FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — The announcement by Anthony Black he’s headed to the NBA Draft probably shouldn’t be surprising.
There had been a glimmer of hope with some social media postings and wandering thoughts that were never really going to be much more than “what-if.”
Deep down, though, it’s doubtful many folks thought the 6-7 freshman point guard would return to Arkansas.
ᴛʜᴀɴᴋ ʏᴏᴜ ᴀʀᴋᴀɴsᴀs❤️ pic.twitter.com/uGd7vwfjm4
— Anthony Black (@AnthonyBlack24_) April 12, 2023
Now we will see what Razorbacks coach Eric Musselman does putting this roster together.
Black is projected to go in the lottery of the first 14 picks, where there is a lottery of teams having chances to determine the preferred early order of picks.
If Nick Smith Jr., who declared his eligibility for the draft, is taken in that first round it would be the first time in school history they’ve had two players taken that high.
It might be even more important now with just two rounds of the draft.
Right after the announcement, Razorbacks basketball took to social media to thank Black for the big year.
— Arkansas Razorbacks Men’s Basketball ? (@RazorbackMBB) April 12, 2023
The Duncanville (Texas) native was one of three McDonald’s All-American signees on this year’s team.
H led the SEC in minutes played and finished the regular season third on the team and third among qualifying SEC freshmen in scoring at 12.8 points per game on 45.3 percent shooting from the field and a 30.1 percent clip from beyond the arc. Black led the Hogs in total assists (141) and steals (74) while stuffing the stat sheet across the board with 5.1 rebounds per game and 22 blocked shots from the point guard position.
According to HogStats, he is the only player in Arkansas basketball men’s basketball history to reach 450 points, 180 rebounds and 140 assists in a season. He set Arkansas freshman records in steals (74), steals per game (2.06), minutes (1,253), free throw attempts (190) and starts (36).
It’s going to be a big hole to fill.
The news came at roughly the same time as an anticipated announcement that Temple guard Khalif Battle committed to the Hogs.
— Khalif Battle (@khalifbattle24) April 12, 2023
Now we get to see how the rest of this shakes out after Devo Davis and Ricky Council IV also declared for the draft. Leaving through the transfer portal are Makhel Mitchell.
The volume-scorer had a four-game stretch in November where he scored more than 22 points in each contest. In late-January and early-February, he did himself one better with a five-game run of 20-plus point performances.
Battle dropped a season-high 27 points on two separate occasions against VCU and at SMU. He went for 24 points on 6-of-12 shooting with four three-pointers against Houston on Feb. 5. In total, Battle scored over 20 points in 13 games on the season.
For Razorback fans clamoring for more perimeter shooting, Battle made multiple three-pointers in 24 of 27 games for the Owls last season. He connected on four or more triples eight times, including a season-high six threes on 11 attempts against Richmond on Nov. 22. Volume and accuracy are both present in his game.