With another basketball postseason over and three quality seniors on their way out, the Razorbacks hope to keep their momentum going as another recruiting class will be joining the roster this summer.
Daniel Gafford, Khalil Garland and Darious Hall are all top-four players in the state of Arkansas, and will all be making their way to Fayetteville after high school graduation.
“They (Gafford, Garland and Hall) got motors, they fit (the program) when you talk defensively,” head coach Mike Anderson said during a press conference. “I’m really excited about all three of these guys.”
Daniel Gafford, 6-9, Power Forward, El Dorado High School
Gafford is ranked as the No. 1 player in the state and the No. 9 power forward in the nation, according to the Arkansas athletic department. Gafford is also rated as a four-star recruit by five major recruiting websites. Gafford has participated in the Nike Elite 100 camp, the Nike Peach Invite and was invited to the prestigious Nike Basketball Academy last July, one of only 60 high school players to do so.
Gafford recorded an impressive double-double his senior season, averaging 17 points and 16 rebounds a game, while also recording an amazing 7.7 blocks per game, leading the state in the last two categories. Gafford also has the second most triple-doubles in the entire country, with 11.
“He is a shot-blocking machine, a rebounder extraordinaire,” Anderson said. “This guy here (Gafford), he has no fear, he won’t back down from anyone.”
Gafford resembles former Hog and current Chicago Bull Bobby Portis, both in size and as a player who carries both a defensive and offensive game, and can run the floor. He has a very aggressive style, while still not giving up athleticism or agility in his game.
“Daniel is rising each and every year,” Anderson said. “He’s one of the better big guys, I think, in the country.”
Khalil Garland, 6-6, Shooting Guard, Parkview High School
Garland is ranked as the No. 2 player in the state and the No. 28 shooting guard in the nation. He decommitted from Memphis last year to join the Hogs. During his senior season, Garland averaged 13 points, four rebounds, two assists and two steals. Garland has made two consecutive state championship games with the Parkview Patriots, winning the first in 2016.
“He’s a tremendous slasher, he can really attack the baseline,” Anderson said
Garland is a great all-around player, with an emphasis on passing abilities and a natural ability to get to the hoop. He is also an above-average defender, something the Razorbacks emphasize, and if he continues to grow, can be a great replacement to senior Manny Watkins.
“I think Khalil is one of those guys that, defensively, is gonna be really good at what we do,” Anderson said.
Darious Hall, 6-6, Small Forward, Mills High School
Hall rounds up the recruits as the No. 4 player in the state and the No. 54 power forward in the nation. Hall racked up 15 points per game in his senior season, including 24 points in the Arkansas 5A State Championship game this year, which helped Mills High School win the title against Garland’s Parkview Pirates and gave him the Most Outstanding Player award. He’s also a great defender, recording 8 rebounds and 2 steals per game.
“He’s very athletic, he has shot the ball well, and made some threes,” Anderson said. “The thing I like most about him is his tenacity on defense.”
Hall has a seven-foot wingspan and is a very strong player, so much so that he’s brought down multiple basketball goals in his career. He is also an excellent dunker, reminiscent of former Hog Michael Qualls.
However, besides strength, he is also a leader on the floor, even without being a point guard.
“I can push everybody to go hard and give it all they got,” Hall told KLRT in Little Rock earlier this year.
Anderson said he plans to add a fourth player to the mix of recruits before next season.
“We’re really trying to see if we can find that right person to come in and go along with the group that we have.” Anderson said.
Arkansas’ 2017 recruiting class is currently No. 30 in the nation, according to 247. This is regarded as one of the best classes the Hogs have seen in recent years, and with the previous season ending as one of the best regular season-wise, Hog fans should be excited for tipoff come next fall.