Without question, Arkansas basketball took a tangible step backward in coach Mike Anderson’s fifth year with the program, finishing an even 16-6 (9-9 SEC) and missing out on the NCAA tournament last season.
But none of that was the fault of forward Moses Kingsley. The Nigerian-born big man was one of the league’s true standouts last season, averaging 15.9 points and 9.3 rebounds per game, and he accomplished enough that turning pro early was an option he strongly considered. Luckily for the Razorbacks, Kingsley will return to Bud Walton arena in 2016, and he’s attacking this summer with the goals of refining his game and continuing to improve his NBA draft stock.
What would make Moses’ final year of college hoops a success? According to Anderson, the 6-foot-10, 230-pound senior is aiming to be the conference’s very best.
“He has goals,” Anderson said. “His goals are to be hopefully not one of the better players in our conference, but be the best player in our conference… I think he’s feeling like he deserves to be one of the better players in the league and in the country.”
Aiding Moses’ cause is the supporting cast Arkansas has assembled around him. Fellow seniors Dusty Hannahs (16.5 points per game in 2015-16) and Manuale Watkins are also back, and the Razorbacks have added even more talent by landing a trio of top-tier transfers in Jaylen Barford, Daryl Macon and Arlando Cook.
“(Moses) was a guy that almost averaged a double-double. I’m looking forward to him to continue with the same mindset,” Anderson said. “He’s got some other pieces to help him and maybe take some of the pressure off, that maybe he can do even more.”
- Anderson on having all of his players currently on campus: “I think it’s big. This team, the new guys versus the old guys coming in, just get that adjustment out of the way. I really feel it’s a big factor as guys come back in the fall that guys come back and get that experience”
- Anderson on one college basketball rule he would change: “If I could change one rule in the game, I think the game is pretty good the way it is right now. But I guess for us, I think the five-second count. I think we’re doing a good job in terms of creating possessions with the five-second call. As opposed to guys just holding on to the ball, now you got to have good ball movement, you got to have people in space, you got to move the ball. As opposed to guys just dribbling the ball around.”
- Anderson on his team’s preseason plans: “Guys are working extremely hard to get prepared for a trip to Spain in August. Taking one of those four-tour trips, have four games and get a chance to see the cities over there. Madrid, Barcelona. Get a little cultural knowledge in terms of how other people live.”