Todd Day: The NBA will open up Barford's game

Arkansas guard Jaylen Barford smiles after checking out for the final time in Bud Walton Arena. The Razorbacks beat Auburn 91-82 on Feb. 27, 2018.

ROGERS — Todd Day knows a thing or two about putting the ball in the hole.

Day averaged 18.9 points per game over four seasons (1988-92) at Arkansas and led the Razorbacks to three consecutive Southwest Conference titles, the 1990 Final Four and earned SWC Player of the Year in 1991.

From his junior to senior season, Day upped his scoring average from 20.7 points per game to 22.7 all the while shooting 50 percent from the floor and 43 percent from 3-point range. He shot 35 percent from distance during his junior campaign.

Day went on to play nearly a decade in the NBA, averaging 12.3 points with five franchises.

Arkansas’ all-time leading scorer has been keeping up with former Razorbacks guard Jaylen Barford’s journey toward an NBA career, which was jumpstarted last week with a trip to the NBA Draft Combine.

Day, entering his third season as men’s basketball coach at Philander Smith College in Little Rock, had friends in Chicago at the combine who told him Barford had “an extremely, extremely” productive weekend.

“I watched him on TV. He’s the kind of kid, the offensive game in the NBA will open (him) up,” Day said. “The college game kind of limits him to what he could do. But the NBA will open it up more for him to show more of his game.”

Day is impressed with Barford’s game off the dribble, and believes the 6-3 guard’s upper-body strength gives him an edge over a number of other players at his position.

“He can really get to the rack,” Day said. “He’s big enough and strong enough to finish in the paint. … One thing about the NBA is it’s all about scoring these days. They don’t really look at your size and things like that anymore.

“If you’re able to put the ball in the hole you’ll get signed.”

Barford made a significant leap in 3-point efficiency in 2017-18, too, increasing his percentage from 27 percent as a junior to 43 percent in his final season. Barford finished third in the SEC in 3-point accuracy.

With the NBA game evolving toward the 3-point line and teams finding more value in the 3-point shot, Day said Barford’s jump in that area serves him well.

“They wanted to see him expand his game outside and I think he did that,” Day said. “And like I said, once he gets to the professional level he’ll be able to get more shots up, he won’t have to go to class and things like that.

“He’ll be able to become an even better shooter.”

Arkansas coach Mike Anderson said Monday he had not spoken with Barford about his combine experience. He believes Barford returned home Monday.

Regardless, Anderson felt Barford was well-prepared for the combine process.

“I’m hopeful he did well,” Anderson said. “Big kudos to him having the chance to go out to the Portsmouth Invitational and become the MVP of that, and he earned the right to go to the combine.

“All it takes is one team to see you and like you. We'll see what happens.”