Six of them will officially don an Arkansas jersey for the first time tonight. So don't show up at Bud Walton Arena expecting the Razorbacks will totally please second-year coach John Pelphrey during their exhibition opener against Campbellsville.
There will be frustration, and there will be yelling. But there will also be serious coaching and serious hustling, much more than anticipated for a preseason game against a Division II school coached by Pelphrey's high school teammate.
With such a young team, the exact opposite of his first at Arkansas, Pelphrey said the arduous growing process must begin now.
"The exhibition games this year are more important than last year," Pelphrey said. "Every time we line up together, we're going to learn something. I want to see guys play hard with unity, cohesiveness and an understanding of what it takes to be on a team.
"I want us to play collective defense and take care of the ball."
Tonight marks the starting point for a basketball season sure to be full of highs and lows, fervor and folly. And Pelphrey openly realizes the scope of the rollercoaster ride on which he and his team are about to embark.
Unfortunately for Pelphrey, he won't get a look at his entire roster tonight. Freshman point guard Courtney Fortson, a budding leader, will not play tonight because of a suspension.
But Fortson's absence won't ruin anything about the debut for Pelphrey's half-dozen other newcomers continuing to vie for playing time.
Freshmen Andre Clark, Brandon Moore and Michael Sanchez will join junior Michael Washington in the frontcourt tonight. Sharp-shooting freshman Rotnei Clarke will hoist up plenty of long-distance shots, and junior Montrell McDonald and freshman Jason Henry will fight for Sonny Weems' minutes.
Junior guard Stefan Welsh said he and his teammates desperately need to value tonight's contest.
"It's all about getting experience," Welsh said. "These guys don't know what basketball in the SEC is all about, and they've got to find out fast. So we've got to make the most of this game and (Thursday's) game."
Arkansas vs. Campbellsville
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