FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Guard Gary Ervin has joined the Arkansas basketball program, Razorback head coach Stan Heath announced on Monday.
Ervin transferred from Mississippi State, enrolled at UA and began attending summer school classes on Monday. A sophomore at MSU last year, Ervin is on scholarship at Arkansas and must sit out the upcoming 2006 season, but will have two years of eligibility beginning with the 2007 campaign.
“He is an experienced, proven player,” Heath says. “His toughness, speed and heart make him really attractive. Those are things you can’t coach or put a measuring stick on. He has to sit out a year, but it will give him time to get familiar with our players and our program, and he will be a valuable asset.”
Ervin, a 5-11, 170-pound native of Brooklyn, N.Y., averaged 7.4 points, 2.4 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 1.1 steals as a sophomore, helping the Bulldogs go 23-11 and reach the second round of the NCAA Tournament. MSU beat Stanford in the first round and lost to Duke in the second round. In the two NCAA Tournament games, he averaged 4.0 points, 3.5 assists and 1.5 steals.
Ervin started 33 of 34 games as a sophomore, shooting 38.3 percent from the floor (88-230) and 23.3 percent on three-pointers (10-43). A big part of his game is penetration and he got inside enough to earn 95 free throw attempts, which ranked second on the team to Lawrence Roberts. He made 66 of those, 69.5 percent.
His 4.7 assists ranked third in the Southeastern Conference and his assist-to-turnover ratio (1.58:1) was seventh.
He had 14 assists against Florida A&M and 10 against Jacksonville State in 2005, becoming the first Bulldog to record 10 or more in consecutive games since Chuck Evans in 1993. He also had 11 points against JSU for his first double-double and later had another with 15 points and 11 assists against Ole Miss. He also had 11 points, seven rebounds and six assists against Auburn, and 12 points, six assists and three steals against Georgia.
In MSU’s 57-55 win at Arkansas on March 1, Ervin hit a three-pointer with 1:09 remaining to give the Bulldogs a 56-52 lead.
Going into his sophomore season, he was named the SEC’s best penetrator by Street & Smith’s, the SEC’s player on the rise by The Sporting News and one of the top 10 breakout players in the nation by FOXSports.com.
“The addition of Gary addresses our future needs at the guard position,” Heath says. “He had a lot of interest in Arkansas. He likes our fans and our style of play, and he thinks he can mesh with our younger players and help us reach the next level.”
As a freshman, he averaged 5.4 points, 2.5 assists, 1.1 rebounds and 1.0 steal while coming off the bench in 30 contests. He earned SEC All-Freshman honors.
In high school, Ervin was named All-New York City twice after leading Robeson High to the finals of the Public Schools Athletic League (PSAL) “A” championship as both a junior and senior with a 27-2 record in 2001 and a 29-4 mark in 2002. He averaged 30.0 points and 10.0 assists as a senior and was named New York Newsday’s 2002 All-City Player of the Year.
He spent the 2003 year at Notre Dame Prep where he averaged 17.0 points and 7.0 assists, helping his team go 30-9 with a national top eight finish.
Ervin started in the 2003 McDonald’s All-American Game, and had 12 points, six assists, five rebounds and two steals.
“Quite a few schools have added transfers in the past,” Heath says. “We feel like it’s a win-win situation. Gary saw something he wants to be a part of. He’s been to the NCAA Tournament and has leadership qualities, and he assures us of having an experienced guard going into the future after this season.”
The top guards for the Razorbacks in 2006 will be senior Eric Ferguson (8.8 ppg, 4.3 apg), All-SEC junior Ronnie Brewer (16.2 ppg, 3.4 apg, 2.5 steals) and senior Dontell Jefferson (4.1 ppg, 2.1 agp) with incoming freshman Sean McCurdy also figuring into the rotation.
Arkansas was 18-12 last year. Brewer led the way, followed by SEC All-Freshman center Darian Townes (10.2 ppg, 4.6) and senior-to-be forward Jonathon Modica (9.6 ppg).