Arkansas Can Get Revenge on Kansas State Through Coleman Hawkins Sub

Coleman Hawkins, Trevon Brazile, Ugonna Onyenso, Arkansas basketball, transfer portal
photo credit: Illinois Athletics / Craven Whitlow / Kentucky Athletics

It’s unclear if the race for the final spot on the 2024-25 Arkansas basketball roster is really over.

Head coach John Calipari is insistent on having a rotation of only 8-10 scholarship players and reiterated at the SEC Meetings last week that he was looking for “one more guy.”

On Tuesday afternoon, the Razorbacks landed their ninth player in the form of Trevon Brazile, who was announced to be returning to Arkansas from the transfer portal:

Trevon Brazile’s Bumpy Road

Trevon Brazile, of course, spent the last two seasons with the Razorbacks before declaring for the NBA Draft. All signs pointed to him beginning his professional career, but he also entered the portal late in the process as a fall-back plan and now he’s taking it.

An immensely talented and athletic 6-foot-10, 220-pound big man, Brazile looked like a potential first-round pick early in his first season at Arkansas, but suffered a torn ACL in just his ninth game. He returned this past season and wasn’t bad, but also didn’t make the jump many expected from him.

Of course, it sometimes takes longer than a year for athletes to return to their normal self following ACL injuries, so it’s not crazy to think he’ll enjoy a breakout season in 2024-25.

He certainly fits the need for another big man to play alongside Zvonimir Ivicic and Jonas Aidoo, but he’d be sharing minutes. It looks like Brazile doesn’t mind going back to his role as a sophomore where he was more of a complementary player as opposed to the centerpiece. Schools that had beeen mentioned as possibilities for him included Memphis, Nebraska, St John’s and Texas.

Potential Arkansas Basketball Targets

While Brazile may be the last Razorback for 2024-25, it’s still possible Calipari may add a 10th scholarship Razorback. A quick recap: After relatively quickly adding seven players to a roster that included only walk-on Lawson Blake, things quieted down for Calipari.

The Razorbacks did finally land Kentucky transfer DJ Wagner early last week, bringing the roster to eight, and now that the NBA Draft withdrawal deadline has passed, it feels like the legendary coach is inching closer to finalizing his roster.

Previously committed transfers Johnell Davis (FAU) and Jonas Aidoo (Tennessee) pulled their names out of the draft, as expected, while a handful of others have already landed elsewhere. Most notably, former Arkansas player Jaxson Robinson opted to follow his former coach to Kentucky and JT Toppin landed at Texas Tech.

Here’s a rundown of five other NBA Draft withdrawals still on the board who could be in the mix for the 10th spot at Arkansas…

Coleman Hawkins — Illinois

Before Brazile, the odds on favorite to fill that final roster spot was Coleman Hawkins. The 6-foot-10, 230-pound big man is coming off the best season of his career, averaging 12.1 points, 6.1 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.1 blocks as a senior. That earned him second-team All-Big Ten accolades.

It was widely believed that Hawkins would remain in the NBA Draft, as he was very open and vocal about that being his desire, but instead, he’ll play a super senior season elsewhere. The Razorbacks are thought to be the leaders and would satisfy one requirement he put out during the draft process.

“I will never play in the Big Ten again, I wouldn’t play in the Big East,” Hawkins told reporters at the NBA Combine. “I would go somewhere with a football team where I can enjoy a football game.”

Whether or not he and Arkansas fans will enjoy the product Sam Pittman, Bobby Petrino and company put on the field this fall remains to be seen, but Hawkins has made a lot of sense when it comes to the hardwood.

He would be reunited with Arkansas assistant coach Chin Coleman, who recruited him to Illinois, and he’d be joining a loaded front court that already includes Zvonimir Ivisic (7-foot-2) and Jonas Aidoo (6-foot-11) as well as Brazile (6-foot-10). Having other big men like that would give him the freedom to play the 4 and not solely the 5.

It’s less likely Hawkins and the following possibility come to Arkansas after Brazile’s return. He may want to go somewhere he could be *the* guy, which would mean a school like Louisville or Kansas State may make more sense.

When some within Arkansas sports circles speculated that Hawkins hasn’t come to Arkansas because of a lack of NIL funds, Coleman himself chimed in to apparently refute that with the ol’ laughing crying emoji:

That he’s going through the effort to do this shows there still might be hope he’ll show up on the Hill.

Arthur Kaluma — Kansas State

If the Razorbacks instead choose to pursue a wing for that final roster spot, Arthur Kaluma would be a good fit. Listed at 6-foot-7, 225 pounds, he played the first two years of his career at Creighton before joining the Kansas State basketball program last season.

In his lone season with the Wildcats, Kaluma was a starter and put up 14.4 points, 7.0 rebounds and 2.0 assists — all of which were career highs.

There’s a chance he ends up back in Manhattan, Kan., as Kansas State coach Jerome Tang has been open about his desire to retain him, but many believe Kaluma is headed elsewhere. If that’s the case, Arkansas is widely believed to be a factor, as are Texas and Baylor. Certainly, the UA athletic department would like to exact some revenge on Kansas State after the baseball Wildcats waltzed into Fayetteville and beat the host Hogs last weekend, the first of two losses that ended Arkansas’ promising baseball season in the NCAA Tournament Regional.

Another school to potentially watch for Kaluma is Memphis, which is dealing with the unexpected decision of David Jones to remain in the NBA Draft. He’d be a perfect replacement for the Tigers.

Ugonna Onyenso — Kentucky

Another big man option for Arkansas is yet another former John Calipari player, as Ugonna Onyenso played for him at Kentucky. The Razorbacks have already brought in three former Wildcats and three Kentucky signees, so adding another wouldn’t be particularly shocking.

Similar to Hawkins, Onyenso seemed to be set on staying in the NBA Draft when he initially declared, but he also entered the transfer portal as a backup option.

It’s easy to see why schools are interested in the 7-footer. He averaged only 3.6 points and 4.8 rebounds as a sophomore at Kentucky last year, but that was in just 18.8 minutes per game. Most impressively, despite that lack of playing time, he still managed 2.8 blocks per game.

Adding an elite rim protector like that would be great for Arkansas, especially with him not being a scoring threat who would theoretically take points away from the other big men on the roster. However, he seems like a long shot at this point.

Kansas State is probably the favorite, as On3 reported he was visiting the Wildcats this week. ZAGSBLOG is also reporting he plans to visit North Carolina, Mississippi State and Oregon.

UPDATE (June 4): Ugonna Onyenso has committed to Kansas State

Wooga Poplar — Miami (Fla.)

A name that has been popular among Arkansas basketball fans since he first hit the transfer portal, Wooga Poplar is still on the board after going through the NBA Draft process.

Listed at 6-foot-5, 195 pounds, he would satisfy the Razorbacks’ need for another shooter, as he has shot 38.1% from beyond the arc the last two seasons at Miami (Fla.). This past year, he averaged 13.1 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.1 assists.

According to a report by Kentucky Sports Radio last week, Poplar has a visit scheduled for Oregon and was also planning visits to Kentucky at Arkansas. The Wildcats might not be in the picture any more, though, after landing another sharpshooter in Jaxson Robinson.

Another school that would make a lot of sense for him is Villanova because he’s from Philadelphia and may want to go closer to home for his final season of college basketball.

Jamir Watkins — Florida State

Arguably the top available player in the transfer portal, Jamir Watkins is technically still on the board, but Arkansas isn’t believed to be in the mix at the moment. According to Jon Rothstein, he’s narrowed his list of schools to six and the Razorbacks aren’t one of them:

Of course, transfer portal recruiting can get wild and things change on a whim. If he does open things back up, he’d certainly be a wing option worth pursuing for Arkansas.

After two seasons at VCU, Watkins (6-7, 210) landed at Florida State last season and enjoyed the best season of his career, averaging 15.6 points, 6.0 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.9 steals.

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