FAYETTEVILLE — Highly touted University of Arkansas freshman guard Khalil Garland of Little Rock Parkview will redshirt this 2017-2018 Razorbacks basketball season and preserve his freshman eligibility for 2018-2019, Arkansas coach Mike Anderson announced Thursday.
The UA’s fall semester on its Fayetteville campus ended with Thursday’s conclusion of final exams with Garland still not cleared for full practice because of a medical condition.
Garland has been medically allowed to do some limited basketball work and Anderson believes he’s on course to play some day. However, even if his condition Improves enough for him to participate in the SEC season that begins with Arkansas hosting Tennessee Dec. 30 at Walton Arena, Anderson said too much time has past already for these 7-2 Razorbacks for it to be worth Garland’s while to spend a season’s eligibility so far behind in practice time and conditioining.
"Nothing has changed with his status," Anderson said during his Thursday press conference advancing Saturday’s 7 p.m. game against the Troy Trojans for the Razorbacks’ annual appearance at Verizon Arena in North Little Rock. "But we are going to go ahead and redshirt him this year. Given the amount of time he has missed already. I think that’s going to be best for him and he can go ahead and really get down with school and see how everything operates."
Anderson said he’s "very optimistic" that Garland’s condition will sufficiently improve for him eventually to receive medical clearance.
How has Garland handled his plight thus far of not playing like was anticipated?
"He’s been good," Anderson said. "I think the biggest relief came to him when he could actually get out on the floor and do some things with us. Not necessarily the scrimmaging part of it, but just to be able to get out there. As long as he’s with these guys, he’s okay."
Arkansas senior guards Anton Beard, a graduate of North Little Rock High, and Daryl Macon of Little Rock Parkview were media available Thursday and both were asked about the players’ roles in keeping Garland’s attitude up despite the medical setback.
"We just stay positive with him," Beard said. "He’s one of the most talkative guys we’ve got, even though he’s not playing. He’s always energetic. He’s happy to be here and we’re happy for him. We just tell him to be patient, his time is coming. We feel sorry for him, but we don’t always show it. Tough love sometimes is good."
Macon said echoed Beard’s comments.
"Just try to keep him up in spirit," Macon said. "That’s about all we can do right now is just laugh and joke with him. Try to keep his mind off it so."
Both Beard and Macon were asked about playing their final Razorbacks game in Central Arkansas, also called home by freshman forward Darious Hall of Little Rock Mills, and the closest to home for senior forward Trey Thompson of Madison via Forrest City High, freshman forward Daniel Gafford of El Dorado and senior Dustin Thomas from just across the Arkansas line in Texarkana, Texas.
"It’s going to be a good feeling, going to play in your home town where most of us are from," Beard said. "We know it’s going to be e great crowd. I heard tickets are almost sold out, so it’s going to almost feel like a Bud Walton game."
That it’s nearing a sellout strikes home with Macon too.
"It feels good to go back home and play for a change,’ Macon said. "I feel like it’s going to be an exciting game I feel like. Tickets are almost sold out, so it’ll be an exciting game
The only ones seeing the game will be at Verizon. Saturday night’s nonconference game, airing as always on the Razorbacks’ radio network, is Arkansas’ only game for 2017-2018 not even available on internet video or conventional television.
"If you are depending on somebody else, you better get down there to see it," Anderson said. "I think it’s going to be a great environment. Our guys are looking forward to it. I think our fans are really, really excited about it. It’s kind of like back in the days, man… if you don’t have a ticket, you can’t see