Powell's Plan

University of Arkansas rookie standout Marshawn Powell (6-7, 220) is named to the SEC's All-Freshman team and talks about his plans to make this his team on a day when the league also honors sophomore guards Courtney Fortson and Rotnei Clarke.

On Monday morning, University of Arkansas standout rookie Marshawn Powell was named to the All-SEC Freshman team.

Then the 6-7, 220-pound forward went out and made a senior-type statement during the afternoon about the Razorback basketball team.

The statement came after being asked if Powell – who is averaging 15.1 points and 6.7 rebounds – would take on more of a leadership role next season.

"I believe I am there now," Powell said. "I believe this is my team. Not taking nothing from Big Mike (Washington) or Stef (Welsh) because those are the seniors or (Stephen) Cox or anything, but I am just taking it and putting it on my back. This is what this team needs is a leader. We haven't had that all year. It is my turn to try it I guess."

Arkansas (14-17, 7-9), which has lost its last five games after leading the SEC's Western Division by a game, plays Georgia (13-16, 5-11) Thursday night at 8:45 p.m. in the SEC Tournament in Nashville.

The Razorbacks rallied from 15 points down earlier this season to beat the Bulldogs 72-68 in Athens.

"This is very exciting and my first one (SEC Tournament)," Powell said. "I would love for us to do great things in this one. We have been practicing pretty hard and ready. We just can't close our games. I am pretty sure we are going to fix that before our next game."

The latest defeat – a 68-66 loss to visiting Ole Miss - came when the Razorbacks lost a 65-54 left with five minutes to go on Saturday and was particularly appalling to Powell.

"We are not really over it," Powell said. "We have to hold that like a grudge I guess you must say. We gave that game to them. We talked about it in film the other day and we understood what we did wrong and how we allowed them to get back in the game. We are just going to work and trying to get better for this weekend coming up. I am pretty sure we have a great game plan from our coaching staff."

Fellow Virginia native and Razorback teammate Stef Welsh lauded the rookie campaign of Powell, who has 23 double digit scoring efforts this season, a team-leading 41 blocks and a second-best 32 steals.

"It doesn't surprise me at all," Welsh said. "The first time I seen him play his sophomore year, he was a must-get. I knew with what we had coming in and off our season last year, that he was just what we were missing. I knew with the type of offense we had and his skill set, he would be able to come in and produce because he is a skilled four that can handle, shoot, block shots and rebound.

"Nothing he is doing surprises me," Welsh added. "I think he is just scratching the surface. If he stays humble and stays coachable as he has been all year, then he is going to be a really good basketball player for the Razorbacks and have a very successful professional career."

Powell is hoping that he is joined next season by another former Virginia standout Ricardo Ratliffe (6-9, 240), the nation's number one junior college player who took an official visit to Arkansas this past weekend.

His inclusion on the league's all-freshman team came on a day when point guard Courtney Fortson was named to the All-SEC second team and fellow sophomore guard Rotnei Clarke named to the league's community service team.

Fortson is averaging 18.1 points, 6.0 assists and 5.3 rebounds this season.

"Courtney obviously gave our team a big shot in the arm when he was able to get back and has earned the respect of other coaches in the league," Pelphrey said. "He certainly was a big part of us having a chance to win a couple of games. That's a very big honor.

"I think Marshawn was a unanimous pick to the all-freshmen team – that's outstanding as well," Pelphrey added.

Clarke is averaging 15.5 points per game and was honored for his speaking at number functions and his frequent attendance at campus events.

He has hit 100 3-pointers this season and is just two shy of Scotty Thurman's school record of 102.

"I think for Rot, that is big time because it talks about character and putting the focus on somebody other than yourself," Pelphrey said.

Powell join Kentucky stars John Wall – who was named the league's MVP - and Freshmen of the Year Demarcus Cousins on the all-rookie team.

"It just shows what hard work can get you, where he can take you," Powell said. "I came in every day that I have been here this year and was prepared to work. Hard work shows off."

"I really surprised myself to be honest with you to be thrown into the situation I was thrown into," Powell said. "I handled it very well with my coaches and my teammates and they didn't do anything but encourage me. I did pretty well."

Powell lauded Fortson's help.

"I am pretty sure everybody knows he is a spectacular player," Powell said. "He is a game-changer. I am like very appreciative that he is on my team. He is a heck of a player."

Powell has had three single digits games in his last four outings with a 27-point outburst against Auburn being his lone big game.

That has occurred in part because of cold shooting.

"Frustrating to me honest," Powell said. "I really would love to play well every game, but of course no one – not even Kobe can play well every game. I am just going to keep doing what I am doing and my teammates keep encouraging me to keep shooting and keep going as hard as I am going. They are going to fall sooner or later."

Powell has been a focus of other team's defenses lately.

"The first half of the season teams didn't know much about me," Powell said. "They played me straight up one-on-one. But know I have been playing pretty decent over the course of the season, I'd say the second half of the season I started getting into people's scouting report.

"I take it game-by-game," Powell added. "I am just trying to figure out new ways to score or get another teammate open. That is why I try to basically do."

Marshawn Powell slams one home after a pass from Courtney Fortson.

Rotnei Clarke has made 100 3-pointers this season, just two shy of Scotty Thurman's school record of 102.

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