Arkansas basketball coach Eric Musselman has done a fantastic job working the transfer portal, probably better than any college basketball coach.
This year, the Razorbacks welcomed three highly-touted transfer players to their team. One player in particular was expected to be the starting point guard this year: Chris Lykes.
However, in the first live-game action of the new season, Lykes was noticeably absent from the starting lineup.
Musselman told reporters last week in a press conference that the standout transfer point guard doesn’t know the Razorbacks’ plays well enough and his defensive execution is not up to Musselman’s standards.
Why is Arkansas basketball coach Eric Musselman deciding to keep Chris Lykes on the bench?
It’s surprising to hear such a highly touted transfer player not being named the starter, but there’s a very logical explanation.
Lykes has not been named the starting point guard yet because he doesn’t know the offense well enough, according to Musselman.
“Quite frankly, [Chris Lykes] doesn’t know our offense well enough and that’s an issue,” Musselman said in his press conference last week.
“He’s got to be more talkative. Usually, your point guard is your highest personality on the team and the loudest talker. So, we need Chris to talk better and we need him to learn and know inside-and-out our second and third options,” the Arkansas basketball coach said bluntly.
Perhaps realizing he was putting Lykes on blast in front of the media, he pivoted to how gifted Lykes is and how big of an impact he can make on this Arkansas Razorbacks basketball team.
“As a gifted scorer— he’s phenomenal. Obviously his pace of play can change the complexion of a game with how fast we want to play. But defensively and learning our plays are going to be Chris’ two biggest challenges,” Musselman said.
This sounds very much like a temporary situation and perhaps a coaching tactic to light a fire under Lykes to push him to where he needs to be mentally to lead this team. Lykes will no doubt be the long-term starter once he learns the offense and gains Musselman’s trust.
At the University of Miami, Lykes enjoyed career averages of 13.7 points, 2.7 assists, 2.0 rebounds and 1.1 steals per game.
The Razorbacks just finished playing their exhibition opener against East Central and will play another against North Texas Oct. 30.
The Arkansas basketball team was recently ranked No. 16 in the Pre-Season AP Top 25 college basketball rankings.