FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Daryl Macon and Jaylen Barford should not return to Arkansas.
Unless they want to.
It’s irrelevant what you want, I want, Mike Anderson wants. The best decision Arkansas’ 2 junior guards can make is the one each will make.
The issue comes in that no one is sure what those decisions will be.
Macon wrote a message to Arkansas fans on Friday, thanking them for their support. He tweeted it with sincerity. He deleted it with sincerity, too.
Macon did the common thing for college athletes with a message. He wrote it and posted it to Twitter. It gets around the 140 characters limit. Within minutes, though, he pulled it. Based on the responses it received, it’s easy to understand why.
Let’s back up, actually.
About 5 hours earlier, the University of Arkansas sent a press release announcing Macon and Barford were declaring for the NBA draft. Neither would hire an agent, meaning they could return to school if they withdrew by May 24. Nothing more was said.
Until Macon tweeted. Combining the day’s earlier announcement and the “thank you,” conclusions were drawn. It honestly did sound like Macon wasn’t planning to return.
Fans and media outlets both responded quickly — most of the former with best wishes, and most of the latter with reporting the tweet. Then there were a few who went beyond. On both sides.
Some harassed Macon, telling him he wasn’t NBA material.
— Heath Clark (@HeathClark17) April 15, 2017
— John Robus (@rohnjobus) April 15, 2017
Those are hardly the most hostile responses about the news. But they’re the type that made Macon pull the tweet. The lack of appreciation from some people was stunning.
But that’s the thing, Macon isn’t playing for you. “I hope you stay” is nice and all, but it’s rather selfish. The phenomenon of saying things to your favorite athletes, positive or negative, on social media is an odd one. Not one of them is going to say, “Well, they love me, perhaps I should return, after all.”
No, Macon and Barford will return to Arkansas if they want to. Family, friends, coaches, and consultants will be the ones helping them make that decision.
And whatever that decision is, it is the best one.