FAYETTEVILLE — During Tuesday’s Arkansas Razorbacks basketball media day, Coach Mike Anderson was asked both about what’s going on with his team that started basketball practice and with the cloud hovering over college basketball.
An ongoing investigation by Federal Bureau of Investigation into corruption in college basketball has led to charges against one assistant coach each at Auburn, Oklahoma State, Arizona and Southern California and caused the University of Louisville to fire Coach Rick Pitino and at least temporarily oust athletic director Tom Jurich. The investigation is believed to be spreading much further and has figures at shoe companies and agents.
Anderson says he’s confident that his program has done nothing to give the FBI cause to investigate the Razorbacks.
““I haven’t talked to them and hopefully I don’t intend to talk to them,” Anderson said of not being a program of which the FBI has made an inquiry. “One of the things that we always have been is in compliance and I stated from day one - even as an assistant coach - we are doing things that right way. “The thing I am proud of is that I have surrounded myself with people who see the vision I have when you talk about how we do it at Arkansas is the right way. And I think people across the country know that. We may not get some kids because of that, but because of that I can go to sleep at night.”
Asked what it means that this investigation of possible bribery and corruption isn’t a NCAA investigation but a FBI investigation, Anderson replied, “That it’s serious. It’s serious. Evidently there is something out there and the FBI and investigators are going to get to the bottom of it and it could be far-reaching in a lot of different places.”
Regarding the investigation’s effect on college basketball, Anderson said, ““It is kind of stunning really when you see what has taken place and it is not a good look for college basketball. But I don’t think it is a statement for the entire college basketball.
I don’t think all coaches or programs are of that nature, but there is no question about it that it is a shot at college basketball.”
Regarding his Razorbacks, Anderson said medical privacy laws forbid him from discussing specifics about freshman guard Khalil Garland, currently not medically allowed to participate in practice which started Monday, other than observing and doing some shooting on the side.
“I’m very optimistic that he will be back,” Anderson said. “That’s how I feel, but we’ll have to see what the doctors say on that.”
From last season’s 26-10 Razorbacks that advanced two rounds deep into the NCAA Tournament losing to eventual national champion North Carolina, Anderson returns five seniors: guards Anton Beard of North Little Rock; Daryl Macon, Little Rock Parkview; Jaylen Barford, Jackson, Tenn. and forwards Trey Thompson of Madison via Forrest City High, and Dustin Thomas of Texarkana, Texas in his second active Arkansas season since transferring from the University of Colorado.
A sixth senior, forward Arlando Cook lettering last season as a junior college transfer, remains in school but suspended from practices and team activities since arrested and charged in Fayetteville with assault, disorderly conduct and public intoxication.
“We’re going to let the law take its course and then we’ll go from there and I’ll be able to make my decision on what takes place,” Anderson said.
Anderson has no juniors on the roster but two returning sophomores, forward Adrio Bailey and shooting guard C.J. Jones.
Arkansas’ scholarship freshman newcomers include Garland; forwards Daniel Gafford, El Dorado; Darious Hall, Little Rock Mills; and Gabe Osabuohien, Toronto, Canada.
Gafford is Arkansas’ most heralded signee since Bobby Portis of Little Rock Hall who as an All-American Razorbacks sophomore in 2014-2015 was named the SEC Player of the Year.
Anderson insisted back in 2013-2014 that Portis wasn’t signed as a “savior” and went back to that stand regarding Gafford.
“Daniel is not the savior of our basketball program,” Anderson said Tuesday. “I said this about Bobby when he first came in. Daniel will come in and go at his own pace. That’s going to be the big key. That’s why you’ve got seniors and other guys on your basketball team. Therefore he can come in and go at his own pace. But trust me, if there’s any indication what’s taken place throughout the summer, and what’s taking place in practice right now, he will impact our team.”