ARKANSAS MEN’S BASKETBALL:

Portis, Harris give Hogs Rock-solid contributions

By: Bob Holt
Published: Wednesday, March 12, 2014
Arkansas forward Bobby Portis pulls in a rebound in front of an Ole Miss defender during a game Wednesday, March 5, 2014 at Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville.
Photo by Michael Woods
Arkansas forward Bobby Portis pulls in a rebound in front of an Ole Miss defender during a game Wednesday, March 5, 2014 at Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE - Little Rock is big for Arkansas basketball for the first time since Joe Johnson led the Razorbacks to back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances in 2000 and 2001.

Bobby Portis, the Razorbacks’ 6-10 forward from Little Rock Hall, was voted by coaches to the All-SEC second team and the SEC All-Freshman team announced Tuesday. He is Arkansas’ first All-SEC player from Little Rock since Johnson, a 6-8 guard from Little Rock Central, was voted to the second team as a freshman and sophomore beforeturning pro and being the 10th overall draft pick by the Boston Celtics.

Johnson, who now plays for the Brooklyn Nets, is in his 13th NBA season.

Portis - the sixth Razorbacks freshman to earn All-SEC honors, joining Scotty Thurman, Corliss Williamson, Johnson, Patrick Beverley and BJ Young - isaveraging 12.4 points, 6.6 rebounds and 1.6 blocked shots in 27.3 minutes per game.

Arkansas has another impact player from Little Rock in forward Alandise Harris, a 6-6 junior who also played at Central. Harris, who redshirted last season after transferring from Houston, is averaging 8.9 points and 3.2 rebounds in 18.7 minutes.

Portis and Harris are the first Little Rock combo to be among the Razorbacks’ top five scorers in 26 years, since senior guards Tim Scott and Allie Freeman - both from Little Rock Hall - averaged 11.8 and 6.2 points per game during the 1987-1988 season.

“I think they’re giving us some toughness, giving us some inside presence,” Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson said of Portis and Harris. “To me, we look like a different team because we’ve got some skilled big guys that can make plays.”

Arkansas is adding another player from central Arkansas with North Little Rock pointguard Anton Beard, who signed with the Razorbacks in November.

The additions of Portis, Harris and Beard are reversing a trend of some of the top players in Little Rock turning down offers from Arkansas, such as Sylvan Hills’ Archie Goodwin, who went to Kentucky, and Hall’s A.J. Walton, who went to Baylor.

“It’s good to have players from your state, there’s no question, and it’s even better that they can come up here and play and be of impact,” Anderson said. “That’s not only great for our program, but it’s great for their city, it’s great for the university.

“I think it creates great excitement for our fans because they have some guys that are from here.”

Harris said it’s good to see the Razorbacks relying more on players from Arkansas, and Little Rock in particular.

“This is the professional sport in the state,” Harris said. “Growing up you always know Razorbacks, Razorbacks, Razorbacks.”

Portis, a McDonald’s All-American last year, committed to Arkansas when he was a sophomore.

“I never really gave anyone else a chance to recruit me,” he said. “I always wanted to be a Razorback. I put in the work to get here, and now I’m just living the dream.”

Portis and Harris were on AAU teams coached by Ron Crawford.

“What’s happening now is enormous not just for theyoung people that go there to Arkansas, but also for the state pride,” Crawford said. “The better the Hogs do, the more interest there is in playing basketball among the younger kids in middle school and high school.

“I think because of what Bobby and Alandise are doing, you’ll see more and more Little Rock kids going to Arkansas.”

Portis has scored 13 or more points in nine SEC games, including an Arkansas freshman-record 35 against Alabama when the Razorbacks won 65-58 on Feb. 5.

“I think what he’s done this year is huge,” Arkansas senior guard Fred Gulley said. “It’s really tough for a freshman, regardless of the accolades they come into college with, to be able to come out here and perform the way he has. What’s impressed me the most is he never really had a freshman slump.”

Gulley said Portis didn’t struggle, as most freshmen do, with the more intense practices and games that often cause a late-season fade.

“It’s just different - thelength of the season, the pounding on the body, the strength of the players - but he’s come in and he’s adjusted very well,” Gulley said. “Even when he’s had times where things didn’t go his way, he’s worked his way out of them. He’s a guy that puts in the time, so he’ll always get the results he’s trying to get.”

Arkansas suffered its most-lopsided SEC loss of the season, 83-58, in a rematch at Alabama last Saturday, but Portis was a bright spot with 17 points, 5 rebounds, 2 blocked shots and 2 assists in 24 minutes.

“We had an uphill battle the whole game, but he was out there just competing, and he’s done that throughout the year,” Anderson said. “He doesn’t want to be a good player, he wants to be a great player, and I think he’s made great strides from the first day to where he is right now.

“No question I think he’s one of the better ones in our league. He’s one of the better ones in the country.”

Information for this article was contributed by Tom Murphy of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

SEC Tournament

MEN Georgia Dome, Atlanta All times Central

TODAY’S GAMES Auburn vs. South Carolina, 6 p.m.

Vanderbilt vs. Mississippi State *

THURSDAY’S GAMES Missouri vs. Texas A&M, noon Auburn/S. Car. winner vs. Arkansas * LSU vs. Alabama, 6 p.m.

Vand./Miss. St. vs. Mississippi * NOTE Florida, Kentucky, Georgia and Tennessee received third-round byes and will not play until Friday. * Will start 25 minutes following the end of the proceeding game

All-SEC team

FIRST TEAM

PLAYER SCHOOL POS. CLASS

Trevor Releford Alabama G Sr.

Casey Prather Florida F Sr.

Scottie Wilbekin Florida G Sr.

Julius Randle Kentucky F Fr.

Johnny O’Bryant III LSU F Jr.

Jabari Brown Missouri G Jr.

Jordan McRae Tennessee G Sr.

Jarnell Stokes Tennessee F Jr.

SECOND TEAM

Bobby Portis Arkansas F Fr.

Chris Denson Auburn G Sr.

Patric Young Florida C Sr.

Charles Mann Georgia G So.

James Young Kentucky G Fr.

Jordan Mickey LSU F Fr.

Marshall Henderson Ole Miss G Sr.

Jarvis Summers Ole Miss G Jr.

Jordan Clarkson Missouri G Jr.

Rod Odom Vanderbilt F Sr.

ALL-FRESHMAN TEAM

Shannon Hale Alabama F Fr.

Bobby Portis Arkansas F Fr.

Julius Randle Kentucky F Fr.

James Young Kentucky G Fr.

Jarell Martin LSU F Fr.

Jordan Mickey LSU F Fr.

Sindarius Thornwell South Carolina G Fr.

Damian Jones Vanderbilt C Fr.

ALL-DEFENSIVE TEAM

Patric Young Florida C Sr.

Scottie Wilbekin Florida G Sr.

Willie Cauley-Stein Kentucky F So.

Jordan Mickey LSU F Fr.

Josh Richardson Tennessee G Jr.

COACH OF THE YEAR Billy Donovan , Florida

PLAYER OF THE YEAR Scottie Wilbekin, Florida

SCHOLAR-ATHLETE OF THE YEAR Patric Young, Florida

FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR Julius Randle, Kentucky

SIXTH-MAN OF THE YEAR Dorian Finney-Smith, Florida

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR Patric Young , Florida

Sports, Pages 19 on 03/12/2014

Discussion

Submit