FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The Arkansas Razorback basketball team begins practice for the 2006-07 season with Razorback Hoop Mania, an event open to the public on Friday, Oct. 13, in Bud Walton Arena.
The event features contests for fans as well as a team scrimmage.
Doors open at 9:15 p.m. On-court skills contests are scheduled at 9:40 followed by a performance by one of the spirit squads.
The players take the floor at 10 p.m. and are scheduled to scrimmage for two 20-minute halves.
“We want to again make our first practice an exciting event for any fans who want to see the team and have fun in Bud Walton Arena,” head coach Stan Heath says. “We will introduce our team, have competition among some of the fans, the spirit groups will be there and we’ll have a scrimmage. I hope our fans will show up and get a glimpse of this year’s team.”
Heath’s club returns two starters and seven lettermen from last year’s club. In 2005, the Razorbacks went 22-10 with their most wins since 1999 and made their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2001. UA tied for second in the SEC’s Western Division, beat two top 10-ranked teams and had the best home record in the SEC at 15-1. Under Heath, Arkansas has gone from nine wins in 2003 to 12 in 2004, to 18 in 2005 and to 22 in 2006.
The top returnees for 2007 are junior forward/center Steven Hill (3.0 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 2.8 blocked shots), junior forward Charles Thomas (9.7 ppg, 5.0 rpg, .520 field goal percentage), junior forward/center Darian Townes (9.5 ppg, 5.1 rpg, .500 field goal percentage) and junior forward Vincent Hunter (3.7 ppg). Other returnees are sophomore guard Sean McCurdy (40 assists, 18 turnovers), sophomore forward Cyrus McGowan and junior guard Preston Cranford.
Arkansas’ recruiting class is ranked No. 2 in the Southeastern Conference, and No. 14 in the nation by Scout.com and No. 15 by Rivals.com. The rankings do not include junior guard Gary Ervin, who transferred to Arkansas from Mississippi State and sat out last year.
Freshman guard Patrick Beverley averaged 37.3 points along with 8.0 steals as a senior at Marshall High School outside Chicago, Ill. He led Illinois in scoring and was third in voting for Mr. Basketball in the state.
Ervin was third in the SEC with 4.7 assists as a sophomore two years ago at MSU. He also averaged 7.4 points and 2.4 rebounds.
Junior forward Sonny Weems was rated the No. 1 junior college prospect in the nation by Street & Smith’s and Juco Junction (Rivals) before leading Arkansas-Fort Smith to the National Junior College Athletic Association national championship last year. He averaged 15.7 points as a sophomore.
Freshman guard Stefan Welsh is expected to contend with Beverley for the starting spot at shooting guard. He averaged 17 points at Hargrave Military Academy last year. As a senior at Woodside High in Newport News, Va., he averaged 20 points, and was a Nike All-American in 2004 and 2005.
Six-ten, 229-pound freshman forward/center Michael Washington averaged 31.6 points, 14.8 rebounds and 9.0 blocked shots as a senior at Genesis One Christian School in Mendenhall, Miss. He earned all-state honors, and was rated the No. 23 player in the nation and the No. 5 power forward in the nation by Rivals.com. He was listed as the No. 71 prospect in the country by Scout.com and No. 106 by Basketball Times.
Beverley was ranked the No. 59 overall prospect and the No. 14 shooting guard in the country by Scout.com. Welsh was ranked the No. 69 overall prospect by Basketball Times.