Neighbors insists Arkansas sticking to plan on revamped roster despite portal exits

By Dudley E. Dawson
on 2024-04-25 19:35 PM


FAYETTEVILLE – When a fifth Arkansas player announced her decision to enter the transfer portal on Thursday, Razorback women’s head basketball coach Mike Neighbors was not caught off guard.

Maryam Dauda announced her intention to do so on Thursday, a joining a group that also includes teammates Samara Spencer, Saylor Poffenbarger (Maryland), Taliah Scott (Auburn), and Jersey Wolfenbarger (LSU), who left the team before the season.

“It’s something he knew was coming and something that each men’s and women’s college basketball coach will have to deal with yearly from now on,” Neighbors said Thursday night of the portal, NIL deals and allowing multiple transfers.

“We all knew two or three years ago when things started rumbling about all these things were going to hit simultaneously that we needed to have a plan every year to have roster management,” Neighbors said. “It become a term for us all.

“We have had a plan from day one and it’s all staring to hit for us right now all at same time…We are deep into the execution of our plan and we are nowhere near done.”

Neighbors, whose team went 18-15 overall and 6-10 SEC action, did not want to talk abbot specific decisions.

“I have never after a post game…I don’t talk about kids or individuals situations ever be it in season or out of season so I am still not going to talk about individuals,” Neighbors said.

“I will say that everybody has a different path and that creates a different path for us. But we knew this day was coming, we had a plan, we started executing it.

“We have dealt with them all individually. It happens one of three ways – they come and inform you of their decision, some that you have conversations with and you come to where you come and then you just have some that want to explore their options with the option of coming back.

“I will tell you that we have all three of those situations, but I am not going to specify who’s who because that is between me and them. But we have a plan and we have had a plan.”

Arkansas has added 5-9 Arkansas State transfer Izzy Higgibottom and Barton County Community College forward Vera Ojenuwa (6-4) as transfers since this season ended.

The Razorbacks inked a pair of guard signees in November in Powder Springs (GA) McEachern star Jada Bates (6-3) and 5-9 Phoenix Stotijn of Haarlem, Netherlands.

Arkansas hosted Colin County guard, National Junior College Player of the Year and New Zealand native Waiata Jennings (5-9) and Wichita State transfer Daniela Albies last week on official visits.

“We’ve already got one out of the transfer portal and another out of junior college,” Neighbors said. “We have got two more (official) visitors coming in next week and we have been doing a number of zooms.

“I’ve got a card for them all. I feel like an AD (athletic director) that has a list of people and has one for every spot because you don’t ever know all the information.

“The main change was the multiple transfer rule. We all have dealt with the transfer portal. We always had one, but the multiple transfer rule is a game changer and you couple that with the introduction of name, image and likeness and you do all of that coming out of covid.

“Put all that and you just knew there were going to be times like this. But we have been prepared for it.”

Arkansas could end up with players from Spain, Nigeria and the Netherlands and other countries.

“You will see a very foreign flavor to some of the commits,” Neighbors said. “We could be the United Nations’ favorite teams. It is something I have always been interested in.

“We have done a really good job of preparing it and laying the ground work with a lot of people in those areas and as a result we are going to see some kids that are international.”

(Last updated: 2024-04-25 19:35 PM)