Arkansas Duo Heads to the NBA Draft

Bobby Portis, the reigning SEC Player of the Year, and Michael Qualls are both leaving Arkansas early to test the waters of the NBA Draft. (Source: Sports Illustrated)
Bobby Portis, the reigning SEC Player of the Year, and Michael Qualls are both leaving Arkansas early to test the waters of the NBA Draft. (Source: Sports Illustrated)

The 2014-15 season saw the Arkansas Razorbacks finish in second-place in the SEC regular season standings, 5 games behind the conference-leading Kentucky Wildcats. Arkansas finished with 13 conference wins on the season, and they finished with 27 wins overall. The team advanced to the Round of 32 in the NCAA Tournament as a 5-seed, losing to the North Carolina Tar Heels.

There was a bit of optimism around the program heading into 2015-16, but people were also skeptical at the same time. With the rise of the program, and the talent that they had on their roster, it was expected that some of the players may leave early for the draft.

Over the past 48 hours, the fears of the fans became a reality.

First, reigning SEC Player of the Year Bobby Portis declared for the NBA Draft, foregoing his final two years of eligibility in the NCAA. Then, on Wednesday night, junior Michael Qualls followed suit, declaring for the 2015 NBA Draft.

Sophomore forward Bobby Portis took home SEC Player of the Year honours after an impressive season for the Razorbacks. The 6’11”, 242-pound forward averaged 17.5 points, 8.9 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks per contest in 2014-15. Portis is seen as a high-energy big man with a ton of potential. He is a strong rebounder who has the ability to score from all areas of the floor.

Portis is the type of player that NBA teams would love to have on their roster. He looks like the type of player who can be put into an NBA game right away and not seem out of place. Obviously there will be some kinks that need to be worked out, and he will need to get acclimated with the pro game, but he appears to be the type of player who can have success right away. With his size and talents, look for Portis to be a late first-round selection in the 2015 NBA Draft.

Junior guard Michael Qualls is known for getting Razorback fans all fired up with his high-flying, high-intensity dunks. The 6’6” guard averaged 15.3 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 1.7 assists per contest in 2014-15.

Qualls isn’t as big of a talent as Portis, but still has the talents to be a nice secondary scoring option for an NBA team who can also provide a much-needed energy boost with his high level of intensity. His level of play is sure to attract some looks in the mid-to-late second round of the 2015 NBA Draft.

It’s expected that part of Qualls’ decision was to support his son, Michael Qualls, Jr, and we don’t blame him one bit. Regardless of where Qualls lands, whether it be in the NBA, the D-League, or overseas, Qualls will be more than able to support his son.

Both of the now-former Razorbacks have the talents to succeed at the next level of their careers, wherever that may take them.

– T.B.