LITTLE ROCK — Stretching a point, there is more than one Arkansas angle to the NBA draft.
A could-have-been Razorback made news. So did an Arkie who said no to Fayetteville. To a lesser degree, the same can be said for three who once wore the Razorback uniform.
In a synopsis of the first-round picks, the New York Daily News said this about Denver using the 27th pick on a 7-2 forward from France named Rudy Gobert: “Gobert is heading to Utah in a deal, but the big move in Denver could be free agent Andre Iguodala going to Golden State in a sign-and-trade deal.”
Razorback fans would be following Iguodala’s career much closer if Nolan Richardson had not been fired in 2002. Richardson had told his friend and Razorback broadcaster Paul Eells that he had some recruits on the way that would have an immediate impact, particularly Iguodala who had committed to the Razorbacks the previous November. Explaining why he chose Arkansas over Kansas and Arizona, the 6-foot-7 Iguodala cited the Razorbacks’ fan base and said Arkansas was the only school that talked to him about playing point guard and small forward.
His commitment dissolved when Richardson was fired and, after two years at Arizona, he was the No. 9 pick in the 2004 draft. An All-Star and Denver’s best defender, Iguodala is to make $16.2 million next season.
Booed as a traitor by many Arkansas fans when Kentucky played in Fayetteville in March, Archie Goodwin of Sylvan Hills was taken by Phoenix with the 29th pick in the first round. A season-long source of frustration for Kentucky coach John Calipari, Goodwin had 88 assists and 101 turnovers for the Wildcats and shot less than 27 percent from three-point range.
According to the Lexington Herald-Leader, Calipari singled out Goodwin on the sideline during a game in February and told the freshman, “I can’t coach you.”
The youngest player in the draft, the 18-year-old Goodwin can respond to his critics by showing off a stub from his first paycheck. According to the salary scale for rookies, the No. 29 pick is to make anywhere from 80 percent to 120 percent of $895,600 in 2013-14.
If the draft had lasted three rounds and 30 more players, former Razorbacks B.J. Young and Rotnei Clarke probably would have been selected.
I never understood why many analysts considered Young a surefire first-round pick prior to his sophomore season. If true, his stock declined along with all of his shooting percentages last season. He shot lots of flat-trajectory threes and, more than once, ESPN analyst Jimmy Dykes criticized Young’s release on his free throws.
From far away, Arkansas coach Mike Anderson often appeared exasperated by something Young did or didn’t do. Along those lines, a scout who spoke on the condition of anonymity told Sports Illustrated’s Seth Davis that Young “can’t shoot and he’s wild.”
One of the best three-point shooters in Razorback history, Clarke transferred to Butler after Anderson arrived and sat out a year. For the Bulldogs, he made .408 from long range after hitting .438 and .427 his last two years at Arkansas. Listed at 6-foot, he measured 5-11 at a pre-draft tournament in Virginia. He said recently that he was not about to predict that he could play a significant amount of minutes in the NBA, but, “Whatever it is, I think that I have a role in this league.” To me, he could be a three-point specialist.
He also said that instead of playing in the Development League and waiting for a call from an NBA team, he would prefer to play overseas.
The NBA passing on Marshawn Powell was not a surprise to him or anybody else. Like Clarke, he will get a chance outside the U.S.
Harry King is sports columnist for Stephens Media’s Arkansas News Bureau. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.