There are athletes in college basketball that have an impact on games defensively and offensively. Their ability to guard multiple positions is attributed to their elite athleticism.
So how does one of these impact superstar players follow-up his next year in the SEC college basketball world? They get better.
Enter Arkansas Razorbacks shooting guard Michael Qualls.
The Razorbacks last year played tough all season. They are a scrappy team that fights to the finish and enjoys playing in close competitive games. Arkansas took the No. 10 Florida Gators (Final Four participants) to overtime and only lost by two points.
Where as the Kentucky Wildcats fell victim to the Razorbacks each time they matched up during the competitive SEC basketball schedule.
Qualls was the star in the two games that the Razorbacks played with the Wildcats. In one game alone he hit the game winning field goal with a ferocious two-handed tip dunk in overtime.
Qualls played to the Razorbacks crowd and rode the momentum of that game all the way to the National Invitational Tournament. Though fans and teammates alike wanted an NCAA Tournament berth, what Qualls did was significant because he has now set up their program for the opportunity to go to the tournament next year.What hurt the Razorbacks’ chances last season to make the NCAA tournament was losing eight games in conference play.
Nevertheless, Arkansas exceeded expectations in the SEC during 2013-14 and won 22 games to finish the year with a 22-12 record.
Qualls played so well last season that he received an invitation to the LeBron James Skills Academy. This camp invite should come with high praise for Qualls since the LeBron James Skills Academy features the best thirty collegiate players in the country.
However, this was not his first camp this summer. Qualls also got invited to the Kevin Durant Skills Academy in Washington, which is a camp for wing and perimeter players.
So how does one of these impact superstar players follow-up his next year in the SEC college basketball world? Again, they get better.
Getting better is a concept that Qualls is no stranger to. After having a freshman season where Qualls only scored in double digits five times, he had a breakout super sophomore year where all of his offensive statistics increased. The most symbolic sign that Qualls had gotten a lot better offensively was his scoring numbers.
Qualls averaged 11.6 points a game, and scored in double digits 24 times last season.
“Mr. Walkonair” also landed himself on ESPN’s SportsCenter Top Plays routinely.
Thankfully, next year he will show that he is not a one trick pony. His production increase from his freshman year to his sophomore year was insane, and who is to say that his junior year won’t be even more substantial?
There is optimism that if Qualls can increase his numbers to a shade above 17 points a game he might have the opportunity to take his Razorbacks to the SEC Championship game and potentially the NCAA Tournament.
In a conference dominated by the Kentucky Wildcats and Florida Gators, the Arkansas Razorbacks might be making a bit of noise next season and Qualls might turn himself into a lottery pick.
(Make sure you watch the dunk at 2:47 WOW!)