Happy Wendesday! Today is a day of celebration. At 7 p.m. in Bud Walton Arena, the University of Arkansas will thank its @RazorbackMBB seniors for all that they have done this season. Below is an exclusive interview with Head Coach Mike Anderson about Senior Day. Keep reading to learn about former @RazorbackWBB great Juliet Jackson, who will be honored as an SEC legend!
Q: Can you talk about the intangibles that someone like Kikko Haydar brings to your basketball program?
Coach Anderson: Kikko is an unusual young man. He’s got his priorities in line. Obviously, he loves basketball. He’s like me, I was a basketball junkie. He’s got the academic side figured out and he’s got a huge heart. Winning is important to him, he’s won everywhere he’s been. He’s been instrumental on this team because he will say the things that are unpopular with the guys, that’s what true leaders do. He leads by example, too, but he’s just been so positive with the younger guys and they look up to him. It has been an absolute privilege to have him on our basketball team. He’s a great locker room guy, one of those guys that is as instrumental in the community as in the locker room. He was named to the community service team last year and probably will be again last year. He embodies what being a Razorback is all about. He’s proud to wear the Razorback jersey and we are proud to have him.
Q: Coty Clarke came to Arkansas after two years at a junior college. How has that influenced him and added to his strength as a leader?
Coach Anderson: Coty is a grown man, he’s older than the others and has been through the wars a little bit, coming from junior college. He leads by example, always plays to exhaustion. He’s started getting more vocal and that’s what I love about him. He wants to win. Winning is a habit and you want to do everything you can to help a team win. Coty is one of those players who calms everyone around him down. He’s no nonsense and talks straight to his teammates. To see the growth in him over the past two years is not only remarkable but it makes me proud. You can see he is in a place he belongs, this team is his family. He embraces his role as the older brother, Bobby Portis, Moses Kingsley and several of the others look up to him as a very positive role model. Any time we have speaking engagements or community involvement, he’s one of the first to volunteer. He’s just a happy young man and he’s done a tremendous job in his time here. I see a lot of positive things in his future and I’m so happy he will leave here with a diploma, that’s important to him.
Q: Mardracus Wade has really found his niche within your system this season, how have you seen him grow and mature over your time here?
Coach Anderson: From the time I got here to where Mardracus is now, he’s grown and matured incredibly. Early in his career he let the little things bother him but now he doesn’t sweat the small stuff. That’s a sign of his maturity to me, he’s learned to pick the right battles. It has helped him become a much more effective player for our team and understand his role. He had to learn to adjust to my staff and style of play, which he did a great job. He has done a great job in the classroom and is graduating. That’s what is so remarkable about this senior class, they’ve been just as dedicated to the classroom as they have been to the basketball court and they’re all on target to graduate. They’re getting the total experience. Mardracus is loved in this community because he’s got that infectious smile and personality. He gets along great with the kids on camps, he’s a clown and always having fun. He’s incredibly valuable on defense and I’m looking forward to him finishing the year out strong.
Q: What has made Rickey Scott Jr. able to be so impactful in so many game situations?
Coach Anderson: Rickey is a quiet guy and I’ve been trying to pull him out of that shell since I got here. He’s got a ton of ability and his physical makeup is ideal for the way I want to play. I’ve been trying to light a fire under him and I’ve really seen it start to show this season and especially against Georgia. He has stayed strong and patient, now we’re seeing him start to play better minutes. He’s started quite a few times over his career but he didn’t let his changing role get him down. He and Wade are like brothers, they came here at the same time, they live together, they’ll graduate together. I’ve seen him grow into someone the team respects because of all the hard work he puts in.
Q: Fred Gulley III returned to Fayetteville around the time you came back. How has his steady energy and commitment been helpful down the stretch?
Coach Anderson: Fred is steady, he’s consistent in his effort defensively and I think he’s starting to play some of his best basketball this part of the year. He came in at halftime last year, started in December. It’s hard to pick up a system or style like we play and be impactful immediately. He’s playing with more confidence and people have to guard him carefully now because he’s knocking shots down. He’s getting to the line and his assist/turnover ratio is unbelievable. He’s a veteran, fifth-year guy who will graduate and make us proud. He’s a winner. I’m so glad he became a part of our team, he’s the guy I can count on to take pressure away from others on the court and can guard the best player son the court. He’s really funny, quieter around me, but big into the community because this is his community. He came back home, most guys can’t do that the way Fred was able to. He’s playing for a school he wanted to play for and in a style that is conducive to his talents. He’s playing the best basketball of his career at the right time.
Q: How important is it to be able to send this senior class off with the type of success you’ve seen this season?
Coach Anderson: As a coach, you just want to see your players grow and mature and get better. We want to send this senior class out the right way and that is as winners. It’s a challenge to my staff and this team, stay focused on the game and day-to-day process. Don’t worry about the other stuff that comes with it, postseason and what not. Ultimately you want to see them go out in style, winning and winning in a big way. It’s a special group with a lot of pieces and it is coming together at the right time. The seniors are at the heart of it, showing the younger players the way.
For more information on Senior Day, click here.
Juliet Jackson To Be Honored As SEC LegendFormer member of the University of Arkansas women’s basketball team, Juliet Jackson, has been selected as a member of the Southeastern Conference 2014 Class of Women’s Legends. She will join the @RazorbackWBB team in Duluth, Ga., and be honored at the half of Arkansas’ opening round game against Ole Miss.
Jackson was a team captain for Arkansas and played for the Razorbacks from 1987-90. In 1989 and 1990 she was named to the All-SWC second team. She was a member of the 1987 WNIT Champion team, but her biggest season was in 1990 when she helped Arkansas to a 12-1 road record and to a share of the SWC title and the NCAA West Regional. In that season, her four free throws in the last minute helped Arkansas hand No. 6 Texas its first Southwest Conference loss, snapping a 183-game coonference winning streak. In the NCAA Tournament in Athens, her 30 points against Georgia helped the Hogs get to the third round of the tournament. Jackson scored a total of 1,213 points–17th in UA career history–in her four seasons at the University of Arkansas and averaged 10.1 points per game in her career. She earned a total of 195 career steals, including a team-leading 61 takeaways during the 1987-88 season. She ranks 11th in career assists at Arkansas with 313.
Read the full release here and check out Jackson in action below.
@RazorbackFB Pro DayThe Arkansas football program’s annual Pro Day is set for today. Seniors from the 2013 team who are interested in pursuing an NFL career will perform for scouts from teams this afternoon in Walker Pavilion. For an inside look at the event, including photos and updates on performances, follow @RazorbackFB. A recap with a comprehensive results table will be posted on ArkansasRazorbacks.com following Pro Day.
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