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Haydar lands professional contract in Lebanon


FAYETTEVILLE — Former Arkansas guard Kikko Haydar played his final game as a Razorback during the National Invitation Tournament loss at California last month.

But the outgoing senior isn’t ready to put away his basketball uniform just yet.

Haydar has agreed to a three-year contract with play professional basketball in his home country of Lebanon. The 5-foot-10 guard signed with Sagesse, which is in Division A in Lebanon, and will join the team after graduation next month.

“I don’t know if I would’ve been so quick to jump on something if it wasn’t in Lebanon,” Haydar said Tuesday in Bud Walton Arena. “Just because it’s a place I’m very familiar with. It’s a place I have family and a place that I speak the language. There’s no culture shock for me. It was a perfect fit.”

Haydar, who has dual citizenship in the U.S. and Lebanon, spent most of his childhood in Northwest Arkansas after his parents became professors at the University of Arkansas. But Haydar said he went back to Lebanon during the summer and his family still owns a house in the country.

He’ll get to live and play there now after averaging 2.4 points in four seasons for the Razorbacks. Haydar – who played at Fayetteville High in the same backcourt with Fred Gulley — began his career as a little-used walk-on under former coach John Pelphrey. But he played a big role under Mike Anderson the past two seasons.

In fact, Arkansas named Haydar a team captain for both the 2012-13 and 2013-14 seasons. He averaged 3.3 points as a junior and 3.0 as a senior. Haydar played in 65 games with four starts during his final two seasons at Arkansas.

Wagner to transfer

FAYETTEVILLE — Guard Dee Wagner will transfer after two seasons at Arkansas.

Coach Mike Anderson announced Wagner’s departure Tuesday night. The sophomore played in 28 games during his career with the Razorbacks.

“I can’t thank coach Anderson, the entire coaching staff, my teammates and Razorback fans enough for all the support over the last two years,” Wagner said in a statement released by the program. “Things didn’t work out the way I had planned, but I’ve enjoyed my two years at Arkansas and am grateful for the opportunity.”

Wagner was rarely part of Arkansas coach Mike Anderson’s playing rotation. He averaged 1.4 points a game as a freshman and 1.1 as a sophomore.

One of his best performances came early in his freshman season, when Wagner scored 6 points and had 3 assists in 23 minutes off the bench against Syracuse. He scored a career-high 7 points against Alcorn State during the 2012-13 season.

Wagner’s departure means Arkansas has room to sign two players in the late period (April 15 to May 16) as part of its 2014 signing class. The Razorbacks have signed center Trey Thompson and guards Anton Beard and Nick Babb. Arkansas has a verbal commitment from guard Jabril Durham, who is planning to sign this month.

It’s not known where Wagner will transfer. He will finish the semester at Arkansas.

Smart turning pro

STILLWATER, Okla. — As expected, Oklahoma State All-American guard Marcus Smart has formally announced his intention to enter the 2014 NBA Draft.

Smart leaves the Cowboys’ program after a pair of highly productive seasons. The 20-year-old is one of just two Oklahoma State players to reach the 1,000- point mark as a sophomore and ranks second on the school’s all-time list for steals (189) despite participating in just 64 games.

An expected top-10 pick had he declared for last year’s draft, Smart opted to play one more season for an Oklahoma State team that entered 2013-14 as an expected national championship contender. He averaged 18.0 points, 4.8 assists and 2.9 steals during an up-and-down sophomore campaign marred by a three- game suspension from the Big 12 for confronting a Texas Tech fan during a Feb. 8 matchup against the Red Raiders in Lubbock.

The Cowboys won five of their final six regular-season games following Smart’s reinstatement to qualify for the NCAA Tournament, but were ousted by Gonzaga in the second round of the West Region.

Smart, the first OSU player to twice earn All-America honors by the National Association of Basketball Coaches, averaged 16.6 points, 5.9 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 2.9 steals over his two seasons with the Cowboys. The 6-foot-4 guard ended his collegiate career with a 23-point, 13-rebound, seven-assist and six-steal performance against Gonzaga, marking the first time in NCAA Tournament history a player has notched 20 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and five steals in a single game.

Warren entering draft

RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina State sophomore forward T.J. Warren is foregoing his final two seasons of eligibility and will enter the NBA Draft.

Warren captured Atlantic Coast Conference player of the year honors this past season after averaging a conference-best 24.9 points per game.

“I would like to thank my coaches and teammates at NC State for allowing me to compete for this great university,” said Warren in a statement released on Tuesday. “It’s been a fun ride the last few years. I’ve had some great experiences and now I feel I’m ready to play at the next level. Playing in the NBA has been a lifelong dream of mine and playing at NC State has prepared me well to achieve my dream.”

Warren also led the ACC in field goal percentage, becoming the third player in conference history to lead the ACC in scoring and field goal percentage in the same season. He set school records for points in a single season (871) and games with 20-plus points in a season (31).