christian – The player I have seen the least among the six signees, Jones is another player that averaged 28 points per game this season and could vault up this list.
11. Brachen Hazen, F, Freshman, 6-8, 200, Columbia City, Ind. – Expected to play both small forward and be a stretch four, Hazen has a chance to also rise up the list because of his height and skill level, which includes a very nice shooting touch. He averaged 16.1 points, 9.3 rebounds and 2.7 assists as a senior.
10. Manuale Watkins, G, Senior, 6-3, 205, Fayetteville – Could be the guy that proves me wrong the most after playing 629 minutes last season. He has had some big moments in his career, but there seems less minutes to go around this season.
9. Anton Beard, Junior G, 6-0, 195, North Little Rock – Will Beard be the guy that shine as a freshman while starting the last 16 games of the season or the one that struggled during a sophomore campaign that started with a first=semester suspension? If it’s the former, that’s a big boost for the Razorbacks.
8. Adrio Bailey, F, Freshman, 6-8, 205, Campti, La., Lakeview – A versatile player with a great basketball IQ who gets after it on both ends of the court and will remind Razorback fan of Michael Qualls. Arkansas fans will fall in love with him. He averaged 19 points, 12 rebounds and 3 blocks as a senior.
7. Arlando Cook, PF-C, Junior, 6-9, 215, Connors State CC – This St. Louis native brings a toughness, physical presence and rebounding force to a team that needs it. He averaged 15 points and 10 rebounds last season and should log a lot of minutes up front.
6. Dustin Thomas, F, Junior, 6-8, 225, Colorado – Ranking him this high might be surprising to some, but this former Texarkana area star with both touch and toughness is another stretch four guy that should explode on the scene. I love what I have seen from him during his redshirt year in terms of being a cog that should fit nicely in Anderson’s system.
5. Trey Thompson, Junior, PF-C, 6-10, 250, Forrest City – The former Mustangs’ star showed flashes of what he could do last season, but needs to be consistent night in and night out this season. His significance on this year’s basketball team and his potential to earn $$$ professionally are likely equal to the amount of time he spends in the Basketball Performance Center this summer.
4. Daryl Macon, Junior G, 6-4, 180, Holmes, Miss., CC – A young man who gets it done on both ends of the court and is one of two Junior College All-Americans that the Razorback add to the roster this season. He is just a flat-out baller who averaged 23.9 points, 3.4 assists and 3.1 rebounds last season.
3. Dusty Hannahs, Senior, 6-3, 203, Pulaski Academy – When we last saw Hannahs, he was putting up 33 points on a variety of shot at the SEC Tournament. It was tough to not put him in one of the top two spots. Improvement in his defense could validate that rise.
2. Moses Kingsley, PF-C, Senior, 6-10, 230, Huntington Prep – The Nigeria native likely made a great decision for his professional future by returning for his senior season instead of opting to play overseas. He’ll be an All-SEC pick and should be the best big man in the league after a breakout junior season in which he averaged 15.9 points and 9.3 rebounds with 16 double-doubles and 76 blocked shots.
1. Jaylen Barford, PG 6-5, 210, Motlow, TN., College – Simply a beast with pure athleticism, brute strength and skill. The player I think has the most NBA potential on this year’s roster. Her is a two-time Junior College All-American whose game is so well-rounded. He led the nation in scoring last season at 26.2 while also averaging 7.2 rebounds and 4.7 assists.