Coaching All-Star Game Dream Come True

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My basketball coaching record is perfect, and I don’t expect that to change Saturday. After a 22-year hiatus, I’m “coaching” the South Men’s College All-Stars in the Arkansas College Basketball All-Star Game at Summit Arena in Hot Springs. Joining me on the bench is legendary University of Arkansas sharp-shooting guard Al Dillard, who 20 years ago helped the Razorbacks win the National Championship.
I’m confident our group of players from the smaller schools in the state will run past the North, comprised mainly of Arkansas and Arkansas State players, and coached by Northwest Arkansas radio personality Ched “The Ugly Uncle” Carpenter and Dillard’s former teammate, Clint McDaniel. The South is the obvious underdog, but more on that in a moment.
In the spring of 1992, my then-14-year-old brother informed me the older brother of one his teammates ditched the traveling team he played on. A tournament approached, and they needed a coach. I gladly chipped in, and guided my brother’s team to the tournament championship. It was a combination of a wide-open, freelance offense I emphasized combined with their ability to hit shots. A press, we ran on the varsity squad, also worked well.
Not a bad coaching debut, … Read more >

Dykes hire makes sense no matter what critics say

Photo by Samantha Baker/NWA Media
Arkansas announced former ESPN college basketball analyst Jimmy Dykes as its women’s basketball coach Sunday night.

More people discussed University of Arkansas women’s basketball on social media and on-air Sunday morning than the past two decades — combined. That was the idea (well, part of it) in hiring former ESPN college basketball analyst Jimmy Dykes as the new UA coach.
UA athletic director Jeff Long caught everyone off guard with the curveball, including several fans, who asked on social media if the announcement was an early April Fool’s Day gag. I talked to one national media member who covers women’s basketball daily that admitted he was stunned by the revelation (He was also very impressed). He has been tracking the story since Long fired former coach Tom Collen after the SEC Tournament last month. Not everyone was as blown away by the move and how Dykes crushed the press conference, which is so important in college athletics.
For more than 24 hours, I’ve seen the social media posts by fans and media questioning the decision. Questioning Dykes’ inexperience coaching women’s basketball. Questioning his more than 20-year hiatus from assistant men’s coaching. Questioning the hiring over “real” coaches with strong head-coaching resumes like Joe Foley at UALR and Mike Neighbors, a former UA assistant and Arkansas native, … Read more >

Arkansas All-Star Weekend Debuts April 4 and 5 in Hot Springs

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A new college basketball event debuts next weekend (Friday April 4 and Saturday April 5) in Hot Springs at Summit Arena.
The Arkansas Alumni Classic presents Arkansas All-Star Weekend. The event is the brainchild of AAC’s Byron Jenkins, of Springdale, and partner Travoris Akins of LIttle Rock. AAC has promoted high school football game doubleheaders and high school basketball tournaments in Little Rock in the past, but this is the group’s first event showcasing former college athletes.1236084_4093996844928_1186955938_n
The event features an All-Star game pitting  the state’s Top 20 men’s and women’s college senior players against each other. Fans voted during the season to determine the top players and competitors in the exhibition. While not all of the men’s and women’s players have confirmed —all but one of the  University of Arkansas’ five seniors are currently committed. Word on Kikko Haydar should come next week.
The women play on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. at Summit Arena followed by the men’s game at 5:30 and a legend’s game at 7:30. A pregame autograph session is planned from 1 to 3 p.m.
The legends game is a mix of former college football and basketball players, including Razorbacks basketball players Al Dillard, Todd Day, … Read more >

Walton’s Commentary Salt in Razorbacks Fans’ Wound

Bill Walton was wacky during Arkansas/Cal NIT game late Monday night.

What’s worse than watching Arkansas getting hammered in an NIT game with a 10:15 p.m. tip? Listening to Bill Walton’s color commentary of said game.
Arkansas was in its atrocious

road form, losing to California 75-64 in a game that ended early Tuesday morning. As bad as the Hogs were, Walton was worse. From the opening tip, the former UCLA star seemed like he’d rather talk about anything but basketball. He referenced javelinas twice, cuddly lap dogs, hiking in Utah, lunch spots in Berkeley and the list goes on and on and on.
When UA forward Alandise Harris inadvertently caught Cal big man David Kravish with a foot to the groin on a dunk, Walton asked broadcast partner Roxy Bernstein, “What is Kravish’s girlfriend’s name again?” (Bernstein had referenced her earlier).
During his “Walton’s World” segment, the former NBA All-Star highlighted different UA figures, but for some reason included former NBA great Scottie Pippen, who played at Central Arkansas and not UA. Walton did point that out but included the NBA Hall of Famer anyway, even though Hogs legend Corliss Williamson was in Haas Pavilion watching the game. A “Big Nasty” mention may have been more appropriate than Pippen. Later … Read more >

Neighbour Stayed Faithful to UALR Despite Tempting Offers

Photo by Arshia Khan
Will Neighbour nearly went to Florida after committing to UALR out of high school.

UALR senior forward Will Neighbour is a man of his word. Just ask Trojans assistant Ed Cunningham.
The 6-foot-10 senior forward had two different chances to back out of his commitment to UALR, but he stood fast.
“I thought about (changing

the commitment), but it was mainly just staying loyal to Coach Cunningham,” the 6-foot-10 Neighbour says. “It was tough sometimes.”
Neighbour grew up in rural England and became infatuated with basketball after playing soccer, tennis and cricket. He joined the Southampton Solent Kestrels club team and it changed his life. Kestrels coach Jimmie Guymon, an NBA and ABA draft pick, helped Neighbour develop his skills and after he grew to 6-foot-7 at age 16, Guymon knew he was ready for a higher level of basketball in the Untied States.
Guymon had sent English players to U.S. colleges before and knew of Cunningham. Cunningham showed interest and after Neighbour enrolled at Central Park Christian School in Birmingham, Ala.  and  committed to UALR.
After scoring 21 points per game at Central Park other college programs showed interest, including the Alabama-Birmingham, Alabama, Providence and Davidson.
Neighbour honored his commitment but had to attend Daytona (Fla.) State College because his English transcripts didn’t … Read more >