Obviously, the primary benefit is a much needed win - on the road. WE HAD to have at least one road win to make up for the home loss to LSU. Of course, it would be nice to get a couple more to give us some breathing room, as we MUST finish 9-9 or better in SEC play, or our RPI won’t matter.
But another part of tonight’s results might be significant after the season.
I love Danial Gafford’s game, and I want nothing but long-term success for the young man. However, selfishly, I’d really like for him to spend one more year at Arkansas before he leaves for the fame and fortune of the NBA. That said, if I believe - in my heart - that a kid is ready for the next level, I never begrudge him the opportunity to move on. Sure, I might like to have him stay for one or even two years. But, if he’s truly ready, I understand and wish him well.
On the other hand, if I really, truly feel he can/needs to improve and season his game a little, while improving his Draft status, then I hope he does come back for another season - for just those purposes.
After watching Gafford’s game tonight, I think it provided a very good argument why he’s not quite ready for the NBA just yet. In other words, as much as he’s shown and with as much undeniable talent as he has, I do feel he can benefit from another year of SEC play. Maten is a very talented college player, but he’s only projected to be a second round NBA pick. If he can shut Daniel down - and he did - then the case is pretty well demonstrated.
Sure - all players have an “off” game from time to time. But getting shut out demonstrates to me that he needs to add a little more consistency. I think this is one game that will be brought up if and when Daniel submits his name to the NBA draft review committee for feedback.
FWIW, I have always thought we had a good chance of getting him back for next season, because of the arrival of so many of his AAU buddies that he played with for so long. I still feel that way. I NEVER wish for him, or any other player, to have a bad game. If he elevates his play the rest of the way to the degree that the NBA projects him as a lottery pick - well, God bless him and off he goes. But, at this point, I’m not seeing that this year. And if the projection remains in the mid to late first round, I think he can improve his stock with one more season in Fayetteville.