Razorbacks basketball has produced some scintillating dunkers over the decades, from Sidney Moncrief and William Mills* to Sunday Adebayo, Brandon Dean and Daniel Gafford, but standing out as the greatest of the all is Michael Qualls.
Qualls, a wingman who teamed up with Bobby Portis to lead Arkansas back to the NCAA Tournament after years of wandering the desert, produced the program’s most electrifying moment of the 21st century in 2014 when he slammed home a Ky Madden miss with .2 seconds left to knock off Kentucky at Bud Walton Arena.
See it at :45 here:
In his last two seasons (70 games), Michael Qualls appeared on SportsCenter’s Top 10 Plays 13 times.
Vying with Sonny Weems, Qualls was also the second-best all-around player among the greatest Razorback dunkers (behind only Moncrief in this department.) As a junior, Qualls produced a second-team All-SEC season and would have been an SEC Player of the Year candidate had he chosen to return his senior season.
Instead, like Portis, he chose to enter the 2015 NBA Draft.
We make the best decisions we can based off the information and situations that comes day in and day out . That was a grown man decision lil bro . We all have our reasons ??? https://t.co/HNsk2Xpb9d— Mike Qualls Sr (@Mr_WALKONAIR) June 6, 2020
Michael Qualls, however, suffered an ACL tear before the draft and never made it into the NBA.
In the years since, he has bounced around the NBA G-League and abroad in places like the Philippines. This fall, it appeared the 26-year-old Qualls was settling down.
He, his girlfriend Ruvanna Campbell and their little baby were sharing an apartment and doing cute/interesting things like dressing up like robbers for Halloween:
On Sunday night, however, that domestic tranquility was punctured by unexpected disaster.
Fire erupted in the second-story apartment and forced Ravunna and Mike to flee with their baby.
According to Ravunna Campbell’s Facebook page, they ended jumping out of the window to get to the ground. “Ease you through all that glass and toss you enough through the window while diving right behind you and you not getting not one scratch,” Campbell wrote. “Daddy was punching running kicking all the above to save us mama we so BLESSED. I can’t wait to get out of surgery and kiss and hold you again for the first time.”
The parents suffered severe but not life-threatening injuries. Qualls is recovering from injuries that include burns on his face. But, amazingly, their four-month-old suffered only a small scratch on her foot.
Now, they are asking for help to deal with the loss of all the possessions they had in their apartment (perhaps in Philadelphia, where Campbell lives).
At the bottom of this Tweet is a link to a GoFundMe account:
Almost lost my family but God had other plans !!! Burns and cuts will heal and the house can be replaced . I just ask all my supporters if you can please help donate to me and my family at this tragic time #wps4ever https://t.co/MbSDKxOL8e— Mike Qualls Sr (@Mr_WALKONAIR) November 17, 2020
The original goal was $10,000 and by Wednesday, that goal was still thousands away from being reached. But then Bobby Portis donated $4,128 to his old Razorback running mate to put it over the top. Nearly $11,000 had been donated by Thursday afternoon.
Qualls, in turn, tweeted to Portis: “Much love to my brother #brotherhoodlastsaneternity.” He also sent a message of gratitude to everybody else: “Also, much love to all my supporters in this time. You’re all awesome.”
Thanks to this support, Campbell has hope for the future and for their child, Baby Secret, despite the scary setback,: “Mommy and daddy promise to work way harder to put you in a another nice and cozy home. I can’t wait to sit you up and put the Christmas tree up. We gonna have matching Christmas pjs and make daddy cut on Christmas songs and force him to create new holiday traditions.”
“We have something to rejoice and celebrate.”
Last year, before the pandemic, Michael Qualls showed out as a man among men. He averaged 31.1 ppg, 12.9 rpg, 3.8 apg and an array of highlight dunks that deserve Top 10 finishes on whatever the Philippines’ equivalent of SportsCenter is:
*The Great Hogs Dunker Whose Life Ended In Tragedy
Many Razorbacks fans who saw William Mills play for the Hogs in the mid 1980s say he’s among to top handful of dunkers in program history.
The 6’7″, 210 wing transferred into the program from Tennessee and averaged 11.3 points and 4.7 rebounds during his Arkansas career. By far his most memorable talent was his ability to sky and throw down with the fury of Zeus.
While no known video online exists of his exploits, Mills’ electric reverse dunking lives on in the memory of fans on the message board Hogville.net.
During his first season, he made a play against Tulsa where he made a steal, then drove to the other end of the court and pulled off a monster reverse dunk. On the way back, he high-fived Eddie Sutton, then the Hogs’ head coach.
The opposing team’s coach? None other than Nolan Richardson.
The next year, Richardson took over the Hogs program but by then it was too late to steer Mills around.
Here’s what Hogville’s pignatious wrote:
“I always wondered if Sutton’s own problems with alcohol, and the head assistant at the time problems with drugs, had an adverse effect on that team. [Razorback] Kenny Hutchinson was a druggie as well and they were best friends and roommates.”
“Seemed like it was just over looked as long as they could play. Mills could play unbelievably great one game, and totally disappear the next. Undoubtedly, drugs were the reason for that. I will always remember him as one of the most talented players I have ever seen in a Razorback uniform. But, also one of the most tragic stories of unfilled promise.”
By 1987, the recurring drug problems had become too much for Richardson to keep trying to handle. He dismissed Mills from the team before his senior year.
In January 1991, Mills was fatally shot outside of the Fayetteville night club Hollywood’s. His murderer was former Razorback track athlete Michael Byrd.
″After something like this happens you think, what more could we have done to help?,” Richardson said afterward. “You think: If I could have gotten here sooner or spent some more time with him.”
For more on Hogs basketball, see our post: