Natural State Sports new live show “The Sports Junkies” decided to draft an All-Decade Razorbacks basketball teams last week during our live show. We went in a snake draft order with my Co-host Steve and our new basketball content writer Jackson Collier live in front of our fans and viewers. The original drafted teams were put all over social media in order to get some fan reaction and see who fans think drafted the best team. Of course me being the “football guy” apparently I did not do well per the fans on my draft and have been chosen to lose this little challenge we have given ourselves. Hopefully this article will explain some of my picks and keep me undefeated in Natural State Sports challenges.
G – #24 Michael Qualls
Originally listed as a guard 6’6” tall, more of a small forward, with a great track record while at the University of Arkansas who is from Shreveport, Louisiana and attended Huntington High School. While only playing in 100 games in his Hog career with only 56 starts became a statewide favorite for fans majoring in recreation and sports management. Over his last 2 seasons while appearing in 70 games, Qualls appeared on SportsCenter’s Top 10 okays a remarkable 13 times. Qualls landed on seven of the top 10 spots, highlighted by the top spot on Jan. 14, 2014, for his amazing put-back dunk with 0.4 seconds left in overtime that gave Arkansas an 87-85 win over Kentucky at Bud Walton Arena. As a Junior Qualls averaged 23.5 points in the NCAA Tournament, good for second among all players with two or more games in the tournament. The 22nd player in Arkansas history to score 20 points in an NCAA Tournament game. Averaged a team-best 17.7 points and named to the SEC All-Tournament team. Qualls collected his first career double-double in his 100th career game, going to 27 points and a career-best 10 rebounds against North Carolina in the NCAA Tournament third round, which concluded his career at Arkansas in a Hog uniform. Qualls was a very easy pick while attending The Sports Junkies draft Thursday night. A good team leader that would be in the NBA if not for the unfortunate knee injury suffered while working out for the NBA. If only he would have stayed at Arkansas just one more year and learned more in college before jumping to the NBA he would have excelled even more in college and got drafted in the NBA and could be a star in the league.
Qualls #SCTop10 Moments
- 2014-2015 No. 3 at South Carolina (march 5, 2015)
- No. 1 vs No.13/12 Kentucky (Jan. 14, 2014)
- No 3 vs. Alabama (Jan. 22, 2015)
- No. 3 vs. Vanderbelt (Jan. 10, 2015)
- No. 3 at Missouri (Feb. 14, 2014)
- No 4 vs. SIU-Edwardsville (Nov. 8, 2013)
- No. 4 at Missouri (Feb. 14, 2014)
- No. 6 vs Missouri (feb. 18, 2015)
- No. 7 vs. Alabama (Jan. 22, 2015)
- No. 7 vs Minnesota (Nov. 26, 2013)
- No 8 vs South Alabama (Dec. 21, 2013)
- No. 8 vs Indiana State (March 18, 2014)
- No. 9 vs Missouri (Jan. 28, 2014)
G – #31 Anton Beard
A 6’0” guard from North Little Rock, Arkansas, who grew up a Hog fan and got chance to wear the Razorback uniform as many young players in Arkansas want to be able to do. As a Junior Beard played in 36 games, starting only 11 contests averaging 7.2 PPG and 2.1 rebounds. In the Mike Anderson scheme of basketball was a essential co-leader in the team. While scoring in double-figures in 15 games his Junior year also dished out multiple assists in 21 games. While many Hog fans had mixed emotions on Coach Anderson’s pick of Beard to the team, in the end he was a very influential talent that helped the team get to where they ended. Many have doubted the pick of Beard in The Sports Junkies Draft last Thursday night, but as a NLR HS graduate myself, and from watching his in High School and on the Bud Walton floor, Beard is a floor general that was just not used as he should’ve been. Instead of having him as a scorer he should have been a ball handler and a ball distributor instead of what he was focused on trying to be a scorer. As a Freshman he did make the SEC All-Freshman team and was SEC Freshman player of the week Feb. 23 2015. Overall he played in 129 games with a 38% field goal percentage which shows he should have been a ball handler and distributor, not a scorer.
F/C #33 Moses Kingsley
A 6’10” Forward, or possibly a Center, from Abuja, Nigeria who went to High School at Hunting Prep in West Virginia, a SEC Winter Academic Honor Roll was my big man pick for this team. Second Team All-SEC (Coaches) (2016-17), SEC All-Defensive Team (Coaches), All State NABC Good Works Team Nominee, Wooden Award Watch List, Naismith Trophy Watch List, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Award Watch list, Lute Olsen Award Watch List, SEC Preseason Player of the year (Media), Preseason First Team All-SEC (Coaches) and the 9th player to earn multiple selections to the SEC- All Defensive Team. The stats alone speak enough for themselves on why he is a big man to have on the All-Decade team, and well deserved mention. Kingsley finished his career at Arkansas with 1200 career points which is 25th in school history. One of only two players besides Oliver Miller to reach 1000 points and 200 blocks in a career. A true big man that can score the rock as well as protect the paint against any foe drafted last Thursday. His 768 career rebounds put his 6th in school history and finished his career with 254 blocks, 4th most is program history. Kingsley was a 67% free throw shooter from the line, which needs improvement, but is not as bad a some may think for a big man. Rebounds and blocks as a mentioned are off the charts and with a better team around him would have had more accolades than he already has to his impressive resume at Arkansas wearing a Razorbacks jersey.
G – #1 Isaiah Joe
A 6’5” guard from Fort Smith, Arkansas who went to Fort Smith Northside High School right here in Arkansas. Among active players ranks 3rd for most 3-pointers made per game in a career (3.45). Ranks 7th on the school all-time list for 3-pointers made at 207, and 6th for career 3-pointer attempted at 548. In SEC games, he has made 105 career 3-pointers to rank 6th on the school’s all-time list. Most recently he has put his name into this year’s NBA draft, but has not signed an agent which still gives Razorback fans hope that he will come back for another year on the Hill. In 2019-20 as a Sophomore despite missing five games due to a knee surgery on Feb. 4, missing a total of 6 games due to injury still made 94 3-pointers, which ranks sixth on the school’s all-time list. Broke his own Arkansas record for 3-pointers attempted in a season at 275. Ranked 18th in the NCAA and led the sex for 3-pointers made at 94. The NBA would be lucky to have him, but Arkansas would be more than happy to welcome him back alongside Coach Musselman for a Junior season and a Tournament run. Joe set an Arkansas season record for FT% in a season in SEC games at 95.6% (43-of-45). Despite injury still ranked 41st in the NCAA/ 3rd in the SEC in minutes played. Imagine what he could do with more help at Arkansas and a full healthy season. On the defensive end, led the team for the second straight year in taking charges (18). Made 3 plus 3’s in a game 18 times this past season and at least one is 25 of 26 games. All of this just as a Sophomore while having 2 different coaches in as many years. Imagine what Coach Muss could do if he does decide to come back for a Junior season as has more help on the roster.
G – #21 Manny Watkins
A 6’3” guard (on the roster) from Fayetteville, Arkansas who went to Fayetteville High School. As a Senior played in 36 games, starting 23 only averaging 6 PPG, second in the team in rebounding averaging 4 RPG. These two stats are not the most flashing but in his Senior season led the team with 45 steals, and recorded a 3.30 assist-to-turnover ratio, the best on the team. Watkins only had 20 turnovers in 802 minutes averaging one turnover per 40.1 minutes of action.
Many wondered why Watkins was a pick with a lot thinking that I was fooled into it by our Basketball writer Jackson Collier, but he was on my watch list from the beginning. His defensive presence gave me a lot of confidence that he would be able to cover just about anyone drafted as well as keep some players at bay. When you think of the best teams in basketball, Jordan’s Bulls and Kobe’s Lakers for example each has that one player that could cause havoc on the defensive end. Jordan had Rodman and Kobe had Artest. This draft pick is because of the state listen above. The PPG may not be the highest but that is why there is Joe and Qualls on the roster. Watkins is the turnover machine as well as a defensive presence that every drafted team needs to keep an eye out. May not be the flashiest player or put up stats galore, but 20 turnovers in over 800 minutes on the floor as well as 45 steals in just 36 games put him on the draft board on the All-Decade Draft as well as drafted.
After the fan votes we will see if I keep my undefeated record in Natural State Sports challenges and if not I will have to really redeam myself in the fall with out Fantasy Football Draft with the one lone loss on the board, but hopefully the fans will see where I am coming from with my picks and choose the best drafted team from the Football Guy. Reactions from fans will tell a lot. Tune in Thursday nights to The Sports Junkies at 7:30 for more exciting fun fan interactions with sports across the board.
Football Sports Writer for Natural State Sports
Co-Host of Thursday night live show “The Sports Junkies” along side Steve Hinson