Menu

Basketball

Harris leading new-look frontcourt as Arkansas aims to return to NCAA tournament

Alandise Harris spent much of last season at Arkansas showing off his sense of fashion as he sat out the year following his transfer from Houston.

The 6-foot-6 forward will finally have the chance to show what he can do on the court this season for the Razorbacks, who are aiming to return to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2008.

Arkansas was 19-13 last season, but it was wildly skewed: 18-1 at home, one lonely win on the road.

Third-year Razorbacks coach Mike Anderson is counting on improvement on the road this season, thanks in large part to a new-look frontcourt that includes Harris and a pair of 6-foot-9 freshmen: forward Bobby Portis and center Moses Kingsley.

"I feel like we've got more guys that fit what we're doing," Anderson said. "To me, it's showing off the floor. I can sense the coming together of guys and guys trusting one another now. To me, that bodes well."

Portis, with the ability to play inside and out, was one of the most sought-after high school recruits in the country last season. The Little Rock native is expected to step in as one of Arkansas' top performers early this season, especially as the school looks to replace its two leading scorers — BJ Young and Marshawn Powell — from last season.

Just don't expect Anderson to put that kind of pressure on his prized recruit, who was the first player he visited after being hired away from Missouri by the Razorbacks.

"Bobby doesn't have to have that pressure where he's got to (perform), but I think you're going to be pleasantly surprised with what this guy brings to the table," Anderson said. "He's got a motor; his skill level is very exceptional. ... If you talk or listen to Bobby, he wants to be one of the best in the country."

While Portis' arrival has led to renewed optimism at Arkansas, it's Harris who will take the court this season as an established performer.

Also a Little Rock native, Harris signed with Houston out of high school and averaged 13.3 points and 6.4 rebounds per game as a sophomore two seasons ago. The power forward grew up a fan of the Razorbacks, and after family reasons dictated a move closer to home, he sat out last season after the NCAA denied his request for a transfer waiver.

Rather than sulk about his year way from game action, Harris practiced with his new teammates.

The junior also found an outlet for his free time during games on the bench in the form of an assortment of colorful bow ties and matching apparel.

"I knew it was an option that I wouldn't be able to play last year," Harris said. "Instead of feeling some type of way, I just made a thing about it and just decided I was going to stand out in some type of way and wear a different type of bow tie every game."

Harris' fashion sense will take a backseat to his contribution on the court this season, one in which he hopes to lead Arkansas back to the postseason.

Harris was 3 when Arkansas won its only national championship in 1994, a team on which Anderson was an assistant coach under then-coach Nolan Richardson. Portis, meanwhile, had yet to be born. That hasn't stopped either from a desire to return the Razorbacks to what they once were.

"I just thought that me being the player that I am, I could just come in and try to play my role," Portis said. "And try to help this team and try to take us back to the top."