Arkansas coach John Pelphrey, who spoke to the Northwest Arkansas Razorback Club at Rogers Heritage High on Tuesday night, said Powell is not quite 100 percent after breaking his hand in a pickup game. However, the highest rated member of Arkansas' 2009-10 signing class should be back on the floor when the Razorbacks hold their first practice Friday.
"Technically, if we had games, I think he'd be playing," Pelphrey said. "But since we don't, we're obviously being very cautious with him and he'll be ready to go by practice."
Although Powell couldn't play because of the broken hand, he has shed 25 pounds since arriving on campus. Pelphrey said Powell has been able to participate in conditioning drills despite the injury and is in "phenomenal" shape.
The 6-foot-7 Powell is being counted on to aid senior Michael Washington in the frontcourt this season. The injury is on Powell's non-shooting hand and Pelphrey said it occurred at a good time because he won't miss practice.
"I wasn't too alarmed when it happened," Pelphrey said. "I was glad it happened when it did. He's worked very hard to maintain his conditioning. We've been very, very cautious."
Pelphrey covered several other topics during a five-minute interview session with the media and a 30-minute speech to a crowd of approximately 50 club members.
It included his first public comments since doling out suspensions to players for their roles in a fraternity house incident in which an 18-year-old claimed she was raped.
Charges were not filed against any players, but Pelphrey levied two-to-three game suspensions for basketball team members Marcus Britt, Glenn Bryant and walk-on Nick Mason.
Point guard Courtney Fortson also was suspended for an insensitive message he posted on Twitter while his teammates were being investigated by police.
"I think it's not one of those days you look forward to having, but sometimes in leadership roles you've got to deal with stuff like that," said Pelphrey, who added he would comment further at a Thursday news conference previewing the start of practice. "I'm sure somewhere along my career, if I can stick around long enough in some form or fashion, we'll have other things we'll have to deal with and we'll certainly try to deal with them in as timely a fashion as we can."
In addition, Pelphrey also indicated his interest in one day playing a regular season game in Barnhill Arena.
He said no "serious" discussions have taken place, but was attracted to the idea after watching Arkansas' volleyball team play in Barnhill. However, Pelphrey admitted moving a basketball game back to Barnhill could be complicated.
"I don't know if it's possible," Pelphrey said. "It would have to be a separate ticket and they may not let us do that.
"But being over there to watch that volleyball game the other day, it got loud in there a couple of times."
Pelphrey: Powell Will Practice Friday
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