Only List of Arkansan National Team Basketball Players & Coaches Known to Man

It's a good feeling - that feeling of not being alone.

The feeling of not being alone is a good one.

As you know, Hamburg native Scottie Pippen made the original Dream Team in 1992 and the 1996 Olympic team which grabbed Gold in Atlanta. Pippen made by far the greatest splash of any national team Arkansan, but he wasn’t the first to do so in an Olympics. That honor goes to Gordon Carpenter, native of Ash Flat in northeast Arkansas. And there are plenty others who have made national teams for other competitions. Below, I present the first (and I will bet you $25 only) comprehensive list anybody has ever bothered to assemble on the topic:

 

1. Gordon Carpenter

Carpenter, a 6’6″, 200-pound big affectionately known as “Shorty,” was one of Arkansas’ first great basketball players. He led Ash Flat in northeast Arkansas to the 1939, upsetting much bigger teams in Little Rock and Pine Bluff,  and then went on to star on the University of Arkansas’ first Final Four team in 1941. He led the Hogs to their first undefeated SWC record and ended his college career on the All-SWC team.

He then played for the Phillips 66 powerhouse basketball team, which was technically amateur and allowed him to retain eligibility for international play (the Olympics were then off-limits to paid professional athletes). The Phillips 66 team was on par with the best professional teams of the era, and Carpenter helped lead them to six straight national titles. He made the AAU All-America team each year from 1943-1947 and helped his team qualify to represent the U.S. in the 1948 Olympics by beating the University of Kentucky in a Madison Square Garden (weird, I know).

In those London Olympics, Carpenter had a turn as hero, according to this bookIn a game against Argentina, the U.S. was trailing by six points with four minutes to go. Coach then inserted Carpenter and he scored 10 points in two minutes to help the Americans turn the tide and win. The final score of the game was 59-57, according to linguasport.com.

Two years later, Carpenter became head coach of the national team at the first basketball World Championship (now called the basketball World Cup) in 1950. The host nation, Argentina, took Gold and the U.S. took Silver.

165px-AAU_All-Americans_Gruenig_McNatt_Carpenter

Gordon “Shorty” Carpenter (R) Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jimmy_McNatt

 

2. Jim “Bad News” Barnes

A native of Tuckerman in Sharp Co., the 6’8″, 240-pound Barnes trumps Corliss Williamson, Andrew Lang (and so far Bobby Portis) as the most dominant collegian big man the state has produced. He was dirt poor as a child, often playing in socks because his family couldn’t afford shoes. Around 18 years of age, he moved to Oklahoma to finish high school. Barnes then dominated junior college competition for two years, and then did the same at Texas Western. He averaged 29 points and 19 rebounds his senior year, and a few months later became the first of two Arkansans ever drafted #1 overall in an NBA or NFL draft.

Before his pro career, though, Barnes traveled to Tokyo with other top collegians like Larry Brown and Bill Bradley. He was the fifth-leading scorer on the Gold-winning team. In the Finals, the U.S. squared off against the U.S.S.R.  Barnes’ speed and agility, like center Bill Russell’s four years before, was a big reason the Soviets could not hang with the Americans.

That team’s head coach was Henry Iba, who happened to the mentor of Barnes’ college coach Don Haskins. Coincidentally, Haskins became the mentor to Nolan Richardson, one of Barnes’ Texas Western teammates. Richardson thought highly of Barnes’ character: “Jim was one of those men who was thrilled to play for their country. He took the opportunity seriously and played every possession hard.”

 

3, Sidney Moncrief

When it comes to  Moncrief and Larry Bird sharing the same court, the headliner will forever be their legendary showdown in the Elite Eight of the 1979 NCAA Tournament. Before these two All-Americans clashed in front of a national audience, though, they had two summers before joined forces to topple other countries.

In 1977, the Little Rock native represented the U.S. in the World University Games (similar to what would be a U-21 competition today). Moncrief helped the U.S. tear through the event, in Bulgaria, with an 8-0 record. He led the Americans with 16 points in the finals against the U.S.S.R.

Undoubtedly, Sid shot the ball at a high clip that tourney. It’s amazing to think that as a freshman, the 6’4″ forward led the entire nation in field goal percentage, as this July 26, 1977 article  points out:


Click here for a larger image.

NB: You’ll notice one of the assistant coaches was none other than Bill Vining of Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia. The national team program wanted coaches from all levels of college basketball, and Vining, being the small college level bad-ass he was, was selected to rep that segment.

 

4. Marvin Delph

Another one of Arkansas’ famed Triplets, Delph was a part of a wonky 1978 World Championship team made up of neither college or professional players. College players should have filled out its roster but by October – when the event occurred – they were already in preseason and prohibited from competing.

So the U.S. sent a squad made up mostly of Athletes In Action (a religious organization) ballers, and finished 6-4. This isn’t all that bad considering many of the communist national teams were made up of essentially professional players who had state-provided sinecure jobs.

Delph, a Conway native, averaged only 5.5. points in the six games he played. But hey, the U.S. was 5-1 in those games (losing only to the U.S.S.R.), so that’s something.

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Projecting Draft Potential of Bobby Portis – the UA’s 6th All-SEC Freshman

Is Portis underrated by NBA draftniks?

Is Portis underrated by NBA draftniks? Courtesy: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Arkansas freshman big man Bobby Portis earned a pair of SEC postseason honors on Tuesday, as the Little Rock native was named to the All-SEC second team and the SEC All-Freshman team..

According to the UA sports information department, the Hogs have landed 15 players on the SEC All-Freshman team while Portis is just the sixth freshman in program history to earn All-SEC honors. During his standout rookie campaign, Portis also collected three SEC Player of the Week accolades, which equaled the record previously set by current Houston Rocket Patrick Beverley in 2007.

One of Portis’ weekly honors came on the heels of breaking the Arkansas freshman scoring record with 35 points against Alabama on Feb. 5 at Bud Walton Arena, dethroning current Director of Student-Athlete Development Scotty Thurman. The 35-point night was the most by a Razorback since 2002, and the third-most points scored by an SEC player this season. Portis accounted for 29 of the team’s first 35 points, while also adding nine rebounds and a season-best six blocks.

Portis enters the SEC Tournament averaging 12.4 points and 6.6 rebounds, ranking second and first on the team, respectively. The 6-foot-10 forward has reached double figures in 20 games with a team-best three doubles and is the only Razorback to start all 31 games. Portis ranks 10th in the SEC in rebounding and tied for fifth in blocks (1.6), while also showcasing his all-round skill with 46 assists and 35 steals.

The first Arkansas signee since 2004, and the 13th overall, to play in the McDonald’s All-American game, Portis has lived up to the hype and has a chance to become the first freshman in program history to lead the team in scoring and rebounding in the same season. Portis also needs just 12 rebounds to break the freshman record of 211 set by Marshawn Powell in 2010.

Fifth-seeded Arkansas (21-10) will begin play at the SEC Tournament on Thursday, taking on the winner of Auburn/South Carolina in a 2:30 p.m. CT game on SEC TV. The Razorbacks earned a first round bye and head to Atlanta with wins in eight of their last 10 games.

So when and where will Portis end up going in the NBA Draft?

NBA Draft Express has him at #19 in the 2015 Draft, one behind Kentucky’s Dakari Johnson. Curiously, NBA Draftnet doesn’t have him listed at all. But at least one member of the drafterati – Dean Demakis – in February made a strong case for Portis one day being worth high first round consideration. Especially when compared to SEC Freshman of the Year Julius Randle, an apparently surefire Top 10 pick this year.

They are both skilled 5 star freshman PF’s who play in the SEC.  Their tools are not far apart, as Portis has more length (7’1.5″ vs 6’11″ wingspan), Randle has more strength, and their athleticism and mobility appear to be similar (although perhaps Randle’s spryness would stand out if he trimmed down).  Their offensive ratings adjusted for SOS and usage is close with Randle having a slim 1.8 point advantage.   In a world that interprets draft related information with reasonable efficiency, a Portis vs. Randle debate would be raging right now….

Portis has superior defensive awareness and his length enables him to make more plays.  I believe he clearly projects to be better on this end in spite of inferior rebounding.  Offensively, Randle is a superior offensive rebounder and gets to the line far more, but Portis has a considerably lower turnover rate.  


The Arkansas Activities Association Should Integrate Its Record Book

5a boys

Hall’s Evan James, center, is surrounded by teammates after making a last second basket to beat Jonesboro 32-31 in the 6A boys high school championship. It was the fourth straight title for LR Hall, a feat only accomplished by two other programs – Scipio Jones and LR Central. Courtesy: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

In the scope of world history, high school sports isn’t all that significant.

You could study a 1,001 more subjects which have more of an effect on our everyday lives. My wife, who works as a pediatrician, deals with more life and death matters in the course of half of a minute than I will in a lifetime of work.

So there may only be a handful of people who care that a large part of Arkansas’ high school history is kept in the dark almost every time a major record is set.

Last year, I discussed this issue in the context of career scoring records set in basketball. The essential issue was that the Arkansas Activities Association only recognizes records that were set by the white student-athletes – but not black student-athletes – who played before integration.

Before the school integration that swept through the state in the late 1960s, there were two state athletic associations – one for whites, the other for blacks. Black students ultimately joined the white students in what had been the white students’ schools, leaving the black schools – typically in worse shape – behind. The same happened with the athletic associations. If the black athletic association kept its own records (it is unclear that such records were ever kept and if they still exist), then they have long been lost.

All that remain, officially, are the records that were kept in by what had been the all-white Arkansas Athletics Association.

This became most evident on Saturday, when Little Rock Hall High won its fourth consecutive state basketball title. This is a very rare Read the rest of this entry »


Exclusive Q&A w/ Bobby Portis, Arkansas’ Best Big Man Since Corliss

Bobby Portis learned the art of rebounding from Corliss Williamson. Courtesy: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Bobby Portis learned the art of rebounding from Corliss Williamson. Courtesy: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette


Big man Bobby Portis is new school. He shoots threes, leads fast breaks and has a shoe collection as diverse as his game. Off the court, he rocks the same nerd-chic glasses and bow tie swag Kevin Durant has helped popularize in the NBA.

But when Portis takes his game to Fayetteville next season, it’s the promise of returning Arkansas to old school glory that most excites Hogs fans. Portis, after all, is the state’s best big man since his former coach Corliss Williamson. He’s already followed Williamson’s lead by leading the Arkansas Wings to an AAU national championship. The 6-10 senior center may also be the most dominant player from Little Rock Hall High since Sidney Moncrief, another Razorback All-American.

Portis, we find out, fully embraces the legacy of all his schools – past, present and future:

Q: Let’s get this out of the way first. You’ve been known to wear some crazy, neon-colored shoes on the court. How many do you have and why do you wear them?

A: I have Nike shoes in the neon pink, orange, blue, red and green.
It’s just a different style. I like to wear different types of colored shoes, you know. It’s nothing serious. My mom sees the shoes, so she buys them.

Q: Who is most responsible for helping you develop as a post player?

A: When I was little, it was Corliss Williamson. He taught me a lot. But then he moved on to coach UCA and couldn’t coach us [in AAU] anymore. Then I started working out with Marcus McCarroll. He’s in athletic trainer here in Little Rock, and he’s also a part of the Wings.  He really helped improve my post game.

Read the rest of this entry »


Bobby Portis Discusses How He Could Have Helped Arkansas Against Syracuse

bobby portisCourtesy Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Last night I had a good interview with Razorback signee Bobby Portis, whom ESPN has ranked the nation’s 12th best senior. The 6-10 Portis plays for Little Rock Hall High, and a glance down his Twitter feed shows there are plenty Razorback fans who likely wish he’d skip his senior season altogether and join Arkansas for SEC play (a la Jarnell Stokes at Tennesse last season).

This won’t happen, but it’s fun to imagine.

Portis himself can’t help imagining how he could help this year’s batch of Hogs as he cheers them on. Last Friday night, he watched the Hogs fall 91-82 to No. 6 – ranked Syracuse and said he thought he could have used his size and quickness to neutralize the rangy, long athletes who comprise Syracuse’s famed zone defense:

Syracuse’s zone was just killing us. I think I could have flashed to the high post and knocked a couple jumpers down to make [the defenders] come up and then that would have opened up driving lanes for B.J. [Young] and Ky [Madden]  to drive to the hole and stuff like that.”

It’s hard to argue Portis could contribute right away. Last summer, he took an unofficial visit to the Fayetteville campus and scrimmaged on a team including Kikko Haydar, Rickey Scott, Michael Qualls and Anthlon Bell. That team played against teams composed of other Hogs excluding Marshawn Powell,  who was recovering from injury. Portis recalls his team going 5-0.

A more detailed Q&A with Portis will publish in the Dec. 19th issue of Sync magazine


Clash of the Titans: A Jacksonville and Hall video grab bag

UPDATE:

Hall won 47-43, after not leading until 1:15 into the third quarter. Aaron Walton, little brother to Baylor point guard A.J. Walton, scored 11 of 13 points in the second half. If the score wasn’t enough of an indication, the stats back it up: defenses dominated this game. Neither shot more than 40% FG, and they combined for 3-of-16 on 3-pointers.

Read more at ARPreps.com.

Every week, it seems Little Rock Hall High is one half of the equation in the latest game of the week.

That’s what happens when the last time you lost was December 6th. Since that loss against North Little Rock, though, Hall has not played a hotter team in a more hostile environment than Jacksonville. True, the Warriors already beat the Red Devils by 13 points, but don’t let silly Maxpreps fool ya’ – that Jan. 5 game was very much in Little Rock. Since that loss, Jacksonville has been on a tear all its own – walloping the likes of Parkview, Jonesboro and West Memphis. Get a preview of this game and others at the latest ARPreps.com prepscast.

In the last few weeks, Hall has become the favorite in these CenArk Top-5 clashes as it surges to the top of the 7A/6A East. But tonight in Lonoke County, Jacksonville has its best shot at stealing momentum from the defending champs.

Here are some clips to get you ready:

Physically, nobody in state can deal with Bobby Portis. But can the Red Devils’ home court crazies unnerve Hall’s star center?

It should be fun watching Jacksonville’s Justin McCleary match up with Hall perimeter players such as Dauda Berete:

Let’s not forget about the girls game, which also promises to be an intense match up with plenty of talent on the floor:


Hurricane A-comin': Parkview clashes with Jonesboro in Game of the Week

Powerhouse Parkview suffered a two-game hiccup, but seems to be back on track after barbecuing Searcy. Can Rod Pugh (#12) and the Hurricane derail the defending champs, handing coach Al Flanigan (right) an unheard-of three losses in four games?

It’s the end of week 2 of conference season, and time again to serve up some Friday previews for big 6A and 7A games featuring central Arkansas teams.

Parkview (14-2, 2-2) @ Jonesboro (15-2, 3-1)

On Tuesday, Parkview beat Searcy 73-24 while  Jonesboro lost to Jacksonville 68-41. Check out video highlights from that Parkview win here. Go to the video section on the page’s right side, scroll to the bottom and click “View Next 4 Clips”

Both teams are strongest at the guard positions – for Parkview, Anton Beard and I.J. Ready. For Jonesboro, watch out for sophomore dynamo Kahron Ross and Randle Tolliver. Throw some sweet-shooting Jacob Gibson in there, too. (n.b. Ready and Ross were Arkansas Hawks teammates last summer)

Listen to the game here, ye central Arkansas folk who’d rather not make the drive.

And although you’re listening, you can kind of  imagine you’re watching TV if you slowly scroll through the pics on this Facebook page.

Want more on this matchup and others from Friday? ARPreps.com’s David Harten, Tim Cooper ( the Democrat-Gazette’s bball guru) and I talk our noggins off in our latest weekly prepscast.

Catholic (1-3, 2-7) @ Russellville (13-4, 4-0) 

Russellville beat Van Buren 58-31. Cyclone Grey Harris, who would be making a run at early-season state MVP is such existed, scored 18 points. Catholic, meanwhile, lost to North Little Rock 67-51.

Catch the game at KCJC 102.3 FM or online at http://www.kcjclive.com.

If you think the above game was low-scoring, then you need to see my new …

!!?!!?? of the Week

28-24.

I repeat: 28-24. That’s the score I saw in the Dem-Gaz for the Rogers’ boys Tuesday night victory over Fort Smith Northside.

Granted, upon check-up, the  actual score  might have been slightly higher.

Either way, I’m voting this half-court sludgefest of a game reason #73 I will always prefer central Arkansas ball to what’s going down in the NWA:

Searcy (6-11, 1-3) @ Hall (13-3, 4-0)

Hall beat West Memphis 52-47 on the road, while Searcy lost by 49 points to Parkview.

“We came out very flat,” its coach  told The Daily Citizen. “Also, Parkview came out to prove a point because they had lost two in a row, and they shot well. That’s a bad combination.

“It was already a 16-point game at the half. They kept pressing. The coach could have pulled off  the press, but he didn’t. It was a statement game for them. They’re the best in the state, and they wanted to prove it.”

Cam Woodruff, a junior on the team, said the Lions were not prepared for the Parkview game. “They came out and put it on us,” he said. “We weren’t prepared mentally.”

Hall’s Hog commit Bobby Portis was featured in this KATV video this week. In his past two games, the junior center has shot 9 of 20 on FGs, 1 of 4 on 3s  and 10 of 13 on FTs for 29 points. He’s also totaled 28 rebounds, seven blocks, six turnovers two steals and three assists.

Read the rest of this entry »


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