Sam Vecenie of The Athletic said Monday morning he didn’t think Arkansas’ Mason Jones should have been the SEC’s Player of the Year. He was with Tye Richardson and Tommy Craft (The Morning Rush) on ESPN Arkansas.
USA Today’s Bryan Kalbrosky was really impressed with Razorback Mason Jones after talking with him as he told Derek Ruscin and Zach Arns on Thursday (Ruscin & Zach) on ESPN Arkansas.
It was announced Wednesday morning that Arkansas and Oklahoma would be playing for at least two years in Tulsa and Eric Musselman talked about it in Zoom conference.
Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger had a Zoom press conference with the media Wednesday afternoon talking about the series with Arkansas to be played in Tulsa and knowing Hogs’ coach Eric Musselman.
KNWA’s Kevin McPherson told Tye Richardson and Tommy Craft (The Morning Rush) on ESPN Arkansas Wednesday he thinks Mason Jones can get to NBA on path like Darryl Macon did, plus recruiting thoughts, Isaiah Joe’s possible return.
FAYETTEVILLE — Border rivals Arkansas and Oklahoma announced a multi-year, men’s basketball series to be played in consecutive years at the BOK Center in Tulsa with the first game in the series set for December 12.
Located midway between the Arkansas (116 miles) and Oklahoma (125 miles) campuses, the BOK Center offers a central location that caters to alumni and fan bases from both universities.
Tickets for the matchup will be divided at midcourt to create a unique 50-50 atmosphere for fans from each school.
“I have tremendous respect for (Oklahoma) head coach Lon Kruger and the Sooner basketball program,” said Arkansas coach Eric Musselman. “We are also appreciative of the city of Tulsa and the BOK Center. This is a great game for both programs and Tulsa is the perfect neutral-site location.
“Not only will it be exciting for the region, this is the type of game that will draw national exposure. We feel like this will be a great experience for both our student-athletes and fans, while the environment versus a premier program from one of the top power conferences will help us in SEC play and beyond.”
The second game of the series is set for Dec. 11, 2021, also in the BOK Center, with the possibility of two additional games in December of 2022 and 2023.
Ticket information and official branding for the series will be announced at a later date.
“Our series with the University of Oklahoma will bring together two storied basketball programs and two passionate fan bases from bordering states to create a compelling regional rivalry,” said Arkansas athletics director Hunter Yurachek. “This series, with games being contested at a neutral location less than two hours from our respective campuses, will positively enhance the exposure of college basketball in our region.”
The Arkansas and Oklahoma series includes 28 games dating back to the 1938-39 season. Arkansas owns a 16-12 advantage in the series, including a 5-0 record when the teams play on a neutral court. The teams have never met in Tulsa.
The last time the two squads played was Nov. 23, 2017 when the Razorbacks defeated the Sooners 92-83 in Portland, Ore., at the Phil Knight Invitational.
Prior to that, the teams played six consecutive years from 2007-08 to 2012-13, three contests in Fayetteville and three in Norman.
Preceding that series, the programs met in four consecutive seasons spanning 1998-99 to 2001-02 in home-and-home series.
While the teams’ history with one another is somewhat limited, the programs’ coaching staffs are very familiar with each other.
First, Musselman was an assistant under Kruger for two seasons with the Atlanta Hawks (2000-02).
Second, current Razorback associate coach Chris Crutchfield served on Kruger’s staff with the Sooners for eight years (2011-19) — the last three as associate head coach — prior to coming to the Razorbacks.
Arkansas basketball in Tulsa
• Arkansas has never played in Tulsa’s BOK Center.
• The last time Arkansas played in Tulsa was Nov. 30, 2003, an 81-74 victory over the Golden Hurricane at the Donald W. Reynolds Center.
• Arkansas is 9-15 all-time versus the Golden Hurricane in Tulsa.
• Arkansas is 1-2 all-time versus Oral Roberts in Tulsa.
• Arkansas faced Oklahoma State once in Tulsa (Mabee Center) on Dec. 9, 2000, a game the Cowboys won 74-73.
Information from Razorback Sports Communications is included in this story.
Many experts aren’t predicting Arkansas’ Mason Jones to be selected in the NBA Draft this summer, but ESPN analyst and former Razorback Pat Bradley thinks he will get there.
Listen to Bradley with Phil Elson and Matt Jenkins on the video above.
Mason Jones has signed with an agent — not one of the ones that let you withdraw — and is likely gone from Arkansas, but exactly where he’s headed won’t be known for a few more weeks.
Jones obviously would like a shot with an NBA team and get picked whenever they get around to having a draft (scheduled for June). It seems the mock drafts and analysts all have a different read on where he stands.
Kevin McPherson at NWAHomePage.com cited sources split on the decision. One has him going in the second round and another saying it’s a mistake for him to be leaving school.
“We’ve done all the research we can do up to this point,” Eric Musselman said last week. “I’ve talked to 23 NBA teams, supplied them the information and we support all of our guys in any of their professional aspirations. We’re behind them 100 percent in whatever decision they make. The only thing we can do is provide information through our multiple, many, many contacts that we have.”
Make what you want of that, but I’m not sure the statement would be the same if Musselman was confident Jones would be picked in the two-round draft. Just an opinion.
The deadline to withdraw and try to back-track all this for Jones is June 3, but that would now involve getting a waiver from the NCAA.
Razorback fans are awaiting word on Isaiah Joe, who is exploring his options but so far hasn’t made any direction he might be leaning clear.
Joe is rated higher in most rankings out there than Jones, but might benefit as much by coming back for another year.
B.J. Young hasn’t been keeping up with Arkansas basketball the last year as he’s been playing in Europe, but it’s something he wants to change.
He talked with Tye Richardson and Tommy Craft with The Morning Rush on ESPN Arkansas Wednesday morning about that and recapping some of his fondest memories playing for the Razorbacks.
Dusty Hannahs only got to play two seasons at Arkansas after starting his career at Texas Tech, but he’s actually a little wary of giving a golden pass for college players to start jumping around.
“There needs to be a reason,” he told Tye Richardson and Tommy Craft on ESPN Arkansas’ Morning Rush on Tuesday. “If not it’s just going to turn into the Wild West. Everybody will be leaving after every season and it’ll just be weird.”
Hannahs went to Lubbock out of Pulaski Academy in Little Rock to play for Billy Gillespie and never got to play a game for him. He was fired amidst a myriad of problems from the NCAA to drinking.
“I played my freshman year for one of our assistants, then my sophomore year was Tubby Smith,” Hannahs said. “I knew that whole year I was leaving … it just didn’t feel right.”
He had a reason. The coach he signed on to play for was gone for the season. But Hannahs thinks players need a reason.
“Sometimes stuff happens that just affects your career,” Hannahs said. “When a coach switches, yes you committed to a university but obviously as a student-athlete your primary reason for going to a school most of the time is the coach. Once you lose the coach that’s the time most people look at transferring.
“I don’t agree with players getting to transfer just because they don’t like it.”
Hannahs was also asked about a little dust-up with LSU’s Ben Simmons at Bud Walton back in 2016.
“He kept bumping me during the game,” he said. “We weren’t really talking. I only really talk if a guy starts jabbering, then it’s on … I’ll talk all day. I kept walking to set up a play and he would just put a shoulder in my chest. He wouldn’t move out of the way. After the third time I realized he was doing this on purpose.”
Then Hannahs changed his attitude.
“We get to the free-throw line and I just took it upon myself to just start talking trash. I remember him being from Australia I started saying ‘you wanna put some shrimp on the Barbie, mate?’ and some choice words after that. I can’t really say all the words I said but that was like but that was like the premise of what I said.”
Losing to eventual national champion North Carolina in the 2017 NCAA Tournament is also something that hasn’t gone away.
“I still haven’t watched the game and don’t plan on it,” Hannahs said. “I just remember being so hurt over the calls and how the game felt.”
But he’s not reviewing any film of it.
“It was a tough night for months after that,” Hannahs said. “Even after I moved back to Little Rock in the summer every time I’d think of that game it was a bad thought. I didn’t like the feeling that thought gave me so I tried to block it out.”
Now he’s playing for the Memphis Hustle, the G-league team of the Memphis Grizzlies. He’s had a couple of 10-day contracts and was drawing some interest from other teams.
“When I heard it was a gut punch,” Hannahs said. “I got the word from my agent that another team was going to give me a shot and I was really excited.”
Now he’s in the waiting game caused by the coronavirus.
Along with the rest of us.