It's Gafford, rest for 2018-19 Hogs

By: Bob Holt
Published: Saturday, June 30, 2018
Arkansas basketball coach Mike Anderson speaks to reporters during a press conference, Monday, May 21, 2018 at Shadow Valley Country Club in Rogers.
Photo by Charlie Kaijo
Arkansas basketball coach Mike Anderson speaks to reporters during a press conference, Monday, May 21, 2018 at Shadow Valley Country Club in Rogers.

FAYETTEVILLE -- Arkansas Razorbacks Coach Mike Anderson has been learning about a lot of new players during summer workouts.

"We're probably going to need name tags for our basketball team," Anderson said this week during the SEC coaches teleconference.

The University of Arkansas, Fayetteville has 10 players who never have worn a Razorbacks uniform. The only returning scholarship players from last season's 23-12 team that lost to Butler in the first round of the NCAA Tournament are sophomore forwards Daniel Gafford and Gabe Osabuohien and junior forward Adrio Bailey.

"It's a team that's going to have a lot of newcomers," Anderson said. "That's exciting, especially for a coaching staff.

"You've got a lot of freshness. You've got a chance to hopefully shape this team into what you want it to be."

The Razorbacks must start over in the backcourt, where they lost seniors Jaylen Barford and Daryl Macon -- both All-SEC players -- as well as Anton Beard. Also gone are transfers Darious Hall [DePaul] and C.J. Jones [Middle Tennessee State].

Arkansas' only guard with NCAA Division I playing experience is sophomore Jalen Harris, who redshirted last season after transferring from New Mexico. He played in 31 games for the Lobos as freshman, including 18 starts.

"I think it's going to be big for him to really come on for us," Anderson said.

Khalil Garland, a redshirt freshman guard from Little Rock Parkview, was held out last season when he wasn't cleared to play because of an undisclosed medical condition. Anderson said Garland still hasn't been cleared to scrimmage, but that he has been taking part in workouts.

"Khalil's participating in everything with the exception of contact," Anderson said. "So he's doing all the other shooting drills and skill development as well, and he's looking pretty good so far."

True freshman guards are Isaiah Joe from Fort Smith Northside; Desi Sills from Jonesboro; Keyshawn Embery, who is from Oklahoma City and played at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., last season; and Jordan Phillips from Arlington (Texas) Grace Academy.

Newcomers on the front line are true freshman forwards Ethan Henderson from Little Rock Parkview and Reggie Chaney from Henderson (Nev.) Findlay Prep and center Ibby Ali, who is from Nigeria and attended Maumelle.

Ali and junior guard Mason Jones from Connors (Okla.) State Community College were spring signees after Hall and Jones left the team.

Anderson said all of the newcomers were on campus for the first session of summer school.

"So far, so good," he said. "These guys are really all trying to get on the same page. The thing I've noticed that stands out with them is they're competitive. They're competing against each other already and I think that's a good sign.

"Obviously, there is potential. On paper it's a pretty good recruiting class coming in. Now our job is to put these together with the guys that are coming back."

Gafford was projected to be a first-round NBA Draft choice after a breakout freshman season, but he decided to return to Arkansas.

Anderson said Gafford has worked out with former Razorback Bobby Portis -- who plays for the Chicago Bulls -- and will participate in the Nike camp for elite college players in August.

"They bring in the top three or four at each position," Anderson said. "That will give Daniel the opportunity to see where he is amongst some of the better players in the country."

Sports on 06/30/2018

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