FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas high school basketball fans will see a familiar face when the Razorbacks play Kentucky at 3 p.m. today.
Former Sylvan Hills guard Archie Goodwin, who was one of the nation’s top high school prospects last season, will be in Bud Walton Arena trying to lead the Wildcats to a win against Arkansas. Kentucky coach John Calipari said Friday it could be a challenging homecoming for the talented freshman.
“We talked a little bit about it,” Calipari told the Louisville Courier-Journal on Friday. “It’s going to be a hard deal for him, but I think he’ll be fine. He may have a couple moments, but he’s had them without being home, where he does things like ‘Oh my gosh, what did you just do?’ … I just told him, ‘You got to keep your head focused on our team.’ But it’s hard. It’ll be a hard deal for him.”
Goodwin, who was the state’s Gatorade Player of the Year and a McDonald’s All-American last year, signed with Kentucky after also considering Arkansas, Connecticut, Memphis and Kansas. He has started every game and is the Wildcats’ leading scorer (13.8 points a game), but it has been anything but a smooth ride.
Calipari — who has grown accustomed to having flawless freshmen like Derrick Rose and John Wall — said Goodwin has been caught up in trying to do too much several times. But he added the guard is “learning his way” as a freshman.
“We are trying to figure him out and he is trying to figure himself out,” Calipari said Monday. “He is too hard on himself, a la Derrick Rose. If he misses one shot, it leads to three more misses. If he turns it over, he can’t defend on the other end. He hasn’t put the emphasis on rebounding yet. But he is a freshman and he is doing well.”
Kentucky teammate Ryan Harrow told the Louisville Courier-Journal that Goodwin has snatched up plenty of tickets for friends and family today. He knows Goodwin is excited and “wants to do well out there” against the Razorbacks.
Arkansas coach Mike Anderson believes it, pointing to Goodwin’s 18-point performance in a win against Missouri last week. He said the Hogs have to do a good job defensively on Goodwin, who has “a lot of confidence in his abilities.”
“In the Missouri game I saw him scoring the basketball,” Anderson said. “He’s their leading scorer. He made some outside shots, which really makes him effective because he’s a gifted slasher and is very, very athletic. … He’s a good player.”
— Robbie Neiswanger