With the off-season blogging doldrums in full effect, I think now is the perfect time to bore you with the list of my 10 favorite Razorback basketball players of all time. More than 30 years of following Hog hoops left me with no shortage of worthy candidates, and whittling down the list of potential honorees to just 10 has been an emotionally draining process, one that has kept me up for nights on end and, at times, reduced me to a sobbing, incoherent mess of a man. OK - that's a slight exaggeration, but it has been difficult to pick 10. It's like asking an NBA player to name his favorite illegitimate child - there are just too many to choose from. In the end, though, I soldiered on and crafted the list that I will be unveiling over the course of the next several weeks.
One quick note before the party gets started: I've limited the list to players that I've actually seen play in a Razorback uniform. I started watching the Hogs in the 1979-80 season, when I was seven years old. That was the year after Sidney Moncrief's senior season. With that bit of context, on with the show ...
In the mid- and late-1980s, Scott Hastings made something of a name for himself - enough to make an appearance or two on "Late Night with David Letterman" - by, in Bob Uecker-like fashion, poking fun at his career as an NBA bench-warmer. But while pro basketball aficionados may regard Hastings as the quintessential 12th man, Hog fans know him as something else entirely: a damn good college basketball player who, along with U.S. Reed and Darrell Walker, formed the backbone of some damn good Razorback teams.
Hastings' Razorback career took place during the heart of what historians call "The Era of the Shaggy-Haired, Hulking White Center." And while he's often lumped together with the likes of Joe Kleine, Jon Koncak, Bill Wennington and Uwe Blab, the reedy Hastings was really more of a forward who was forced to play center because, for his last three seasons at least, he was the tallest guy on the team.
Nevertheless, he proved much more than adequate at the center position: He scored 1,779 points during his Arkansas career, which places him fourth on the school's all-time scoring list, and he was a first-team All-Southwest Conference selection in 1980, '81 and '82. Hastings also led the Hogs in rebounding and scoring during his last three seasons at Arkansas, and was a member of an Elite Eight squad in 1979 and a Sweet Sixteen team in '81. And his 1982 last-second jumper over the outstretched, insanely long arm of Hakeem Olajuwon, which gave the Hogs a nationally televised victory over the Houston Cougars, is one of the all-time classic Razorback basketball moments.
But it's more than just the fact that he was a star of the first Hog teams that I followed that makes Hastings one of my all-time faves.
When I would attend Razorback games as a kid, I would usually hang out near the locker room after the contest was over, hoping to get an autograph or two (or three or four or five). Hastings was always gracious with the fans - and funny. Very, very funny.
I was a big enough nerd that I actually enjoyed watching Eddie Sutton's Sunday-afternoon television show, and I remember that one week, Sutton played a funny home movie that Hastings had made in which he played a dorm robber of some sort. "This Hastings guy must be pretty cool," I thought to myself when I saw the clip.
Sure enough, our various Q&A's with former Razorbacks have confirmed that Hastings is good company. "[Hastings] was absolutely a nut," Greg Skulman told us. "He was the consummate cut-up." (Skulman also told us that he, Hastings, Russ Pennell and Jimmy Dykes used to sing some Dave Mason and Poco tunes together in the dorm, which strikes us a pretty awesome image.)
When we asked beloved former walk-on Eugene Nash to name his funniest teammate, he replied, "I'd say Scott Hastings. He taught you a lot about life in general. He was funny and did stuff you didn't even know was possible."
A list of my favorite Razorbacks that doesn't include Scott Hastings? Now, there's something that's not possible.
(Editor's Note: These days, Hastings is putting his sense of humor to good use as a Denver sports-talk-radio host, and he provides color commentary for Denver Nuggets television broadcasts. He also tweets.)