A few days ago, it was announced that Jason Henry would not be returning to the Hogs for the upcoming basketball season. This wasn’t a surprise to most as it didn’t seem that Henry was fitting in well with the program as evidenced by his non-attendance at last March’s SEC tournament. As an isolated incident, Henry’s departure would be nothing to worry about, but since Henry now marks the 4th player John Pelphrey signed that has since left the program, concerns about what is causing recruits to leave is beginning to build.
One of the departed Pelphrey recruits, Brandon Moore, spoke to KNWA’s Pat Downey concerning the issue and said, “It’s really a mental thing, you just have to be ready. I guess it wasn’t what a lot of people thought it would be. The coaches, it’s their job, it’s what they have to do. Everybody is trying to keep their job”.
From his statement, it seems that Moore believes our players are leaving because they weren’t fully prepared for what they got when they came to Arkansas. Personally, I find this hard to believe. All I know of Pelphrey’s demeaner and personality is what I have seen in the public sphere, and that has always been a guy that was straightforward and honest. Granted, I know nothing about how he acts in private, but from an outsider’s perspective, it seems unlikely that he would mislead or misrepresent the Arkansas basketball program in any way. As a result, it seems that incoming players would have been given an idea of what their lives were going to be like as a Razorback basketball player, leaving the responsibility of mental preparation to the players.
At the same time, maybe Pelphrey and his staff as a whole did a poor job in communicating to recruits what was going to be expected of them. It could be that there were mixed messages resulting from the staff not all being on the same page. I can’t say for sure.
Based only on speculation it’s hard to really take a side (or assess blame) when it comes to these departures. Maybe the recruits left because they didn’t like Fayetteville, or because they missed their families, or because of academic reasons (to me this seems to have something to do with Henry’s case), or maybe they just got tired of basketball. I honestly have no idea.
What I do know, however, is that if players are not a good fit, or they don’t want to play for the Razorbacks then they don’t need to be here. I can live with that. I am just concerned with what these departures could be communicating to future recruits. The last thing we need is to come off as a program that is either not completely forthcoming about what the expectations are as a Razorback, or as a program that doesn’t know how to properly handle its student athletes, or any number of other things these vague dismissals could lead people to believe.
Honestly, I am not sure what is going on with the team, or who is to blame (if anyone is to blame). So, for anyone out there with more insight to what is going on, don’t hesitate to chime in.
I just hope we have seen the last of these dismissals, and that the Hogs will be better off because of them.
Trip Jones is a guest contributor for the Fayetteville Flyer. He is a graduate student in the Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas. For more of Trip’s contributions, visit his author page.