Anytime a team can return its two leading scorers from the previous year, they should be in pretty good shape. Arkansas does just that with seniors Dusty Hannahs and Moses Kingsley. On top of the returning experience, Arkansas also brings in quality talent in the form of three highly rated Junior College transfers. Jared Barford and Daryl Macon are both 6’3” guards who were ranked as the 1st and 3rd overall junior college recruits from a year ago. Alongside the guard duo is 6th ranked, 6’8” forward Arlando Cook. Granted, not everyone wants to rely on Junior College players to build a program, but landing three that are all in the top 10 can add a good enough jolt to make a splash, especially in the SEC.
The returning talent and the new talent should have a nice opportunity to form some chemistry as the Razorbacks start the season off with a less than stellar non-conference slate. There’s a handful of quality opponents in there, but other than Texas there aren’t many teams that really stand out. If Arkansas can win games they should win, the Razorbacks have the opportunity to bolster their win count via their non-conference schedule.
While the SEC slate is definitely a step up from Arkansas’s non-conference schedule, the league hasn’t been on top of its game the past few years. Arkansas could be a team to take advantage of a transitioning league and make their run to the top, especially while they have this talent for a short time. I don’t think the depth this season will allow Mike Anderson to really run the Fastest 40, but he has the talent to go on spurts.
I see depth being the key issue for the Razorbacks this season. Hannahs, Barford, Macon, and returner Anton Beard should bolster the backcourt but Kingsley and Cook are the only bigs that look ready to make a difference early. Arkansas also has Colorado transfer Dustin Thomas to call on in the front court, but playing time will still likely fall to the pair of 3-star forward recruits that the Razorbacks also add in the 2016 class. Relying on freshman can be a make or break thing, especially dealing with lower rated players. If any of the three turn out to be hidden gems, the Razorbacks could end up being fine with depth and therefore I feel more confident that they’ll finish in the top half of the SEC.
The SEC is once again looking like a league that could only send 4-5 teams to the NCAA Tournament this season, but the Razorbacks have the opportunity to be one of those teams if the senior leadership of Hannahs and Kingsley combined with the trio of top ranked Junior College players can mesh early.
#0 Jaylen Barford, 6’3” G from Motlow State CC
#2 Adrio Bailey, 6’6” 3-star F from Lakeview HS
#4 Daryl Macon, 6’3” G from Holmes CC
#5 Arlondo Cook, 6’8” F Connors State College
#12 Brachen Hazen, 6’8” 3-star F from Columbia City HS
#13 Dustin Thomas, 6’8” F from Colorado
#23 C.J. Jones, 6’5” 3-star G from Central Park Christian
#0 Jaylen Barford, 6’3” G - Top ranked Junior College player who led the nation in scoring at 26.2 PPG
#3 Dusty Hannahs, 6’3” G - Shot 43% from 3 and led team with 16.5 PPG last year
#4 Daryl Macon, 6’3” G - 3rd ranked Junior College recruit who averaged 23.9 PPG last year
#5 Arlondo Cook, 6’8” F - 6th ranked Junior College recruit who averaged 16.1 PPG and 10.1 RPG last year
#13 Dustin Thomas, 6’8” F - Will provide size and experience after sitting out last season
#31 Anton Beard, 6’0” G - Played in 23 games last year and averaged 1.8 APG
#33 Moses Kingsley, 6’10” F - Second leading scorer at 15.9 PPG and leading rebounder at 9.3 RPG last year
2016-2017 Season Predictions
|vs Fort Wayne||W|
|vs Southern Illinois||W|
|vs UT Arlington||W|
|vs Mount Saint Mary’s||W|
|vs Stephen F. Austin||W|
|vs Austin Peay||W|
|vs North Florida||W|
|vs North Dakota State||W|
|vs Sam Houston State||W|
|vs Mississippi State||W|
|@ Texas A&M||L|
|@ Oklahoma State||L|
|@ South Carolina||L|
|vs Ole Miss||W|
|vs Texas A&M||L|