Tramon Mark Set to Give Devo Davis a Run for His Money as Razorbacks’ Best Lefty

Tramon Mark, Arkansas basketball, transfer portal
photo credit: Arkansas Athletics

Arkansas basketball is set to have five returning players on next year’s roster, the most the program has had since head coach Eric Musselman’s arrival before the 2019-20 season.

While that is still relatively low when compared to other collegiate programs, Musselman has clearly put an emphasis on leadership and experience this offseason after watching his freshman-heavy 2022-23 squad struggle to maintain consistent play throughout the season.

Even the additions from the high school ranks and transfer portal this offseason reflect his seemingly preferred direction of leadership. After signing six freshmen last season, Musselman is bringing in only two freshmen – both considered five-stars at one point in their recruitment – to join a team loaded with experience.

Of the six transfers signed out of the portal this year, only Keyon Menifield has less than two years of college experience – and it was recently announced that he will be a non-scholarship redshirt for the upcoming season. Each of the remaining five transfers have spent an average of 4.0 years in a collegiate program.

Some of those seasons were redshirts, at junior college or cut short due to injury, but each new Razorback was still experiencing a collegiate program in some capacity during those seasons.

Perhaps the transfer with the most to offer in terms of meaningful experience is former Houston guard Tramon Mark. Listed at 6-foot-6 and 185 pounds, he went to a Sweet 16 and a Final Four during his time with the Cougars. Ironically, the Cougars lost in the Final Four to the same eventual-champion Baylor team that beat Musselman’s Hogs during his first Elite Eight run in 2020-21.

Best of Arkansas Sports reached out to Jason Wilson, Mark’s high school coach at Dickinson High in Texas, for more insight on one of the new Razorbacks.

“We all just wanted to support his decision, and he gravitated towards the atmosphere (at Arkansas),” Wilson said. “He gravitated towards the program itself and (Musselman) and the way he promotes his players. He’s excited about the new opportunity that he’s going to have there.”

Tramon Mark Player Breakdown

A lengthy wing, Tramon Mark is capable of playing the 1 through the 3 – and perhaps even some ultra-small-ball 4 – on a collegiate court thanks to his defensive prowess.

Houston has earned a reputation as a sort of defensive juggernaut over the past few seasons, and Mark has played a major role in that. He’s averaged more than one steal per game in each of the last two seasons and boasts a 90.7 defensive rating over his collegiate career (the lower a defensive rating, the better).

For reference, current Razorback standout Davonte Davis has a defensive rating of 98.5 over his three collegiate seasons. In fact, the Houston transfer has already drawn a considerable amount of comparisons to Davis in many aspects of his game.

Both are lanky, left-handed wings known for their intensity on the defensive side of the ball while also possessing the ability to score in bunches when their team needs it. Wilson said that Mark’s versatility with the ball stood out at an early age and continues to be one of his strongest attributes during his collegiate career.

“His ability to handle the basketball the way that he does at his size and being able to create for himself and others, that’s rare at his size,” Wilson said. “Watching him continue to grow in that aspect and as a player (at Houston) has been phenomenal.”

Mark has a 13.6% assist rate over his 76 career games at Houston – including 22 games with three or more assists. Davis has put forward a slightly higher assist rate at 15.9% over his three seasons, but it’s also worth noting that the Razorback guard is closer to 6-foot-4 and has been tasked with more true point guard duties than Mark at 6-foot-6.

When it comes to scoring, Mark has had the upper hand over Davis. In 76 career games, Mark has reached double digits 33 times (roughly 43% of the time) and scored more than 20 points six times. Davis had only scored 20 or more in a game twice prior to February of the 2022-23 season, when he did it twice in less than a month – including the 25-point outburst against Kansas.

According to Wilson, Mark has been consistently working on his ability to score more efficiently.

“When he’s been in the gym here, he’s working on all of his game,” Wilson said. “Picking his spots offensively, getting to where he needs to be, creating separation from defenders to score the basketball. He’s always working on those areas to be able to score the ball at a high level.”

After watching the Razorbacks struggle to score – and especially shoot – the ball at times last season, Arkansas basketball fans are itching for as many scoring options as possible next year. Mark is not a knock-down shooter by any means, but he showed a considerable improvement last season after jumping from a 26% 3-point shooter up to 33% on more than three attempts per game from long range.

Again, 33% isn’t necessarily turning heads, but when combined with the other scoring options Arkansas is set to field next season, it’s more than acceptable – especially for a defensive-minded type of player. For reference, Davis showed a similar jump during his junior season, rising from 25% over his first two seasons to nearly 35% last year.

Aside from his actual on-court contributions, Mark brings a certain level of experience that Musselman seems to be prioritizing for next year’s team. While his sophomore season was cut short due to injury, Mark did spend three years under Kelvin Sampson at Houston. He’s developed into a useful weapon on both sides of the ball, but he’s also now a veteran to the college game and brings leadership to the Razorbacks.

“Some guys are vocal leaders, while some lead by actions and performance,” Wilson said. “I think he’s geared more towards leading by performance… He’s a man of few words. His game speaks louder than his words, but he’s a guy that’s going to buy in. Arkansas got themselves a good one.”

Role with Arkansas Basketball in 2023-24

With five returning players, two highly touted freshmen and six incoming transfers, Arkansas basketball is once again loaded with talent from top to bottom. Some have even asked if this is the deepest roster Musselman has had during his time with the Razorbacks because of the overwhelming amount of experience.

With so much talent comes inevitable questions, however. Not all 13 players will see significant playing time – especially not under Musselman, who typically prefers to use 8-9 players max in his regular rotation.

Only a few players appear to be locked into significant roles next season, led by returning starter Devo Davis. Trevon Brazile is also in line for a big role returning from injury and Makhi Mitchell started nearly every game he played at Arkansas last season, making him likely to have a big role next season, as well.

After that, question marks start arising. Returning players like Jalen Graham and Joseph Pinion could be in line for major role increases if they’re able to smooth out parts of their game, but neither are necessarily penciled into the rotation just yet.

Among the incoming transfers, Tramon Mark seems the most likely to lock down a starting position. He fits the mold of a long, athletic, defensive-minded wing that Musselman prefers to feature in his starting lineup. While they’re all very different players, Jordan Walsh, Au’Diese Toney and Moses Moody are good examples of the lengthy defenders Musselman likes.

Sure, El Ellis and Khalif Battle are also in contention to start in the backcourt, but neither are locks. It’s worth noting that Ellis will likely be battling incoming freshman Layden Blocker for the starting point guard role.

Davis will still have ball-handling responsibilities. while Battle served as a scoring punch off the bench for the Temple Owls before transferring to Arkansas. Musselman has shown an affinity for bringing a scoring punch off the bench (see JD Notae in 2021 and both Ricky Council IV and Trevon Brazile at times last season), and Battle could fit seamlessly into that role.

The most likely rotation scenario right now seems to be some combination of Davis, Brazile and Mark anchoring the starting five. Mitchell, Graham and Baye Fall are in contention for minutes at the center position, with Mitchell being the most likely to start there due to his role last season, but Musselman could also opt to go smaller and start someone like Chandler Lawson (6-foot-8 transfer from Memphis) at the 4 and Brazile at the 5.

The guard rotation is even more up for debate. It seems likely that Ellis or Blocker could start at the point guard position alongside Davis and Mark in the backcourt, but Musselman could opt into Davis being more of a full-time point guard and starting someone like Battle or Lawson to join Mark on the wing.

The rotation possibilities are virtually endless at this point in the offseason, but Tramon Mark feels like the closest thing we have to a “sure thing” among the incoming players given his combination of size, athleticism and defensive gifts as part of a wealth of versatility on both sides of the ball.


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