There are 345 Division I college basketball teams and thousands of coaches and many more players and, well, I have a confession to make: Sometimes, I just forget about guys.
I’ll admit it. I forgot about Marshawn Powell. OK, fine. Two confessions.
In my own defense, the reasons are understandable. The last time we saw Powell play college basketball in any extended context -- that is, for longer than a week -- was back in 2010–11. Powell was a promising sophomore then, averaging 10.8 points per game and turning some heads within the SEC, but he was plying his trade for a team so utterly forgettable it cost former Arkansas coach John Pelphrey despite the top–10 recruiting class Pelphrey secured for 2011.
The 6-foot–7 Powell entered the 2011–12 season with a bit more of the spotlight; he was named to the preseason All-SEC second team, and he shot 71.4 percent and averaged 19.5 points per game in his first two contests of the season. And then, in a late November practice, he tore the ACL in his right knee. Powell’s season was over before it really ever began.
So you can forgive me -- or at least I hope you can forgive me? -- when I admit that in thinking about the upcoming Arkansas season, about second-year coach Mike Anderson and the bevy of talented sophomores he brings back to Fayetteville this fall, I’ve long since overlooked Powell’s prospective return to the lineup. To me, the 2012–13 Razorbacks season was all about the potential star turn of point guard B.J. Young, the development of forward Hunter Mickelson, the way Anderson’s “40 Minutes of Hell” would slowly but surely seep its way into his players’ pores, and what all of that would mean in an arguably top-heavy SEC.
But Powell is indeed a big part of this team. As the Associated Press wrote Thursday night, the redshirt junior forward returned to practice this week just in time to participate in the Razorbacks’ four-game trip to Italy and Lithuania (including stops at the Italian Alps, as well as Milan and Rome) and just in time to start heavily breathing throughout Anderson’s infamous conditioning sessions:
The Arkansas forward took the court with his teammates last week in preparation for a preseason 10-day trip to Italy, beginning Friday. He quickly discovered that all of his rehabilitation hadn’t quite prepared him for one of coach Mike Anderson’s practices.
“I couldn’t even make it past half court I was so tired,” Powell said.
(For the sake of my own state of mind, I’m going to do my best and not try to imagine what coming back from a year-long injury and then trying to run Anderson-led wind-sprints must feel like. I shuddered throughout the composition of this paragraph.)
Anyway, assuming Powell plays at a level consistent with his first two seasons, he’ll not only bring experience to a still-young team, but he’ll provide a very solid power forward piece up front alongside the 6-foot–10 Mickelson. That’s a good frontcourt. Not great, but good. If Young makes the leap everyone expects, and this personnel configuration works within Anderson’s system, Arkansas has an awfully good shot at its first NCAA tournament bid since 2008.
To be fair, I thought that was the case before I was reminded of Powell’s return. With him, the chances are only increased. Point is, it’s time to stop overlooking his return. It’s happening, and it’s fantastic news for the Razorbacks.