Hogs Should Do Well Next Season

SPOKANE, Wash. -- Regardless of who's coaching the Arkansas basketball team next season, the Razorbacks should have plenty of experience and versatility returning.

Assuming its seven juniors all stay, Arkansas will have that rare college team with more seniors than starting spots available for them.

Sonny Weems leads that group with a 11.8 scoring average, including double-figures performances in his final five games.

"At the end of the season, you really saw the future of this team," Weems said following Arkansas' 77-60 loss to Southern California on Friday night. "All the freshmen stepped up. We're looking for big things to happen next year." Forward Charles Thomas, hampered at the finish this season by an ankle injury, averaged 10.7 points and led the team in rebounding at 5.7, despite getting no boards in Arkansas' 77-60 loss to Southern California in the NCAA Tournament.

"It's hard to be excited about (next season) right now, because of the loss that just happened," Thomas said Friday. "But also, it's hard to not be excited when you really think about it. Everyone is back with another year of experience."

Point guard Gary Ervin finished the season with a 9.9 average, but had bouts with inconsistency during the season, as manifested by his 169 assists against 100 turnovers.

Ervin had seven points and seven rebounds against USC, but just one assist to go with two turnovers.

Darian Townes, a 6-10 forward/center, averaged 8.1 points and 4.2 rebounds, but did not score in double figures in any of the last four games. He did get on the floor to snatch a loose ball against USC.

Steven Hill, the 7-foot center dubbed "Eraserback" for his shot-blocking ability, had 6 points and 4 rebounds against USC, but no blocked shots. He appeared frustrated late in the game, during a period when the Trojans were building their lead to 22 points.

Freshman Patrick Beverley, Arkansas' leading scorer with a 13.9 average, netted 15 against the Trojans after having scored a total of just 13 points in his previous two games. He was named the SEC Freshman of the Year, on merit.

Two other freshmen, Michael Washington and Stefan Welsh, improved markedly during the second half of the season, showing flashes of the promise that had created such a buzz about them during their recruitment.

Washington made his first start against USC, but had to settle for 3 points and 1 rebound in 19 minutes.

Arkansas signee Nate Rakestraw, a 6-5 guard from Springdale Har-Ber, should give the Hogs an accurate outside shooter to complement Beverley and Ervin.

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