Razorback basketball recruits reveling in direction of program

By: Dudley E. Dawson
Published: Thursday, January 26, 2017
El Dorado center Daniel Gafford (10) defends a shot from Hot Springs' Taryvun Gordon (2) during a game Friday, Dec. 16, 2016, in Hot Springs.
Photo by Mara Kuhn
El Dorado center Daniel Gafford (10) defends a shot from Hot Springs' Taryvun Gordon (2) during a game Friday, Dec. 16, 2016, in Hot Springs.

Not only did Arkansas' rally from 15 points down in the final six-plus minutes to win at Vanderbilt inspire the Razorbacks players, coaches and fans, but also the highly regarded future signees and commits that are headed to Fayetteville.

El Dorado senior center and 2017 Razorback signee Daniel Gafford (6-foot-11, 223 pounds), who is averaging 17.8 points, 17.0 rebounds and 8.3 blocks for his 17-3 team, was thrilled with what he saw develop late in Arkansas' 71-70 win.

"The comeback was one of the best things that I have seen the Arkansas team do," Gafford said. "Coming back against a team with so much talent like Vanderbilt is a great accomplishment and I am proud of the Hogs because they held their composure and came out with a win.

"That is something a great team does when it comes to the game of basketball."

Arkansas (16-4, 5-3) now has the same record both overall and in SEC play that it did two seasons ago when the Razorbacks went to the NCAA Tournament and finished 27-9, their best season in 20 years.

Little Rock Mills senior forward Darious Hall (6-7, 210), another Arkansas 2017 signee and four-star prospect averaging 16.1 points, 8.4 rebounds and 2 steals per game, got to see the most important part of the game.

"I got to see the last part and it was all about who wanted it more and Arkansas played to the last bell sound," Hall said. "I am proud of them and can't wait to help when I get there."

Little Rock Parkview senior guard Khalil Garland (6-6, 190), averaging 18 points and 8 rebounds a contest and in ESPN's Top 100 along with Gafford and Hall, also got to see the game.

They are all part of a recruiting class that is ranked 10th nationally by ESPN.

"I think that was a great win for us," Garland said. "They showed no quit in them and kept playing till the end of the game. Being 16-4 is a great record.

"I think that was a great comeback and they showed that you never quit playing until the clock has all 0's on it."

Former Arkansas assistant football coach Fitz Hill, the father of 2019 Razorback point guard commit and Little Rock Christian sophomore Justice Hill, is happy with what he is seeing from a Razorback team that has won four straight.

"Wow," Hill said. "So proud of Coach Anderson and the Razorbacks. Winning back-to-back SEC road games and four in a row speaks to the progress and maturation of the team. Love the confidence and enthusiasm the Hogs are playing with."

Justice Hill was happy to see his friend Daryl Macon hit three free throws with 1.6 seconds left to seal the win.

"So happy for D-4 (Macon) and the Hogs," Hill said. "Worked out with D-4 this summer and so happy to see his hard work pay off in the clutch! Coach A got 'em rolling."

Jonesboro guard Desi Sills, one of four commits in a 2018 Razorback recruiting class that is currently ranked No. 1 in the country by ESPN, also was thrilled with the win.

Sills joins Little Rock Parkview forward Ethan Henderson (6-9, 190), Fort Smith Northside shooting guard Isaiah Joe (6-4, 180) and Thomasville, Ga., center Reggie Perry (6-10, 225).

"I feel great about them winning and they beat a tough opponent," Sills said. "It's great for them to get the win at Vanderbilt. I hope the keep pushing and continue to win. It's wonderful to see the Razorbacks 16-4."

Memphis Cordova junior Rodgerick Brown (6-6, 210), another 2018 target for Arkansas that is averaging 21.3 points and 12.7 rebounds, got to see the whole game.

"Yes, we saw it," Brown said. "Great comeback. The pressure did change the game."

"Dusty (Hannahs) showed he could affect the game without the 3-ball. Macon was real clutch. Had me thinking he was going to win the game."

Perry said he wasn't able to watch the game live, but saw it on replay.

"My Hogs played their hearts out," Perry said. "I love the way they played hard and fought on the court, accepting nothing less than a win. I especially loved the ice in Daryl Macon's veins."

Sports on 01/26/2017

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