Arkansas graduate transfer point guard Chris Lykes has stepped into a new role outside the starting lineup for the first time in more than three seasons.
Some analysts considered Lykes to be one of the top college basketball transfers entering this season. So far, he is thriving in uncharted territory.
“I don’t mind coming off the bench, I’ve just embraced it, you know. Last time was my freshman year,” Lykes said in a press conference after the Hogs’ North Texas exhibition game Oct. 30. “It’s a different type of vibe coming off the bench, you’re able to kind of see the pace of the game, and kind of evaluate how you’re going to play out there.”
The last time Lykes did not have a spot in his team’s starting lineup was Jan. 7, 2018, in a loss to Florida State during his freshman season with the Miami Hurricanes.
Lykes has shown he can be an asset to the Razorbacks as a depth piece this season. Through his first two games with Arkansas he has provided a quick, lively on-court presence off the bench, averaging 10.6 points per contest.
“I try to bring as much energy as I possibly can,” Lykes said.
Strong offense is not the only thing Lykes brings off the bench. During his time at Miami he was known for being a quick defender, averaging over 1.5 steals per game across his four seasons, and he is already proving to Hog fans that he still has that talent. In the two exhibition matches prior to the regular season, Lykes recorded multiple steals thanks to his speedy presence on defense.
Through the first two regular-season games, he has made his case for becoming Arkansas’ sixth man, the first player off the bench. The sixth man role is vital to a team's success, and that point was proven last season by reigning SEC Sixth Man of the Year, Razorback senior guard JD Notae.
Another way Lykes could help the team is by being a role model for other players. Lykes’ veteran play and presence off the bench is sure to inspire Arkansas’ young guards. Arkansas head coach Eric Musselman will likely look to his new graduate transfers — Lykes, Stanley Umude and Au’Diese Toney — to fill this role.
With veteran leadership and outstanding play, Lykes is poised to strengthen the Razorback lineup this season. Lykes and the Hogs will hit the hardwood 7 p.m. Wednesday in Bud Walton Arena to take on Northern Iowa. The game will stream on the SEC Network+.