FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Ask a fan who the Arkansas basketball team’s best player was this season and you might have four different answers. Moses Kingsley, Dusty Hannahs, Jaylen Barford and Daryl Macon all had moments when they carried the team.
It’s a little more difficult to determine when looking at the entirety of the season, though. Stats are one thing. Eye-test another.
This is one writer’s take on ranking Arkansas players this season, top to bottom.
Note: “Best” and “most valuable” are two different things.
Also, this isn’t a projection for rotational minutes next season. It’s based off this season and this season only.
13. Jonathan Holmes, guard
Holmes is a walk-on who didn’t get his name on the back of his jersey until more than halfway through the season. When he scored his first points in the season finale, though, Arkansas fans went wild.
- Stats: 6 games (1.2 minutes per), 2 points total
12. Brachen Hazen, forward
Hazen, a freshman, has potential, but his lack of strength led to limited playing time. A growth spurt — Hazen went from 6-foot-4 to 6-foot-9 since he came to the team’s attention — changed his game. His best trait is perimeter shooting, but he isn’t a guard. If he gets stronger and starts popping perimeter buckets, Hazen could jump into the rotation.
- Stats: 14 games (3 minutes per), 3 points total
11. CJ Jones, guard
This freshman was pure energy off the bench, having made 50 percent of his 3-pointers — 12 of 24 in 21 games. My personal favorite for most improved player next season. Jones could fill Hannahs’ role as the team’s 3-point specialist. He must become a better defender.
- Stats: 21 games (6 minutes per), 2.4 PPG, .472 field-goal percentage, .500 3-point percentage, .714 free-throw percentage
10. Adrio Bailey, forward
Long and athletic, his wingspan lets Bailey play on the interior despite being about 6-5. If Bailey makes a big jump next season on the inside, Arkansas might not be down much. Bailey, a freshman, is best in space and had opportunities to show his freakish athleticism. Like others, he can rise in the rotation if he develops his jump shot.
- Stats: 27 games (7.4 minutes per), 1.9 PPG, 1.3 RPG, .564 field-goal percentage, .316 free-throw percentage
9. Arlando Cook, forward
Cook, a junior college transfer, had games in which he flashed potential and then games he wouldn’t register anything. He needs consistency. Still, the potential is there; he was a top-10 junior college recruit. If he takes better shots and continues adjusting to the Division I level, Cook will increase his minutes in his senior season.
- Stats: 36 games (11.3 minutes per), 2.8 PPG, 2.3 RPG, .438 field-goal percentage, .649 free-throw percentage
8. Dustin Thomas, forward
Thomas is a good shooter, so one must wonder why he didn’t shoot more jumpers. He’s a small power forward who hasn’t extended his game as much as would be preferred. He is a decent rebounder. But Thomas disappeared in too many games. He bore the brunt of fans frustration toward the end of the season but came back with a nice NCAA Tournament. He will be a redshirt senior.
- Stats: 36 games (18 minutes per), 5.3 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 1 APG, .486 field-goal percentage, .200 3-point percentage, .657 free-throw percentage
7. Trey Thompson, forward
He might never have a 20-point game, but Thompson might be the best passing among SEC big men. In just 14 minutes a game as a junior, he was fourth on the team in assists. He’s the bulkiest of all of Arkansas’ interior players and can be a bruising defender. Opponents eat him alive when left in space, but in the confines of a zone, Thompson is capable.
- Stats: 36 games (14 minutes per), 2.4 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 1.6 APG, .618 field-goal percentage, .655 free-throw percentage
6. Anton Beard, guard
This junior season was far better for Beard than last, when he missed the first semester and never seemed to get on track. He had his best numbers yet, but he wasn’t very good the final seven games. He’s a hustle guy with a shot and some passing skill. Necessary.
- Stats: 36 games (21 minutes per), 7.2 PPG, 2.1 RPG, 1.9 APG, 1.1 steals, .404 field-goal percentage, .4356 3-point percentage, .747 free-throw percentage
5. Manny Watkins, forward/guard
At 6-foot-3, Walker fits the “4” position. This Fayetteville High product finished a heck of a career for someone who was a walk-on. He worked himself into one of the most well-respected role players in recent Arkansas memory. His leadership and, really, his shot-making, will be missed.
- Stats: 36 games (22.3 minutes per), 6 PPG, 4 RPG, 1.8 APG, 1.25 steals, .564 field-goal percentage, .464 3-point percentage, .567 free-throw percentage
4. Dusty Hannahs, guard
This sharpshooter exits Arkansas as a fan favorite and the team leader in points this season. His skill set on offense took a big leap forward as he began driving more to the hoop. It paid off. The Razorbacks will miss his swagger, too.
- Stats: 36 games (24.8 minutes per), 14.4 PPG, 1.7 RPG, 1.2 APG, 0.4 steals, .439 field-goal percentage, .387 3-point percentage, .908 free-throw percentage
3. Jaylen Barford, guard
The top junior-college recruit in the country last year, Barford came on strong over the last third of the season. It took him awhile to return to being that player. Sometimes he was a point guard, sometimes a shooting guard. Barford took off when he started attacking the rim. If he keeps it up as a senior, Barford will be the best on the team.
- Stats: 36 games (25.4 minutes per), 12.8 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 2 APG, 1.2 steals, .438 field-goal percentage, .266 3-point percentage, .752 free-throw percentage
2. Moses Kingsley, forward
No, he didn’t have the numbers expected of the Preseason Player of the Year. But when he kept things under control, Kingsley was an absolute force as a senior. He was the Hogs’ best interior scorer by far. And his defense was top quality all season. Remember, Kingsley is the only Arkansas player to be named to consecutive all-defensive teams in the SEC. Feels like he leaves with an underappreciated career.
- Stats: 36 games (27.7 minutes per), 12 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 1.3 APG, 2.6 blocks, .467 field-goal percentage, .438 3-point percentage, .757 free-throw percentage
1. Daryl Macon, guard
He’s streaky, certainly. But it takes two hands to count how many big plays Macon delivered. And if you look at the peripheral stats, Macon is among the team leaders in all of them. His return to Arkansas as a senior might be the most important story of the offseason.
- Stats: 36 games (25.2 minutes per), 13.4 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 2.2 APG, 1.1 steals, .453 field goal percentage, .387 3-point percentage, .866 free-throw percentage