Scottie Bordelon is a reporter for the Hawgs Sports Network. He has a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Arkansas and previously covered high school sports for the Times Record in Fort Smith and the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. He was the 2022 Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year.
What to expect from Washington transfer Keyon Menifield
Washington guard Keyon Menifield reacts after making a basket against Oregon State during the first half of an NCAA collage basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 18, 2023, in Seattle. (AP Photo/John Froschauer)
Arkansas basketball’s first addition from the NCAA transfer portal this spring is a talented young ball handler with plenty of upside.
Eric Musselman and the Razorbacks on Tuesday gained the commitment of Washington guard Keyon Menifield, a Flint, Mich., native who wrapped up his freshman season early last month. Menifield (6-1, 150) was one of two double-figure scorers for the Huskies in 2022-23 and led the team at 3.1 assists per game.
He was named to the Pac-12 All-Freshman team in March and owned the best assist-to-turnover ratio (1.8:1) among freshmen in the league.
For more insight on Menifield, I reached out to Percy Allen, who covers Washington basketball for The Seattle Times. Allen said the Razorbacks are getting a quality person and a player with some on-court flair.
“All of this stuff sounds cliche, but he was a joy to be around, a sponge,” Allen added. “There’s a lot of hair and a lot of bones. But really good with the ball. You can’t get it from him.
“You could tell early on in the summer practices, ‘Uh oh, there might be something here.’ You never really know. When you listened to the old heads kind of talk about him, they really liked him.”
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Turnovers were an issue for the Huskies last season. As a team, they committed 448 — 367 assists — and posted a turnover rate of 19.9% that ranked 298th nationally, according to KenPom data. In Pac-12 play, that figure rose to 20.7%, which ranked 11th out of 12 teams.
Menifield’s ball security and decision-making likely appealed to Musselman after his 2022-23 team posted the highest turnover rate (18.1%) of his college coaching career. Menifield had 53 turnovers in 918 minutes and turned in 14 games with 25-plus minutes and 2 or fewer giveaways.
The guard was No. 8 in Pac-12 play with an assist rate of 24.1%. Menifield is excellent at finding rim-rolling big men in ball-screen actions, and from high out on the perimeter he can make pinpoint lob passes to teammates cutting from the short corners.
Fifty-seven of his assists came on rim scores, according to CBB Analytics. Freshman guard Anthony Black led Arkansas with 66 such assists last season.
“There were times that he got rattled, and that’s to be expected,” Allen said. “For the most part, though, he was the guy on that team that was just able to get into offense and get them into something good. Where he would struggle is if you would press him, but at the same time, running an offense, running a set, he’s really good at that.
“He’s just a really good ball handler in a half-court offense and he’ll get you into your sets.”
Menifield’s shooting numbers are not stellar. He made 41% of his 295 field goal attempts and shot 33% from three-point range, but Allen noted the guard “has the ability to go off” for big scoring games. Five times last season he finished with 20-plus points, including a season-high 27 against Oregon and 21 vs. Arizona and USC.
According to CBB Analytics, he found great success offensively along both baselines — 18 of 28 — and beyond the arc on the left wing, where he hit 11 of 26 (42.3%) attempts. A 3-of-22 mark from three at the top of the key and 30.6% shooting on 72 non-rim attempts in the lane weighed down his efficiency.
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Allen said the midrange jumper was Menifield’s specialty at Washington. In conference games he made 19 of 39 (48.7%) two-point attempts beyond 10 feet. But he will take some contested looks in that area of the floor as well.
“It needs to be said that with Washington it’s a very pedestrian kind of offense,” Allen said. The Huskies’ offense finished outside the top 150 nationally in efficiency. “Not a whole lot of schemes to it, not a whole lot of complexity to it. It’s not layered in that regard. It’s basically a, ‘Your turn, my turn, your turn, my turn,’ type of a deal.
“When he’s feeling it he can get into the lane and get pull-ups, and he has a nice floater game, which I think a lot of these kids don’t use enough these days. … The one thing you can’t do, though, is take the ball away from him. He can get to any spot he wants on the floor. He’s very quick — quick dribble, quick first step, quick shot.
“The three-pointer is going to need some work, but he can get into the lane.”
Allen believes Menifield is on the upswing after a productive first college season. He added that Washington had a strong desire to keep him on the roster because its coaching staff projected a bright future for the guard.
But there are concerns. Chief among them for Allen are Menifield’s weight and his defense.
“As he goes forward, look, that weight thing is an issue,” Allen said. “He’s listed at 150. He might be 160. He was hoping to get to 175 by next year. That weight thing is a serious deal there. Bigger guys can just back him down. He hasn’t shown yet to be much of a rebounder, so that’s a deal there.
“Defensively, I’m not going to say he’s a liability, but he’s going to have to figure that end out, too. I think he’s a solid on-ball defender, but he’s going to have to get better, like a lot of freshmen.”
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