After 31 years of coaching basketball, he is encountering
something new. "Talk about a challenge--nine new faces when we've
only got 12 on scholarship," Arkansas coach Nolan Richardson
says, as if he can hardly believe it himself. "There are so many
holes to fill and so many things to get accomplished."
And so many names to learn. All five of the Razorback starters
from last season are gone, including All-Americas Corliss
Williamson and Scotty Thurman, who would have been seniors this
year but opted to enter the NBA draft. Another four lettermen
departed. Richardson filled in the gaps with four junior college
transfers and five freshmen, who together make up one of the top
recruiting classes in basketball.
Headlining the class is Kareem Reid, a point guard from the
Bronx who isn't entirely new. Last fall he didn't qualify
academically to play, but he did take classes at Arkansas. Once
Reid gets back into game shape, Richardson thinks he "has a
chance to be one of the premier point guards Arkansas has had,
at least in my 10 years."
Among the rest of the signees are two who didn't set out to be
basketball players at all and one who never seriously considered
being anything else. Derek Hood is a 6'8" forward who as a
senior at Kansas City Central High had a 16.8-points-per-game
average, a 19.8-rebounds-per-game average and a 3.7 grade point
average. He didn't play basketball until the eighth grade, when
his mother remarried (Hood's father was killed in a car accident
in 1982) and his stepfather, Tony Snow, got Derek hooked on
hoops. Four years later he was a high school All-America.
Sunday Adebayo, a 6'6" forward from Nigeria who spent the last
two years at Three Rivers Community College in Poplar Bluff,
Mo., aspired to play professional soccer in Europe. But as he
grew taller, basketball became his sport. Incidentally, he can
tell you about his new passion in five languages. Pat Bradley, a
guard, quit the football and baseball teams at Everett (Mass.)
High to concentrate on hoops, becoming known for spending every
free moment in the gym.
As the incoming players hit Fayetteville with high expectations,
junior Darnell Robinson has a more humble goal--to be the player
he was expected to be. The top player out of California as a
freshman, the 6'11" center's playing time has been limited,
mainly because his food intake hasn't been. Last year, weighing
in at 295 pounds, Tank (as Robinson is known) averaged 14
minutes and 6.4 points per game. He went home to Oakland over
the summer, worked out on his own and returned to school at a
svelter 260. "This is his time," Richardson says. It may also be
time for a name change for Robinson. Truck, maybe?
To Richardson, who has won more than 75% of his games with the
Razorbacks, it seems an appropriate time for the whole team to
make a new name for itself. Entering his second decade at
Arkansas, Richardson says, "This is probably the shot in the arm
COLOR PHOTO: JOHN BIEVER Robinson is an old hand for the Hogs. [Darnell Robinson]
SF Sunday Adebayo, 6'6", Jr.
19 ppg, 11 rpg at Three Rivers (Mo.) C.C.
PF Darnell Robinson, 6'11", Jr.
16 starts are 13 more than teammates' total
C Lee Wilson, 6'11", Jr.
Took just 86 shots but made 58
SG Jesse Pate, 6'4", Jr.
Averaged 33.5 ppg at Chipola (Fla.) J.C.
PG Kareem Reid, 5'10", Fr.
Only true point guard on the roster
No returning starters
Nov. 15 vs. Northeast Louisiana
Fab 10 debuts in Preseason NIT
Nov. 28 vs. Michigan State
One reloading team meets another
Jan. 18 at Memphis
Now one of South's top rivalries
Jan. 20 vs. Mississippi State
Hogs face team they'll chase in SEC West
Feb. 11 at Kentucky
Chance to avenge OT loss in '95 SEC title game