Mike Anderson's first season back home on the Hill produced some of the most exciting basketball seen in a Fayetteville in a while and a respectable home record, but also a dismal road record, a late season flame-out, and - most glaringly - yet another post season with no NCAA or NIT bid.
As an exceptionally young team, who frequently relied on substantial contributions from the heralded incoming freshman class, things only got harder when Marshawn Powell was lost for the season in late November.
Gone is senior Marvell Waithe, who has exhausted his eligibility. Michael Sanchez (who, honestly, seems to have been on the team for about 10 years now) may or may not apply for a medical hardship and a 6th year of eligibility.
Also gone is Julysses Nobles, who received a release from his scholarship in order to play his senior season elsewhere. He wasn't a great fit for Anderson's system, but always seemed to give his best effort.
In a somewhat more surprising move, it was recently announced that freshman Devonta Abron, who started 22 games, would also be leaving the program. It appears that he's transferring due to a family health issue, and will likely apply for a waiver from the NCAA for immediate eligibility when he lands somewhere.
Despite these departures, two familiar faces will be back for the 2012-2013 season. Marshawn Powell's recovery seems to progressing quite well, and BJ Young, who had at least toyed with the idea of going pro, announced that he would return for his sophomore season at the team's year-end banquet. 2013 will likely be the last time Powell, Young, and sophomore Rashad Madden don a Razorback uniform.
In addition to all this, there's a boatload a new faces for the 2012-2013 roster. JuCo transfer Davion Spivey, who is a walk-on and sat out 2011-2012 season, is built for Anderson's systems and looks to get some back-up minutes. Former Fayetteville High standout Fred Gulley transferred in from Oklahoma State during the spring. Gulley will be a walk-on and will be available in January 2013.
The biggest transfer addition came earlier this week, when it was announced that Little Rock native Alandise Harris would be transferring from the University of Houston. Harris, you may remember, torched the Hogs for 18 points in the Razorbacks' 78-87 loss to Houston at Verizon Arena. If you can't beat 'em, let 'em join you, right? Harris plans to apply for an NCAA waiver to play immediately due to a family illness. If the waiver isn't granted, he'll have to sit the 2012-2013 season out.
Anderson's incoming recruiting class includes some solid talent: Memphis shooting guard Anthlon Bell (who reports an offer from Mizzou... and has a haircut that you just can't argue with), small forward Michael Qualls out of Shreveport, Louisiana Mr. Basketball 2012 Dee Wagner, and power forward JaCorey Williams (who reports offers from Alabama, Boston College, and Mizzou). JuCo transfer Coty Clarke, who was the #2 JuCo rebounder in the country last season, rounds out the class.
Anderson's first season was respectable, but didn't quite live up to expectations. More than anything, his style requires a very specific type of player and team makeup; it's definitely not plug-and-play. Even then, the biggest issues last season were fatigue and youth. Hopefully, the pieces Anderson is putting together can help Arkansas end their 4-year NCAA Tournament drought.