Arkansas Razorbacks College Basketball Preview

Arkansas Razorbacks College Basketball Preview
  • Head Coach: Eric Musselman (third season)
  • 2020-21 Record: 25-7
  • Notable Wins: at. Mizzou, vs. Alabama, vs. Texas Tech

The Arkansas Razorbacks opened last season by winning their first nine games by double figures. They’d drop four of their next five, before dominating SEC play and winning ten of their final eleven contests.After beating Missouri in the first round of the SEC tournament, they’d fall to LSU in the quarterfinals.

The Razorbacks would take care of Colgate in the round of 64, before narrowly escaping from Texas Tech and upset-seeking Oral Roberts. Arkansas would run into Baylor in the Elite Eight where they couldn’t overcome a poor shooting night from star guard Moses Moody, and they’d fall to the eventual national champions.

Arkansas Razorbacks Roster Changes

  • Key Returners: G JD Notae, G Davonte Davis, F Connor Vanover
  • Key Losses: G Moses Moody, F Justin Smith, G Jalen Tate,
  • Key Newcomers: G Chris Lykes, F Stanley Umude, G Au’Diese Toney

Arkansas will return a few pieces from last year’s core, but they will lose three big pieces heading in the 2021-22 season. After completing a sensational freshman season, Moses Moody declared for the 2021 NBA Draft. The 6’6 guard led the Razorbacks in scoring (16.8), grabbed 5.8 rpg, and scored 25 or more six times. They will also lose their leading rebounder in forward Justin Smith.

The IU transfer came in and immediately gave the Razorbacks an interior presence. Smith averaged 13.7 ppg, 7.3 rpg, and he scored a season-high 27 points against Colgate in the NCAA Tournament. Starting guard Jalen Tate will be missed as well after averaging a well-rounded 10.9 ppg, 3.8 rpg, and a team-leading 3.8 apg.

Head coach Eric Musselman has been active this summer in efforts to replace a good chunk of last season’s Elite Eight run. Adding Au’Diese Toney, Chris Lykes, and Stanley Umude through the transfer portal was a great start. Toney had a solid junior season, finishing second in scoring (14.4), rebounds (5.9), and assists (2.3) for Pittsburgh.

Arkansas Razorbacks Lykes

Lykes packs a punch at 5’7, and he led Miami in scoring (15.4) during the 2019-20 season. Umude had a phenomenal season at South Dakota, averaging an impressive 21.5 ppg, 7.1 rpg, and 3.1 apg. Musselman also landed one of the best guards in Georgia in Chance Moore, and signed Jaxson Robinson from conference rival Texas A&M, and Trey Wade from Wichita State.

Robinson was one of the top guards coming out of the state of Oklahoma in 2020, but he was unable to break through in College Station last season. Wade averaged 6.7 ppg, and led the Shockers in rebounding (5.6).

The additions of Umude, Lykes and Toney should mesh well with the returning rotation. Senior guard JD Notae was awarded the SEC Sixth Man of the Year Award after creating instant offense and scoring 12.8 ppg off the pine.

Fellow guard Davonte Davis will look to take on a bigger role after averaging 8.5 ppg and 4.5 rpg during his freshman season. He’s the Razorbacks’ best defender, and he started to come into his own during the NCAA Tournament, scoring double figures in all four games.

Desi Sills returning for his senior season will provide even more depth in the backcourt. 7’3 Connor Vanover scored 6.3 ppg, and grabbed 4.5 rpg, and after becoming an afterthought in the Big Dance, he should start in Smith’s absence.

Outlook

Projected Lineup: G Chris Lykes, G Davonte Davis, G Au’Diese Toney, F Stanley Umude F Connor Vanover

Things are looking really optimistic in Fayetteville. Eric Musselman did a tremendous job retooling and reloading for another late-season run. The losses of Moses Moody and Justin Smith are big, but incoming production will have Arkansas right back in the picture to contend on both a conference and national stage.

The play of Chris Lykes and how he responds from injury will be a huge factor in the team’s success this season. Stanley Umude should thrive in Musselman’s small-ball system, while Au’Diese Toney is the type of glue player that will make everyone around him better.

JD Notae should settle right back into his effective sixth man role, while Davonte Davis will continue to grow and guard the opposing team’s best player every night. The Razorbacks are going to give Alabama, Tennessee, and Kentucky trouble atop the SEC, and they will be threats to win their first regular season title since the 1994 Final Four run.

Projected Finish: 2nd in SEC, NCAA Tournament Bid

About Corey Ghee 11 Articles
Avid sports writer and bettor. VCU Alum. Dodgers Fan. Cameron Crazy. Longhorn Football. James Harden Advocate. 4x Fantasy Football Champion. I love the game of basketball but I serve a diverse perspective of sports, from court to field to pitch to diamond to ice to clay. There’s always a decision, and a profit to be made. I’m here to help and learn along the way. Spreads, lines, totals, let’s win together.