Despite what you may have heard at various points throughout this past football season, Arkansas isn’t completely devoid of talent.
Off the top, as many as seven Razorbacks could be on NFL rosters in some capacity next season. That’s seven seniors whose eligibility has been exhausted — because Arkansas didn’t lose anyone early to the NFL Draft — who could see pro time.
Deatrich Wise Jr. Dan Skipper. Keon Hatcher. Jeremy Sprinkle. Drew Morgan. Brooks Ellis. Jeremiah Ledbetter.
Now, the chances of superstardom from any of those seven are pretty small. Mock drafts, typically, have Sprinkle and/or Wise going first among the group. And they’re mid-round-type picks. Hatcher and Skipper come next, then Ledbetter. Ellis and Morgan are unlikely to be drafted, the so-called experts suggest.
But where you’re drafted, or even being drafted at all, has no bearing on your success in the NFL. Being drafted high simply means you’ll be paid more money sooner. Money early is nice and all, but most would take a longer career over two years and out.
Look at a guy like Trey Flowers. He stayed at Arkansas all four years, was considered a middling NFL prospect and he just led the New England Patriots in sacks. That’s the Super Bowl favorite New England Patriots with a former Razorbacks middle-round pick leading the way on defense.
Wise could be that. The defensive end has first-round talent. Some of the major prognosticators had him even going in the first round early in the season. Wise didn’t have the senior season at Arkansas he hoped for (3.5 sacks), but the freakish ability and length are attributes NFL scouts adore.
The flip side is that it’s possible only two or three of the seven land on NFL rosters. But I’m not counting out those two wide receivers, Hatcher and Morgan, or workhorses such as Ellis and Ledbetter. Their raw numbers at the combine may not overwhelm (though I do think Hatcher could measure quite well), but they didn’t in college, either, and they all turned in solid careers. Keep your eyes open.
The last time we should hear about Malik Monk
Let’s keep this short, shall we?
- Malik Monk is from the state of Arkansas.
- He grew up in Lepanto.
- He moved to Bentonville in high school.
- Monk was an elite high school basketball recruit.
- He chose Kentucky over Arkansas.
- People became angry.
- Monk and the Wildcats beat Arkansas by almost 30 points Saturday night.
- Monk will probably never play Arkansas again (barring a matchup in the SEC Tournament).
- An NBA team will take Monk in the draft this summer.
- The end.
Portis time: maybe someday
When Bobby Portis left Arkansas after his sophomore season, a season that saw him become the SEC Player of the Year, the thinking was he’d become a regular in the NBA. Portis might not be a star, but he’s a rotation guy with some inside-outside type skills and length. Those kinds of players find spots in the league for a long time. That was the common reason.
Things haven’t worked like that for Portis yet. It’s hard to say if they ever will in Chicago. He’s played in one game since Christmas and he logged 2 minutes. In all this season, Portis has played in 23 games and averaged just over 11 minutes per appearance. The Bulls sent him to the D-League a few days ago and he responded with a 30-point performance, immediately prompting a call back to the NBA.
In his first game back, he got the dreaded “coach’s decision” did-not-play status in the post-game box score. In his stead, for some reason, the Bulls rolled out some guy named Cristiano Felicio (3.7 points per game in 14 minutes). I don’t get it and neither do Bulls fans, who are pretty fed up with management and coaching in Chicago.
Unfortunately, it looks like only a change of scenery will help Portis meet his first-round status from the draft a couple years ago.
Kneel down haunts women’s hoops
Three players have left Arkansas’ women’s basketball team since the regular season began. All three were players who took part in the kneel during the national anthem in the team’s exhibition game.
Arkansas could use them right now.
Briunna Freeman became the latest to quit the team. No reason was given for her departure. She joins Jordan Danberry and Tatiyana Smith as the third player to leave the team this season. Smith quit because of an undisclosed medical reason, coach Jimmy Dykes said. All three were among the six who knelt during pre-game ceremonies in November.
Kiara Williams, Yasmeen Ratliff and Jailyn Mason were the other three. They’re still on the team, but Williams and Ratliff haven’t played in a game this season.
In the meantime, Arkansas lost its third straight SEC game to open conference play, 53-52, against LSU on Sunday.
“We had a team today that didn’t play hard,” Dykes said. “That’s about as disappointing a loss as I’ve had as a head coach.”
Whatever happened or didn’t happen after the kneel down, it’s clear Arkansas is a team that could use some of those now-missing players. Shame.