Rank: #6 SEC
22-10, 10-6, 2nd (t) West
continually underachieving, Coach Stan Heath and his Arkansas
squad finally made it to the NCAA Tournament last year. Despite
the mass exodus from the backcourt, the Razorbacks have the
talent to make a return trip. Yet, Arkansas will have to depend
on newcomers to fill most of the minutes on the perimeter and
that is always a scary proposition.
Ronnie Brewer, Jonathan Modica and Dontell Jefferson started
most of the games on the perimeter last year, and when Jefferson
wasn’t starting, fellow departing senior Eric Ferguson was.
Brewer, who left early for the NBA, averaged 18.4 points, 3.2
assists, 4.8 rebounds and 2.6 steals. Modica tacked on 16.0
points and 4.0 rebounds, but was a liability on defense.
Jefferson wasn’t a dynamic scorer, but developed into a solid
point guard who kept the offense under control.
will help ease the pain of all those departures. The 5-11 point
guard averaged 7.4 points and 4.7 assists for Mississippi State
two years ago and Coach Heath expects the junior speedster to
push the ball up the floor better than anybody could last year.
Patrick Beverley and Sonny Weems are the other two newcomers
that should see quality minutes. Beverley, a 6-1 shooting
guard, can fill up the scoring column in multiple ways. Weems,
a junior college transfer, has a great all-around game. The 6-6
wing can put up ten points a game, grab a few rebounds and play
good defense this year. Shooting guard Stefan Welsh has been
overlooked due to the more highly touted incoming guards, but he
could play a big role for Arkansas, especially if Coach Heath
wants to continue the three guard lineup. With a little more
strength, 6-10 power forward Michael Washington could develop
into a premier post player in the SEC. He’s a great athlete and
has the potential to contribute off the bench as a freshman.
Who to Watch:
Charles Thomas, Darian Townes, Steven Hill and Vincent Hunter
are all experienced frontcourt players. Thomas is a hardworking
6-8 forward and Townes has steadily improved over his first two
seasons in Fayetteville. Townes is a solid post scorer, led the
team in rebounding last year and, along with Hill, provides a
great defensive presence under the basket. Hill needs to
improve his shooting and rebounding in order to become the
all-conference type of player his high expectations warranted
coming into the program. But the 7-0 center is too talented in
the shot blocking department to keep on the bench. Hunter has
battled injuries much of his career, but, if he can stay
healthy, there won’t be a drop off in talent when the 6-10
junior gives the starters a rest.
McCurdy has the most returning experience of anybody in the
Arkansas backcourt, despite averaging just 7.7 minutes per game
as a freshman. He’s a solid floor leader with a nice shot from
long range, but the newcomers may prevent McCurdy from being
anything else but a roleplayer. Ervin, Beverley and Weems won’t
be able to spend time adjusting to life at Arkansas. They will
all be asked to contribute immediately. That’s not a problem
for Ervin, but the level of competition will be greatly
increased for Beverley and Weems. If it takes too long for them
to come around, the Razorback perimeter will struggle. If they
are playing like veterans by March, this will be an NCAA team
the opposition won’t want to see in their bracket.
Junior, Guard, DNP last season
Beverley, Freshman, Guard, DNP last season
Junior, Forward, 9.7 points per game
Junior, Forward, 9.5 points per game
Junior, Center, 3.0 points per game