The Arkansas Razorbacks built their 2016 class around top junior college talent, and so far in 2017 Mike Anderson and his staff have been focused on in-state high schoolers. Their two commitments, Daniel Gafford and Darious Hall faced off against each other on Friday night at the Made Hoops Preview, and both look to fit in very well with what Anderson and his staff like to do.
Much has already been made about Gafford’s ability, and there is a ton of it. He is a legit 6-foot-10 with long arms, great athleticism, and toughness around the rim. He is still a bit of a work in progress on the offensive end, but he is the perfect fit for Anderson and his program.
Gafford will be ideal at the back end of Arizona’s press on defense. He is a talented shot blocker who has the obvious size and length, but also the requisite timing to really be a factor protecting the rim. This is of course the key to any pressure defense, as you have to discourage the opponent from getting layups, and Gafford is able to do that in a big way.
On offense Gafford is a lot like former Hawg Bobby Portis. Now Portis was slightly more refined at a similar stage, but Gafford continues to improve. The one major question with Gafford right now revolves around his hands where he can be a bit inconsistent catching the basketball.
Even with that he is a reliable finisher when he gets an angle to the rim, and most importantly he doesn’t play outside of himself. Gafford knows his ability level and knows his skill set. That allows him to be efficient on offense, and someone who fits in best in a run and gun type of system like the Razorbacks employ.
While Gafford is far more known, and has been seen significantly more, this was the first time seeing Hall. Hall is an intriguing wing because he has an impressive combination of size, length, and athleticism.
Hall is around 6-foot-6 and has extremely long arms, and is a big time athlete who can make plays well above the rim. That said at this point he is very limited on the offensive end. Hall isn’t someone who can really get by a defender because his handle needs work, and then as an outside shooter he is a major work in progress.
That said, while Gafford should be a force on the back end of Arkansas’ press, Hall should be a major factor at the front of it. Hall can really disrupt passing lanes with his length, and then is athletic enough to get from spot to spot on the court causing major disruption for the opponent working to get the ball up the court.
Hall isn’t someone who is going to have the immediate impact that Gafford does, but he does fit into the type of wing that Arkansas likes. As long as Anderson and his staff surround Hall with guys who can shoot, he could be a very nice piece to the puzzle as Arkansas looks to get back to the NCAA Tournament.
While both Gafford and Hall have some deficiencies in their game, like all high school prospects, credit to Anderson and his staff for doing exactly what they should. They identified in-state talent that fits what they like to do, and went out and got them early. Both should fill a nice role within the Arkansas pressure system, and each has a chance to be a major contributor before the end of their respective careers.