Wally Hall is the managing sports editor for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Arkansas-Little Rock after an honorable discharge from the U.S. Air Force, he is a member and past president of the Football Writers Association of America, member of the U.S. Basketball Writers Association, past president and current executive committee and board member of the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame, and voter for the Heisman Trophy. He has been awarded Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year 10 times and has been inducted into the Arkansas Sportswriters and Sportscasters Hall of Fame.
Like It Is:
Arkansans making mark on these playoffs
Golden State Warriors guard Moses Moody dunks against the Sacramento Kings in the second half of Game 3 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series in San Francisco, Thursday, April 20, 2023. (Scott Strazzante/San Francisco Chronicle via AP)
Joe Kleine loves the NBA and this time of year. With the playoffs in full bloom, he spends a lot of time in front of his TV.
He doesn’t neglect his job at Corky’s, where he’s known as “Slash.” He buses tables, washes dishes, is a seating host, a mopper, a server and part owner.
He’s at one of the stores – they are on Westhaven Drive in Little Rock and in Lakewood Village in North Little Rock – most days, but when the games tip off, he’s finding a way to watch.
Of course, he spent 15 years in the NBA and made lifelong friends with guys like Charles Barkley and Larry Bird.
There have been quite a few Arkansas Razorbacks who went on to have NBA careers, guys like Corliss Williamson, Darrell Walker and the list goes on and on.
The Hogs have had 44 players drafted, including four who played for Eric Musselman, and that number will increase by two or three in June when the NBA Draft is held.
Just in the current playoffs there are three who rode the Muss Bus.
All total there are five former Razorbacks who played in the playoffs.
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Jaylin Williams and Isaiah Joe are with the Oklahoma City Thunder, a No. 10 seed in the Western Conference who failed to make the final field. Moses Moody plays for Golden State.
Bobby Portis, who played for Mike Anderson, is one of the main players with the Milwaukee Bucks. He averages 14.1 points and 9.6 rebounds per game for the team with the most wins in the regular season with a 58-24 record.
Portis was taken in the first round with the 22nd pick by the Chicago Bulls but seems to have found his home in Milwaukee, which years ago made Razorback great Sidney Moncrief their first pick.
Patrick Beverley, who played for Stan Heath, is with the Chicago Bulls and, considering he was undrafted after leaving the UA early because of academic issues and being in his 11th season in the NBA, his story is pretty amazing.
Beverley was a scorer at Arkansas. But at 6-2, he was one of a million shooters wanting to make an NBA roster. He went overseas for three seasons and reinvented himself into a scoring point guard and defensive stopper.
The Bulls also were a No. 10 seed and didn’t make the final field in the Eastern Conference.
Then there are two high-profile players in the playoffs with Arkansas connections, although neither played college in Arkansas.
Austin Reaves grew up in Newark, where he was a high-scoring basketball machine, once adding 73 points in a game at Cedar Ridge High School. He first attended Wichita State and then transferred to Oklahoma for his final two seasons.
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He was not drafted, but the Los Angeles Lakers took a chance and signed him to a standard contract after watching him in the Summer League. He’s become one of the most popular players on the team and averages 13 points, 3 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game.
His parents, Nicole Wilkett and Brian Reeves, both played basketball at Arkansas State, which leads us to the final Arkansas connection to the NBA.
Malik Monk played a season at Kentucky before declaring for the draft. Monk was the 11th player taken in the first round by the Charlotte Hornets in the 2017 NBA Draft.
He played with the Lakers last season before signing with the Sacramento Kings in the offseason. This season, Monk averaged 13.5 points, 3.9 assists and 2.6 rebounds per game.
Monk never played a college game in Arkansas. The Razorbacks played the Wildcats in Lexington and in the SEC Tournament his lone year at Kentucky.
He scored 12 and 17 points, respectively, in those games.
While Monk never played in this great state as a collegian, his teammate De’Aaron Fox’s mother, Lorraine Harris-Fox, sure did. She was an outstanding player for Arkansas-Little Rock from 1986-88.
Hopefully no one was overlooked while making this list of home-grown players in the NBA Playoffs.
If so, shoot me an email. All of them are read and answered.
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