Razorbacks’ signees bring complementary skills

By: Richard Davenport
Published: Sunday, November 25, 2012
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/KAREN E. SEGRAVE --11/16/12--  Bobby Portis signed a letter of intent to play basketball at Arkansas on Friday.  Hall High School signed three seniors on Friday to play college basketball.
Photo by Karen E. Segrave
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/KAREN E. SEGRAVE --11/16/12-- Bobby Portis signed a letter of intent to play basketball at Arkansas on Friday. Hall High School signed three seniors on Friday to play college basketball.

— Dave Telep, ESPN’s senior national basketball analyst, said he believes Arkansas filled its needs by adding Little Rock Hall power forward Bobby Portis and Huntington (W.Va.) Prep center Moses Kingsley during the early signing period.

“I really feel like it was mission accomplished anytime you can add two big guys, especially two guys that are so different,” Telep said. “You have one that’s going to be a primary scorer in Bobby Portis and another in Moses who’s a really good rim protector and whose offense is coming along. You don’t need him to be an offensive threat as a freshman to do his job.”

Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson’s class was rated as the 14th-best in the nation by ESPN. It also rated Portis, 6-9 1/2, 220 pounds, as the No. 11 prospect in the country, while Kingsley, 6-10, 220, is rated as the No. 49 recruit. Both were AAU teammates on the Arkansas Wings the past two years.

“I think Portis has a chance to be a special player,” Telep said. “Not a lot of guys can master the balance between post and perimeter. He’s very conscious as a rebounder, which he’s good at, but he’s also good at facing the basket. He’s just a unique kid. He has a high level of athletic ability.”

Anderson and his staff were quick to offer a scholarship to Portis, who averaged about 15 points, 10 rebounds and 3 blocked shots per game as a junior. Arkansas offered Portis before the start of his junior year, which impressed Telep.

“I’m not even sure you can say they gambled on him,” Telep said. “They knew he was going to be a pretty good prospect, but I think he’s overdelivered on his end. To be a borderline top-10 player in this class, it’s a real compliment to where he’s gone as a player.”

Kingsley averaged 12 points, 10 rebounds and 7 block shots per game last season at New Albany (Miss.) High School and has a well-earned reputation as a supreme defender and shot-blocker. Telep said he also made big strides with his offensive game over the summer.

“This summer, some teams made the mistake in leaving him open,” Telep said. “He knocked down the perimeter jump shot, and to me that’s a really good sign of things to come.”

Kingsley, who moved to the United States from Nigeria two years ago, has seen his skill level increase with better coaching.

“I think Moses is more than just a raw basketball player,” Telep said. “He has real upside, and I thought he started to capitalize on that this summer.”


Conway place-kicker Matthew Cummins and Searcy punter Chris Qualls are on track to be among the state’s top prospects in the 2015 class.

Both showed a strong leg and turned in outstanding seasons this year.

Cummins, 6-0, 165 pounds, made 50 of 51 extra-point attempts and made 6 of 7 fieldgoal attempts, with a long of 52 yards. He also recorded 32 touchbacks on kickoffs.

“He has the strongest leg of any kicker I have coached,” Conway Coach Clint Ashcraft said. “It’s going to be fun to watch him for two more years. A kicker of his caliber is a great weapon to have every Friday night.”

Qualls, 5-10, 150, averaged 41 yards per punt for the Lions’ ninth-grade team and about 40 yards for the varsity squad this season. Several of his punts were angled to avoid returns.

Qualls finished 35th of nearly 200 punters invited in July to the Kohl’s National Scholarship Camp in Wisconsin and is ranked No. 1 in the 2015 class.

“His hang-time average is between 4 and 4.5 seconds,” Searcy Coach Tim Harper said. “He works as hard as any kid I’ve ever coached at their position. He’s kicked several punts over 50 yards and also had several punts downed inside the 10-yard line.”

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Sports, Pages 30 on 11/25/2012