For the first time in a very long time, Arkansas will be without having either Bobby Portis or Moses Kingsley in the middle. How do you fill those very large, size 18 shoes? This year Arkansas will try to do that with some senior experience and some new talent.
6’8” 215 lbs. Senior
For about half of last season, Cook was a steady 10-15 minute type of player. Never a big scorer but he was second on the team behind Moses in Offensive Rebounding Percentage. For a team that is already weak on the glass, the Hogs will need him to rebound well this season.
He could fill out a similar role this season, but definitely not to start. Cook is back with the team after an extended time away due to his second arrest during his time in Fayetteville. Cook was arrested after a fight on Dickson Street and Anderson said he feels like he spent his time away from the team as reasonable punishment. While he’s back practicing he’s still likely to miss a few games to start.
6’11” 234 lbs. Freshman
Gafford was the biggest recruiting win Anderson has had since getting Portis and Kingsley. The best player coming out of Arkansas this year, Gafford has outstanding length that will get a lot of blocked shots this year. His jump shot still needs some polishing, but the athleticism and talent are clearly there. In the Red-White Game he was only adding to the expectations with 23 points on 15 shots to go with 15 rebouds.
It is important to remember that part of what made Kingsley so good was his development in his time at Arkansas. Don’t expect Gafford to do all the things Kingsley did right off the bat. He has the tools and may very well get there, he’s a big reason to get excited this year but he’s still making the jump to Division 1 basketball.
6’8” 219 lbs. Freshman
Osabuohein lists his hometown as Toronto, Canada but comes directly from Southwest Academy in Little Rock. He’ll likely be filling the spot left by Brachen Hazen who transferred to Ball State. He’s another lengthy tweener who could develop into a Bailey or Cook type of player.
6’8” 225 lbs. Senior
Thomas, like Cook, will be in there to clean the glass. During conference play he quietly had one of the better defensive rebounding percentages in the SEC. There is a tendency to pull up for a midrange jumper that isn’t quite smooth enough for effective enough, but he seems intent on trying it.
He will also need to reduce the fouls he commits while defending as he hit four or more fouls in 15 games last year. Offensively his passing does look like it could be an asset. He had nine assists in the Red-White game. If he joins Thompson as prolific passing big men, they would create a really unique problem for defenses this year.
6’9” 265 lbs. Senior
Thompson is one of the rarest breeds of basketball player. He led the team in assist rate, was second in defensive rebounding percentage, and blew everyone away in effective field goal percentage. I’m not going to comb through the ridiculously large amounts of teams there are in D1 Basketball, but I doubt many players, if any, can boast that as well.
Thompson might not take a shot more than five feet from the rim this season, and that’s okay. He knows to stay in his lane. He by no means is a gamebreaker, but should get plenty of rebounds and help the offense flow with his passing ability.
This season, when talking about the post play of Arkansas it will alternate between excitement over Daniel Gafford and filling the absence of Moses Kingsley. Both are very reasonable and relevant talking points. Don’t forget about the underrated things like Thompson’s passing, or Cook’s and Thomas’ rebounding. They may not get talked about but they could win, or lose, games for the Hogs this year.