FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Nolan Richardson took little time taking steps to off-set the loss of a big senior class this year as Arkansas’ head basketball coach signed four players on Wednesday’s first day of the fall signing period.
As expected, Smackover’s Jonathan Modica, a 6-4, 185-pound guard/forward, signed with the Razorbacks after orally committing late last spring. The Hogs also inked 6-6 guard Andre Iguodala of Springfield, Ill. The two other newest Razorbacks, Rashard Sullivan, a 6-9, 220-pound forward, and Brandon Tobias, a 6-7, 212-pound forward, are both from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and played on the Coast to Coast AAU team in the summer.
Modica, Iguodala and Sullivan are all rated as high honorable mention All-Americana by Street & Smith’s.
“We feel this is a very good recruiting class,” Richardson said. “(Assistants) Mike Anderson and Brad Dunn worked very hard. We feel we have the chance to get back to some of the good things we experienced with other young teams. We are very happy and honored that we’re able to get back in the program this kind of kid that can play the style of basketball I teach and enjoy.”
As a junior, Modica was second-team all-state after averaging 33.4 points, 8.9 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 2.8 steals per game. He shot 77 percent from the free-throw line, 67 percent from the field and 46 percent from three-point range. He also led the Arkansas Hawks to the AAU state championship, scoring 20 points and grabbing 10 boards in the title game.
“He’s probably the best athlete in Arkansas,” Richardson said. “He has the chance to be a very good basketball player. He’s a big guard, small forward type of player with tremendous athletic ability. We’re extremely proud to have a kid like him, who from Day 1 wanted to be a Razorback.”
The Bob Gibbons’ All-Star Report ranks Modica the 25th-best prospect in the nation. He participated in the USA Basketball Youth Development Festival in Colorado Springs, Colo., in June, playing on the South team.
Iguodala averaged 13.1 points and 6.2 rebounds per game while shooting 58.8 percent from the floor at Lanphier High School. The Nike All-American averaged 21.0 points a game in summer AAU play and was named the national tournament MVP after hitting the game-winning shot at the buzzer to help his team win the 17-and-under national title. He signed with Arkansas after also considering Arizona, Kansas, Maryland, Illinois and Boston College.
“He is a very multi-dimensional player,” Richardson said. “He’s is the same mode as Joe Johnson. He can play the point, the two or the three. He’s 6-6 now and will be close to 6-7 when he gets here. He’s really blossomed in the last six months and he’s got to be one of the top 10 players in the country.”
Sullivan, also a Nike All-American, plays at St. Thomas Aquinas after averaging 15.0 points and 12.0 rebounds at Miami’s Norland High School last year.
“We were looking for size, rebounding and an athlete, and he’s a tremendous athlete,” Richardson said. “He’s a great jumper who fits the bill as a small forward or a power forward, and more than that, he can pass the ball.”
Tobias was injured last year and averaged just 6.0 points and 6.0 rebounds in limited games, but helped Dillard High win its second straight state title. He had a breakout summer playing for Coast to Coast, averaging 17.0 points and 12.0 rebounds per game.
“He’s like a warrior,” Richardson said. “I remember watching that team play and thinking I may have gotten on him too late. I was so impressed I followed him all the way on (in AAU ball). He’s a rebounding machine, tries to block every shot, is mentally tough, is a better than average jumper and he has a good jump shot. He’s a guy who, as time goes by, people will wonder how he got out of Florida.”
Modica signed with Arkansas over Tennessee, Kentucky and Florida. Sullivan signed with Arkansas after also considering Wake Forest, Miami (Fla.) and Florida International.
Arkansas loses four seniors from this year’s club, all guards: T.J. Cleveland, Brandon Dean, Teddy Gipson and Jannero Pargo. A fifth senior, Dionisio Gomez, who is playing just his third year of basketball, will get a fourth year if he graduates on time, which he is expected to do.
The Razorbacks may or may not sign anyone else.