HawgBeat Decade in Review: Arkansas' top basketball recruits of the 2010s
As part of our Decade in Review series, HawgBeat has already taken a look back at Arkansas’ best football and baseball recruits of the past 10 years.
Now it’s time to see how the Razorbacks’ top 10 basketball signees panned out over the past decade…
1. Bobby Portis — No. 15 (Class of 2013)
Arkansas’ best player of the decade was also its top recruit of the decade, as Portis was a homegrown five-star prospect out of Little Rock Hall who could have had his pick of top programs but chose to play for the Razorbacks. He started every game of his career and was good from the jump, pouring in a freshman-record 35 points in a win over Alabama and pulling down a freshman-record 230 rebounds in 2013-14.
As a sophomore, Portis was even better. His 629 points that season rank 10th on the single-season charts, but are the most by a player since Corliss Williamson in 1994-95, while his 321 rebounds that season rank third in UA history. That helped him become the first Arkansas player to win SEC Player of the Year since Williamson won it in back-to-back seasons. For his career, Portis averaged 7.9 rebounds (sixth-best mark in UA history and the best since the 1980s) and 1.5 blocks (eighth in UA history). The Bulls took him with the 22nd overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft and he’s currently playing for the New York Knicks.
Stats per 40 minutes: 21.0 pts. (52.6 FG%, 36.5 3PT%, 73.7 FT%), 11.1 reb., 1.8 ast., 2.1 blk., 1.5 stl.
2. B.J. Young — No. 25 (Class of 2011)
One of Arkansas’ most electric point guards in recent memory, Young was part of John Pelphrey’s highly touted 2011 class that included five members of the Rivals150. A five-star prospect from Missouri, he stuck with his commitment when the Razorbacks hired Mike Anderson after firing Pelphrey. Despite starting only seven games, Young managed to lead the team in scoring with 15.3 points per game in 2011-12. His 488 total points that season are second only to Scotty Thurman’s 540 in 1992-93 among UA freshmen.
After considering entering the NBA Draft, Young returned for his sophomore season and again led the team in scoring with a 15.2-point average. He earned second-team All-SEC honors each year. That proved to be his final season in Fayetteville, as he went undrafted in 2013 and had a brief stint in the NBA G-League. Young has played professionally overseas since 2014.
Stats per 40 minutes: 22.9 pts. (47.5 FG%, 32.5 3PT%, 70.4 FT%), 5.0 reb., 4.3 ast., 1.4 stl.
3. Daniel Gafford — No. 31 (Class of 2017)
A clarinet player and percussionist in El Dorado’s marching band until a coach convinced him to play basketball, Gafford and his 6-foot-11 frame quickly emerged as a top prospect. With Portis as his mentor, though, he chose to stay home and play for the Razorbacks. It was hard not to compare the two big men as Gafford began his collegiate career, even though they had different games.
Known for his incredible dunks, Gafford didn’t attempt a single three-pointer at Arkansas and made 63.5 percent of his shots - finishing one-tenth of a percentage point behind Oliver Miller’s school record. In his first season, he racked up a freshman-record 76 blocks and he finished his career averaging 2.1 blocks per game, which ranks third in UA history. Gafford twice blocked seven shots in a single SEC game, tying a school record that had been done just four times previously and never more than once by a single player. He also owns the 10th best career rebounds per game mark at 7.4. Much like Portis, he left school after his sophomore year - skipping the NIT - and entered the NBA Draft. The Bulls took him in the second round last year and he’s played well in limited minutes as a rookie.
Stats per 40 minutes: 22.4 pts. (63.5 FG%, 56.2 FT%), 11.6 reb., 1.1 ast., 3.3 blk., 1.1 stl.
4. Ky Madden — No. 32 (Class of 2011)
Unlike the three players listed before him, Madden - known as Rashad or Ky at various points of his career - stuck around Fayetteville for four seasons. His junior season was his best season with the Razorbacks, as he led the team in scoring (12.7 ppg) and assists (2.8 apg) - becoming just the sixth player in UA history to accomplish the feat. As a senior, his scoring dipped to 9.6 points per game, but he was more of a distributor, averaging 4.6 assists per game. Only four players appeared in more than the 132 games he played and he’s a member of the 1,000-point club, finishing with 1,106. Madden went on to play professionally for five years overseas.
Stats per 40 minutes: 14.8 pts. (43.0 FG%, 34.0 3PT%, 80.5 FT%), 5.4 reb., 4.9 ast., 1.2 stl.
5. Ted Kapita — No. 53 (Class of 2015)
Although he never actually suited up for the Razorbacks, Kapita is included on this list because he did sign with Arkansas in the Class of 2015. Originally from the Democratic Republic of the Congo in Africa, he was not academically cleared when he left Huntington Prep in West Virginia. Despite rumors that he’d play professionally, Kapita went to DME Academy in Florida for a year and eventually got cleared to play at North Carolina State. In his lone season with the Wolfpack, he appeared in 26 games - including three starts - and averaged 4.3 points and 3.4 rebounds in 12.6 minutes. Even with those low numbers, Kapita opted to enter the 2017 NBA Draft and he went undrafted. He’s currently playing overseas.
Stats per 40 minutes (N.C. State): 13.8 pts. (60.8 FG%, 82.1 FT%), 10.7 reb., 1.1 ast., 1.0 blk.
6. Jimmy Whitt Jr. — No. 55 (Class of 2015)
Rarely do careers follow the path that Whitt has taken since coming out of Columbia, Mo., as a four-star point guard with several big offers. He began his freshman season in the starting lineup, but saw his playing time dwindle from 25.5 minutes over those 10 games to just 13.4 minutes over the final 22 games. Following that year, Whitt decided to transfer to SMU, where he averaged 11.4 points, 5.8 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 1.6 steals in two seasons after sitting out a year because of NCAA transfer rules.
Now back in Fayetteville as a graduate transfer, he is Arkansas’ third-leading scorer at 14.0 points per game and second-leading rebounder at 5.3 per game, while also being an excellent distributor as the starting point guard. Although he still has an awkward shot, Whitt is extremely efficient in the midrange game, shooting 54.4 percent from the floor without taking a single three-pointer.
Stats per 40 minutes (Arkansas/SMU): 13.8 pts. (47.7 FG%, 24.6 3PT%, 63.1 FT%), 6.1 reb., 3.7 ast., 1.7 stl.
7. Moses Kingsley — No. 63 (Class of 2013)
Arkansas signed only two players in its 2013 class and both turned out to be great additions. While his classmate was dominant from the start, Kingsley was much more raw than Portis and needed a couple of years to develop. Although productive in limited minutes those two years, he exploded following Portis’ departure. Kinglsey nearly averaged a double-double as a junior - 15.9 points and 9.3 rebounds - which helped him be voted Preseason SEC Player of the Year going into his senior season.
Most of his numbers went down, but he did have 93 blocked shots that year, which ranks third on the UA single-season charts. His 256 career blocks also ranks third in school history. Only Lee Mayberry and Oliver Miller appeared in more than his 136 career games and Kingsley’s 1,200 career points are the most among the players on this list. He didn’t get drafted, but he’s currently playing professionally overseas.
Stats per 40 minutes: 17.8 pts. (50.8 FG%, 67.7 FT%), 11.4 reb., 1.6 ast., 3.8 blk., 1.3 stl.
8. Rickey Scott — No. 81 (Class of 2010)
After playing in only 13 games as a true freshman under Pelphrey, Scott worked his way into the starting lineup under Anderson and enjoyed his best season as a sophomore. He shot 40.1 percent from the floor and averaged 9.1 points while pulling down 3.5 rebounds and dishing out 2.5 assists. Although he still started 20 games as a junior, Scott’s scoring was cut in half (4.3 ppg) as he shot an abysmal 23.3 percent. By the time he was a senior, he hardly played, averaging just 8.5 minutes per game.
Stats per 40 minutes: 13.1 pts. (40.0 FG%, 22.3 3PT%, 57.4 FT%), 5.3 reb., 4.0 ast., 1.4 stl.
9. Hunter Mickelson — No. 100 (Class of 2011)
Yet another piece of that touted 2011 class, Mickelson was an in-state product from Jonesboro. Not much of a scoring threat, the 6-foot-10 forward developed a reputation as a shot blocker. He shattered Oliver Miller’s freshman record by racking up 72 blocks in 2011-12, a record that has since been broken by Gafford. Despite starting 20 games as a sophomore, Mickelson opted to leave Arkansas and transfer to Kansas. He didn’t do much with the Jayhawks, averaging just 2.4 points in 7.4 minutes while playing in 45 games across two seasons. Most recently, he played professionally in South America.
Stats per 40 minutes (Arkansas/Kansas): 12.7 pts. (46.4 FG%, 68.3 FT%), 9.1 reb., 1.3 ast., 4.3 blk., 1.7 stl.
10. Devonta Abron - No. 108 (Class of 2011)
Abron’s career at Arkansas lasted just one season. He started 22 games in Anderson’s first year, averaging 5.7 points and 4.2 rebounds, but opted to transfer closer to home. The Dallas native landed at TCU, where he received immediate eligibility because of an illness in his family. He was a significant contributor for the Horned Frogs as a sophomore, posting career highs with 7.4 points and 5.9 rebounds, but a torn Achilles sidelined him for the entire 2013-14 season. Over his last two years in college, he averaged just 3.8 points in 9.8 minutes.
Stats per 40 minutes (Arkansas/TCU): 14.4 pts. (46.4 FG%, 61.3 FT%), 11.2 reb., 1.2 ast., 1.0 blk., 1.5 stl.
Other Rivals150 Signees from 2010-19
- Mardracus Wade - No. 110 (Class of 2010) - Played four years at Arkansas… Best season was as a sophomore, when he averaged 10.8 points
- Anton Beard - No. 111 (Class of 2014) - Started 63 games in four years despite an off-court issue before his sophomore season… His 2.05-to-1 career assist-to-turnover ratio ranks eighth in UA history
- Isaiah Joe - No. 116 (Class of 2018) - Shattered the UA single-season three-point record as a freshman… His 113 deep balls also tied the SEC freshman record
- Keyshawn Embery-Simpson - No. 117 (Class of 2018) - Transferred to Tulsa following his freshman season
- Jacorey Williams - No. 129 (Class of 2012) - Transferred to Middle Tennessee following an off-court incident before his senior season… Became the Conference USA Player of the Year and an AP honorable mention All-American in 2017
- Jordan Phillips - No. 141 (Class of 2018) - Transferred to UT-Arlington midway through his freshman season
- Aaron Ross - No. 143 (Class of 2011) - Never made it to Arkansas, but averaged 9.7 points over final two seasons at Texas Tech
- Michael Qualls - No. 149 (Class of 2012) - Developed into a star by his junior season, averaging 15.9 points and 5.3 rebounds… Known for his high-flying dunks, he provided an all-time highlight with his buzzer-beating dunk to take down Kentucky
- Reggie Chaney - No. 149 (Class of 2018) - Started a pair of games and averaged 5.4 points in 16.3 minutes as a freshman… Coming off the bench this season and averaging 3.1 points in 14.5 minutes
- *Jaylen Barford (Class of 2016) - Unranked because he was a JUCO player, but was a four-star prospect… Scored 1,087 points in two years with the Razorbacks
HawgBeat Decade in Review
Dec. 18 - Top Football Recruits of the 2010s (top 10 on offense and defense)
Dec. 19 - 10 Best Football Wins of the 2010s
Dec. 21 - Top 25 Football Players of the 2010s
Dec. 23 - 10 Best Coaches of the 2010s
Dec. 27 - Top Baseball Recruits of the 2010s (top 10 who made it to campus and who didn’t make it to campus)
Jan. 9 - Top Basketball Recruits of the 2010s