With the college basketball season nearing its end, two Arkansas Razorback seniors have a few games left together. It's been a long road together for the two, who played together even before college.
I'm talking about guards Kikko Haydar and Fred Gulley, both from my alma mater of Fayetteville High School. After growing up and playing ball with these guys in my younger days, it's special to see them come full circle in their careers and finish it off together for the Razorbacks. I'm not the only one to feel that way, though.
Gulley has known head coach Mike Anderson since he was around 8 years old.
Haydar on the other hand, is the perfect, 4.0 student, and both of his parents are professors in the Arabic Department at the U of A. Anderson said the two players have handled the pressure of being the hometown Hogs well.
"These guys have been tremendous Razorbacks," Anderson said. "They've made I'm sure not only our state proud, but the community proud, and the high school and junior high proud. You think about all the people that have impacted their lives, and to have that opportunity to do it, at the high level of the SEC, that's special. Those kids are special."
Haydar and Gulley were a part of the undefeated 2009 FHS 7A State Championship team, which went 30-0.
Gulley committed to Oklahoma State during his junior season the year before, and he spent three seasons in Stillwater before transferring back to his hometown to play for the Razorbacks.
Even though Haydar ended up walking on at Arkansas, the two kept in touch, and they eventually wound up on the same team together again.
When Gulley left Oklahoma State for Arkansas, Haydar was the one who helped him adjust to playing with the Razorbacks. Gulley said it's important for him and Haydar to bring the Hogs back to the glory days of their childhood.
"It's a big deal," Gulley said. "It's big for us to be in a place where we can try to get the Razorbacks back in a position we're accustomed to. We grew up watching the Razorbacks play and be successful, and win at a high rate. So to try to come out here and be a part of it, especially in our senior year, has really been amazing."
Both of the guys are scrappy players who do the dirty work for the Hogs, rather than relying on scoring the basketball. Coach Anderson will need both Gulley and Haydar to keep up their consistent production as the Razorbacks make their final push for the NCAA Tournament.