FAYETTEVILLE – It’s been a long season for Arkansas’ football team, but Mike Anderson and the basketball Razorbacks are giving fans reasons to be excited.
Last Saturday, the Hogs added their sixth verbal commitment for the Class of 2018 when heavily-recruited power forward Reggie Chaney of Henderson (Nev.) Findlay Prep went public with his decision.
The 6-7, 220-pound forward chose Arkansas over Texas A&M, TCU, Oklahoma State, Wichita State and many others.
Chaney, who lived in Tulsa (Okla.) and Frisco (Texas) before attending Findlay Prep, was the final piece for a Razorback recruiting class that currently ranks No. 9 in the nation according to Rivals.com.
Labeled as a physical, athletic big man, Chaney averaged 11.2 points, 7.3 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 1.6 steals and one block per game last season for a team that finished 33-4.
He caps off a well-rounded Arkansas class loaded with immediate help and high potential, and helps makes up for the loss of five-star center Reggie Perry, who de-committed from the Hogs this past summer.
The current class includes two four-stars in guards Keyshawn Embery of Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy and Isaiah Joe of Fort Smith (Ark.) Northside.
Embery is the nation’s No. 100 overall prospect while Joe comes in at No. 124, per Rivals.com’s rankings.
Forwards Jordan Phillips (No. 132) of Cedar Hill (Texas) and Ethan Henderson (No. 134) of Little Rock Parkview give the Razorbacks two more who are currently listed in the Rivals150 rankings.
Jonesboro (Ark.) guard Desi Sills is also considered a three-star prospect by Rivals.
While the Hogs will have to wait another year for the six-man class to arrive, Anderson’s squad should be in good shape for the current season, too.
Arkansas was picked to finish somewhere in the middle of the pack in the SEC, but the return of six seniors – led by two of the conference’s best guards in Daryl Macon and Jaylen Barford – gives the Razorbacks a chance to make postseason noise.
Macon (23 points, 5 assists) and Barford (19 points, 5 rebounds) picked up where they left off last season in a 78-66 exhibition win over Central Oklahoma last Friday night.
The Hogs also got a dozen points from fellow senior guard Anton Beard, and 8 points, 7 boards and 3 steals from promising center Daniel Gafford, who played just 15 minutes in the win.
Exactly how far the Razorbacks can go this season could come down to how much improvement has been made by big men Trey Thompson, Adrio Bailey and Dustin Thomas, who look to replace last year’s go-to inside presence Moses Kingsley.
Forward Arlando Cook, who has been reinstated to team activities but hasn’t yet reached “game shape,” according to Anderson, will be expected to contribute, as well.
The Razorbacks are also excited about the progress made by sophomore guard C.J. Jones, who scored 8 points and grabbed 5 rebounds against Central Oklahoma.
Arkansas will face its second and final exhibition opponent this Friday at 7 p.m. when Missouri Western visits Bud Walton Arena.
The Razorbacks’ season begins with three straight home games against Samford (Nov. 10), Bucknell (Nov. 12) and Fresno State (Nov. 17) before traveling to Portland (Ore.) for a highly-anticipated Phil Knight Tournament.
The “PK80” tournament field includes several basketball powers including Duke, Michigan State, North Carolina, Texas, Gonzaga, Butler, Oklahoma, Oregon and others.
The Hogs are pitted against Oklahoma in the opening round on Nov. 23 and will face either the winner or loser of the North Carolina-Portland State matchup a day later.