Although the senior class is talented, it’s the junior class that will get a lot of attention in the early going.
Returning All-Southeastern Conference candidates Lyndsay Harris and C’eira Ricketts along with the team’s leading rebounder Ashley Daniels accounted for the majority of Arkansas’ points in 2009-10 season.
Harris tied for the team lead with 12.6 points-per-game scoring 377 points. She led the team with 75 three-pointers and a .341 average.
"I believe Lindsay Harris is about to become an All-SEC performer," Collen said. "She might be the most improved player on our team which says a lot. She has become one of the best shooters in our conference and no doubt will wear a target on her back in conference play. Last year we had to use her as our backup point guard and that was a challenge for her. This year we can play her at either wing position and try to get her more shots."
Ricketts battled the target on her back as well as new duties and injuries as a sophomore. Despite that, she scored 290 points and was third on the team with a 9.7 ppg average. "I think C’eira would be the first to tell you she had an off year and fell short of the expectations she had for herself," Collen said. "We had no backup for her at all and when she tore a ligament in her hand early in the season, it was a setback for her. I think you will see her step up and play with a lot more consistency. She is no doubt she is one of the most explosive players in our conference and capable of dominating games in stretches."
Daniels, like Ricketts and Harris, started all 30 games for the Razorbacks last year. She averaged a team-best 6.1 rpg and ranked among the SEC leaders on the glass.
"I think Ashley Daniels is really going to surprise our fans this year.," said Collen "She always plays hard which is why she is our top returning rebounder. She stayed in Fayetteville for the second straight summer to get stronger and work on her game. She can run like a deer and jump out of the gym. Look for her at the top of the rebounding charts in the SEC and to become a more consistent scorer this season."
The trio accounted for 45 percent of Arkansas’ total points a year ago.
Add to the mix juniors Jamesah Townsend, transfer Erin Gatling and the return of Julie Inman and its easy to see how strong the class is.
Townsend played in 28 games last year, scored 41 points and grabbed 57 boards.
"Jamesha just kept improving as the season went along," Collen said. "It took some time for her to discover her strengths and weaknesses and find her own little niche on our team. Consistent defense was what got her on the floor. She started to gain confidence in her jump shot near the end of the season and that allowed me to leave her on the floor. She stayed all summer and worked very hard. I think she got a taste of the player she could become and is hungry for more. Her experience as a junior will serve her well."
Inman was a regular at the point in relief of Ricketts.
"We are very pleased that Julie is back with the team," Collen said. "She felt a lot of stress last year trying to keep up with grades since she is majoring in pre-dentistry. She returned midway through the summer and is working hard. Julie can be successful at this level and I’m anxious to get her back on the court. She is an excellent shooter and decision maker and has an opportunity to leave her mark on this program’s success."
Gatling joins the Razorbacks from Southern Miss where she led the team in free throw percentage as a freshman and steals as a sophomore. She will redshirt this year due to NCAA transfer rules.
"Erin is another great addition to our roster and it’s great that she has decided to return to Arkansas," Collen said. "Our fans will love her effort and intensity. She has already made us a better team by guarding C’eira hard in practice every day.
She is lightning quick and probably could have run track at Arkansas, Collen continued. "She leads by example, takes care of the ball and will hit an open shot if you don’t guard her. I wish I had her this year."