Top 68 Team Previews: #40 Arkansas Razorbacks
Mike Anderson is the new head coach at Arkansas. (Icon SMI)
By Keith Levinsky
Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Last Season: 18-13 (7-9)
Key Losses: Rotnei Clarke, Delvon Johnson, Jeff Peterson, Marcus Britt
Head Coach: Mike Anderson
Projected Starting Lineup
PG: Julysses Nobles 6-1 Jr.
SG: B.J. Young 6-3 Fr.
SF: Rashad Madden 6-5 Fr.
PF: Marshawn Powell 6-7 Jr.
C: Hunter Mickelson 6-10 Fr.
Key Reserves: Mardracus Wade 6-2 So. PG, Marvell Waithe 6-9 Sr. PF, Michael Sanchez 6-8 Sr. PF, Rickey Scott 6-3 So. SG, Devonta Abron 6-8 Fr. PF
Under Nolan Richardson, Arkansas basketball was one of the top college basketball teams of the 1990's. The Razorbacks reached the Sweet Sixteen in six of the first seven years of the 90's and won the national title in 1994. Ever since Richardson left in 2002, Arkansas basketball has been in a rut, reaching the NCAA tournament only three times.
During the successful years, Mike Anderson was on the sidelines as Richardson's assistant coach. After successful stints at UAB and Missouri, Anderson has returned to Fayetteville but now as the Razorbacks head coach. Anderson's return and the nation's ninth best recruiting class has given the Arkansas program a jolt. There is plenty of excitement around Fayetteville over this potentially rejuvenated program.
Even with all the electrifying additions over the offseason, Razorbacks did suffer a major blow when Rotnei Clarke decided in August that he would transfer to Butler. Clark was one of the nation's best shooting guards last year and Arkansas' top scorer, averaging 15.2 points per game.
The Razorbacks could have a replacement in B.J. Young, the fourth best point guard and 16th best overall prospect in the 2011 recruiting class. Young should help to supply the points that will be missing with Clark's absence. ESPN.com said, "Young is a big time scorer from the wing or the point." The highly touted freshman will probably step in at shooting guard and let the more experienced Julysses Nobles take the point. Nobles led the Hogs in assists last year with 92 and was fourth on the team in points, scoring 8.4 points per game.
Another ESPNU 100 recruit that should start is Rashad Madden. According to ESPN.com, Madden is a tall guard that "has great size, athleticism, and playmaking ability." Marshawn Powell returns to the lineup as he was Arkansas's second best scorer and rebounder last year. Powell recorded 10.8 points per game and 4.5 rebounds per game in 2010-11 and should be a force in the paint this year as well. Hunter Mickelson, the 55th ranked recruit in the ESPNU 100, rounds out Arkansas's group of ESPNU 100 recruits. Mickelson, who is likely to start right from the get-go as well, is a long, athletic post player who has a very high upside.
Mardracus Wade, Marvell Waithe, Michael Sanchez and Rickey Scott all averaged double digit minutes last year and all started at least one game last year. Each should make an impact off the bench this year.
If all these new pieces fit together, the Hogs could be tough to handle this season. The gelling of all these high profile recruits and the returning Razorbacks will determine if Mike Anderson has a pleasant return to the South or not.