Scottie Bordelon is a reporter for WholeHogSports.com. A graduate of the University of Arkansas, Bordelon previously covered high school sports for the Times Record in Fort Smith and the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in Springdale. He is a member of the U.S. Basketball Writers Association and Football Writers Association of America and voter for the Biletnikoff Award.
What to expect from Wichita State transfer Ricky Council
Wichita State's Ricky Council IV, front, is fouled by Houston's Tramon Mark during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas basketball headed into the weekend on a high note.
The Razorbacks on Friday brought on board another intriguing player from the NCAA transfer portal. The program’s fifth spring-time addition to the 2022-23 roster is former Wichita State wing Ricky Council, he announced on Instagram.
Missouri forward Trevon Brazile, Arizona State’s Jalen Graham and Rhode Island twins Makhi and Makhel Mitchell previously signed with Arkansas.
Council, who has three seasons of eligibility remaining, was regarded by one American Athletic Conference coach in 2021-22 as the best NBA prospect in the conference. According to The Athletic’s Sam Vecenie and CJ Moore, he was the No. 12 available transfer in a ranking that was updated Friday.
“He can fly in an open court and finish above the rim,” Vecenie and Moore wrote. “He’s also got some shiftiness to him and can get his own shot off the bounce. He’s a little wild sometimes and takes some questionable shots, but when he’s on, he can really score.”
Council (6-6, 205 pounds) finished last season as Wichita State’s second-leading scorer at 12 points per game on 43.7% shooting and 30.6% from three-point range. He was one of the bright spots in an offense that placed 159th nationally in efficiency, according to KenPom data, and middle of the pack in the AAC.
There is a bit of concern with the wing in regards to inconsistent three-point shooting and turnovers. Council made 12 of 46 perimeter looks in conference play last season, and he committed three or more turnovers 12 times.
According to Hoop Math, he was 30 of 71 (42.3%) on two-point jumpers in 2021-22 and 51 of 91 (56%) at the rim. The scores and attempts were both second to Shockers 6-8 center Morris Udeze.
Council was also No. 2 on the team with 13 offensive rebound putbacks.
“He’s a capable shooter, but that’s where he needs the most work,” Vecenie and Moore added. “His mechanics are not consistent and he has some really bad misses. But plenty of coaches are going to look past that because of everything he can do athletically.”
Arkansas falls into that category.
Council could very well have the best body of the Razorbacks’ incoming and returning players. And he holds plenty of defensive upside.
In an interview with WholeHogSports after his official visit to Arkansas, Council said his goal was to win defensive player of the year in the league he landed in. With his size, explosiveness and ability to guard multiple positions, he can be an immediate asset as a defender.
Council was described in Wichita State’s game notes as a “versatile, long-limbed athlete who impacts the game in a variety of ways.” He has a 6-10 wingspan.
Last season, Council posted the second-best defensive rating (96.3) among five Shockers players who logged more than 500 minutes. He was also second in defensive win shares (0.5), according to Sports Reference, which is an estimate of the number of wins contributed by a player on account of his defense.
Taylor Eldridge of The Wichita Eagle wrote in January that the wing has “ultra-quick hands and good instincts that lead to a ton of deflections and fast breaks.” Council ranked in the top 25 in the AAC in block and steal percentage last season, according to KenPom.
He also grabbed 15.5% of available defensive rebounds when on the floor, which placed 23rd.
“When I’m talking to Ricky, it’s all about defending, taking care of the basketball and making sure he can execute,” Wichita State coach Isaac Brown told The Wichita Eagle. “We know he can score. When you do those other three things, it makes life easier.”
If all goes according to plan, Council will make life much tougher on the Razorbacks’ opponents next season.
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