FAYETTEVILLE -- As an assistant under Nolan Richardson for 17 seasons with the Arkansas Razorbacks, Mike Anderson saw junior college transfers Robert Shepherd, Jannero Pargo and Butch Morris improve considerably in their second seasons with the Hogs, and Lenzie Howell went from very good to great as a senior in 1990 when Arkansas reached the Final Four.
As Arkansas' head coach, Anderson has seen junior college transfers Coty Clarke, Jabril Durham and others improve significantly in their second seasons as Razorbacks, too.
This season, senior guards Jaylen Barford and Daryl Macon look to cross the threshold from good to great in their second seasons as Razorbacks after transferring in from junior colleges. Arkansas (10-2) opens SEC play at noon today against No. 19 Tennessee (9-2) at Bud Walton Arena in a game televised on the SEC Network.
Barford has improved his offense this season, going from 14.2 points per game last year to 18.6 this season while ranking in the top five in the SEC in scoring, field goal percentage and 3-point shooting. He's also seen his rebounding and assists improve.
Macon, who is averaging 15.3 points per game after mustering 13.9 last season, improved his assists from 2.7 per game last year to 4.2 so far this season. Playing error free in Arkansas' last three games, Macon has dished out 17 assists since his last turnover four games ago when he had eight assists and two turnovers against Minnesota.
The second-season improvement of junior college transfers doesn't surprise Anderson. He experienced it firsthand when he played point guard at Tulsa for Richardson after transferring from Jefferson State (Ala.) Community College, where starred against Richardson's national champion Western Texas Junior College squad.
"I think the first year coming in you're making adjustments," Anderson said. "You're coming from where you played two years and you're used to being that guy. The man. Now you're playing with guys just as good as you are and you're trying to find your role."
And yearning for your role be found.
"You're trying to get the coach's attention," Anderson said. "A lot of guys think they can get their coach's attention through offense and it's probably the opposite. It's your defense and creating not only for yourself but for others, playing the game the right way. The second year you've got a true understanding."
While always appreciating the points they score, Anderson lavishes some of his biggest praise on Barford and Macon when they weren't hitting their shots yet played winning basketball defensively and as passers, ball-handlers and screeners.
"A lot of times guys that are gifted scorers it's about getting their numbers, getting their stats," Anderson said.
Sometimes, individually aiming for numbers doesn't add up for the team.
"Guys get a better understanding of the whole picture as opposed to just looking at what I do," Anderson said. "How can I impact the team when I'm not scoring? They had success last year but how do you elevate that? You work on your game. They've put some time in and I think it's paying off for them."
HAPPY NEW YEAR
As this column now comes to a close, I end it sincerely wishing its readers the happiest New Year.
Sports on 12/30/2017
Print Headline: UA transfers continue to thrive in second seasons