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OPINION | WALLY HALL: NBA has its share of Arkansans on rosters

by Wally Hall | January 27, 2022 at 2:27 a.m.

My friend Jerry Webster and his wife Etta -- mostly her -- love the NBA, and they love to go to games in Memphis and Los Angeles.

They read every word our man Todd J. Pearce compiles of NBA Arkansans.

There's seven, which is more than originally thought, but most of the names are recognizable, such as Patrick Beverley who played for Stan Heath at Arkansas.

He's with Minnesota and in his 10th season in the NBA after spending four years playing overseas and transforming himself into a shooting guard with point guard skills.

There was one name -- the last one because Pearce lists them alphabetically -- who is not a household name, although he should be.

Austin Reaves was a shooting sensation at Cedar Ridge High School in Newark. He once scored 73 points in a triple-overtime win over Forrest City.

As a senior, he averaged 32.5 points per game and led his team to a state championship.

The 6-5, 177-pound (dripping wet) Reaves had three scholarship offers. Arkansas State, about an hour from home and where both of his parents played college basketball, San Diego State and Wichita State.

He chose Wichita State but stayed only two years before he transferred to Oklahoma. He sat out a transfer year, but he was anything but sitting around.

He put 20 pounds of muscle on his frame, worked on his shooting and ball handling every day and started two years for the Sooners, averaging 14.7 points as a junior and 18.3 as a senior.

Undrafted by the NBA, he got a free-agent tryout with the Los Angeles Lakers who signed him to a two-way contract. That type of contract determines a player's pay based on whether he is in the NBA or G League.

Less than two months later, he signed a NBA contract and has been with the Lakers ever since. He is currently averaging 5.8 points off the bench, has played in 29 games and by several written accounts is loved by his famous teammates.

Malik Monk, who played high school ball at East Poinsett County and Bentonville, is in his fifth NBA season after playing a year at Kentucky and is averaging 12.1 points per game for the Lakers.

Former Arkansas Razorback Mason Jones is on the Lakers' roster, too.

Bobby Portis from Little Rock Hall High School and the UA is having his best season, averaging 15.3 points per game for the Milwaukee Bucks, who are looking like a playoff team.

Daniel Gafford is in his first full season with the Washington Wizards, who traded for him late last season when they went 17-6 down the stretch and made the playoffs.

That helped make Gafford a social media star. Gafford, who is from El Dorado and played for the Hogs, is known for his smiles and friendly manners off the court.

Isaiah Joe, the sharpshooter from Fort Smith who played two years for the Razorbacks, has played in 34 games for the Philadelphia 76ers and is averaging 4 points per game.

Last, and certainly not least, is Moses Moody, who has had an interesting rookie season with Golden State.

Early in the season the Little Rock native was sent down to the G League, where the former Razorback scored 37 points in a game, and suddenly he was playing in both leagues.

There is no shortage of firepower on the Warriors roster with Steph Curry, but Moody has played in 27 games with the Warriors, averaging 2.2 points per game.

In his three games in the G League, he averaged 33.3 points per game.

All of these NBA players with ties to Arkansas are having interesting seasons, but no one more than Reaves, who is the only one who was undrafted and has earned his playing time through hard work.

Print Headline: NBA has its share of Arkansans on rosters


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