Chaney’s leap into transfer portal not unexpected

Word came Monday that Arkansas Razorback forward Reggie Chaney had entered his name in the transfer portal.

Learning the 6-8 junior from Tulsa’s plan was to leave the Razorback program wasn’t all that surprising, but it was still a little disappointing.

It’s disappointing for me as a fan when things don’t work out for a promising Razorback player, and he feels the need to leave the University of Arkansas, or he’s encouraged to do so for one reason or the other. However, in retrospect, it seems like the right thing.

At the moment, we don’t know if it was totally Chaney’s decision to leave, or if Arkansas head coach Eric Musselman played a role in the decision. We may never know, and honestly, it doesn’t really matter that much.

After two seasons, Chaney’s situation at Arkansas wasn’t playing out as he probably expected. The athletically gifted Chaney only started nine of 63 games as a Razorback and averaged just 4.8 points and 3.4 rebounds during his career with the Hogs.

I think most can agree those numbers aren’t exactly impressive, particularly for a player that shot 59 percent from the field during his career.

Chaney averaged around 16 minutes a game as a freshman in Mike Anderson’s system. His playing time dropped slightly under Musselman to around 14 minutes a game.

That’s not a lot of PT for a 6-8 guy who played for two teams that lacked size and depth in the paint.

Chaney seemed like the perfect type of forward for Anderson’s system with length, height and good speed, but something kept him from excelling as a freshman.

No doubt every Hog fan not only hoped but but also expected Chaney to blossom as a sophomore as one of the few Hogs with any height on Musselman’s first Razorback team. Musselman likes quick, athletic, and long athletes, too, but things didn’t click for Chaney last year, either.

Chaney started the season with a three-game suspension, and while he had some nice moments, his role was more as a reserve instead of key player as the Razorback team developed throughout the season.

I certainly don’t know the ins and outs of Chaney’s decision. It’s a tricky thing to make assumptions based on body language and expressions on a player’s face, but Chaney didn’t really seem enthusiastic during his time as a Razorback, under Anderson or Musselman.

That may or may not be a fair statement, but when the Razorbacks announced that 6-7, 230-pound forward Justin Smith would be transferring from Indiana to Arkansas for his senior year, Chaney’s name was the first that jumped into my head as the logical player to be exiting the program to get Arkansas’ scholarship total in check with the NCAA.

Many thought adding Smith foreshadowed Isaiah Joe’s decision to the stay in the NCAA Draft. Ultimately, Joe may decide to stay in the draft. He has until Aug. 3 or 10 days after the NBA Combine — whichever is first — to make that decision.

However, it just seemed the decision for Musselman and Co. to secure Smith as a transfer was to shore up another team need other than replacing Joe.

No. 1, there’s no way to replace a player like Joe, and No. 2, Musselman already has shooters in place on the roster. He needed some skilled size. That’s what Smith offers.

Thirdly, it just didn’t seem to be working out for Chaney on the basketball court at Arkansas. I had expected to hear about him transferring ever since the the coronavirus abruptly ended the season back in March.

In today’s game, if a player’s not a starter or doesn’t have a clearly defined role on the floor with a team that is adding talent left and right, it just makes sense for that player to begin to look and see if there is a better spot for him somewhere else.

That’s the value of the transfer portal. It gives a player like Chaney, who has talent and potential, a new opportunity to get the most out of his abilities and perhaps help another program.

It possibly helps Arkansas by allowing another player to come into the program that might be a better fit, like Smith, who has one season of eligibility left, hopefully will be.

No matter how well Smith does or does not work out at Arkansas this season, Musselman will be able to fill that scholarship the following year with either a freshman or another transfer.

That’s a better situation for Arkansas than having a player sitting on the bench whom the program has passed by.

As with all Razorback players, I wish things had worked out for Chaney at Arkansas. I wish him well wherever he lands. I just hope he selects a school that’s not on the Razorbacks’ schedule.

We certainly don’t want to see another return like former Razorback football player Ty Storey’s with Western Kentucky last year. He quarterbacked the Hilltoppers to a 45-19 rout of the Razorbacks as a graduate transfer.

As always, the numbers work themselves out. That’s what is happening with Chaney’s transfer and with Musselman’s very promising Razorback basketball program.