An Added Dimension
It seems like Arkansas head basketball coach Mike Anderson sees a little bit of himself when he looks at future Razorback point guard Anton Beard.
Anderson, a former point guard for Nolan Richardson at Tulsa from 1980-82 and an assistant under him at Arkansas, was best known for his competitiveness and desire to win.
Those same things can be said about Beard (6-1, 180), the North Little Rock star who was named Thursday as the Wendy's Player of the Year in Arkansas.
"I like his toughness, he is a gym rat, has a good basketball IQ and he wants to be a Razorback.," Anderson said Wednesday at his post-season press conference He wants to be here really, really bad."
Beard is coming off a season in which he led his ultra-talented team to the 7A state title by averaging 19.8 points, 4.3 rebounds, 3.8 steals and 2.2 assists per game.
He was at his best on the big stage as evidenced by his 29-point effort in the title game - which solidified his claim to the MVP award of the state tournament.
Beard should join with Seminole, Okla., State point guard Jabril Durham (6-1, 180) – a spring commit - to man the point guard spot next season for the Razorbacks.
That spot was mostly filled this past season by junior Rashad Madden – a great scorer but with a limited ability to handle and create – and senior Fred Gulley, a great ball handler who had just 16 turnovers the entire season, but provided limited scoring.
Madden will move to the off guard next season with Beard and Durham – who averaged 21 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists per game last season – coming into the program.
"This year when we played against - people - especially zones - we didn't do a good job of getting into the gaps and attacking," Anderson said. "Creating for themselves and creating for others, I think that is going to be a big key. I think with the personnel we have here and the guys coming in it's going to give us a chance to get Ky (Madden) off the basketball.
"I thought Ky had the ball in his hands a lot and there were times he had it too much," Anderson said. " He was trying to create for himself and for others. You push him to an off guard position and I think he is a lot more effective."
Scheduled to join Beard and Durham as newcomers next season are 6-10, 250-pound Forrest City big man Trey Thompson, 6-5 Texas prep shooting guard Nick Babb (6-5, 190) and West Virginia transfer Keaton Miles (6-7, 217), who redshirted this season.
Anderson said Wednesday he is still looking to add the best player available this spring.
Al of those guys will get a chance to take advantage of Arkansas new performance center, which is set to be completed in April of 2015.
Anderson – whose program will become the last of 14 in the SEC to have a basketball practice facility - can see construction out his window at Bud Walton Arena.
"I look out my door and see the concrete being poured and that's exciting," Anderson said. " To me, that's the next stage, the next level of Razorback basketball, having a performance facility our guys can go in 24-7. We're getting those kind of guys. We're getting gym rats.
"What I mean by gym rats, we're getting guys who want to continually work on their game.," Anderson added. "When you start getting those kinds of guys and guys who talk basketball, you're on your way to having some special teams. We've got more guys who are gym rats. They'll be trying to get in to shoot with the gun (automated passing machine) or something like that.
"There's no question it's big in the recruiting phase and the guys are excited about it - the players we're recruiting and the guys here," Anderson continued.