Arkansas Basketball: Portis beginning to prove himself

Arkansas Basketball

Bobby Portis (Photo Credit: Gareth Patterson/AP)

Bobby Portis is proving to the country exactly why he was one of the nation’s top recruits coming out of high school.

Portis broke the freshman scoring record Wednesday night in Bud Walton Arena in a win over Alabama. He recorded 35 points, which broke the record of 34 points previously held by Scotty Thurman, who is now an assistant at Arkansas. Thurman scored 34 points against Missouri and Ole Miss during the 1992-93 season.

Portis scored 29 of Arkansas’ first 35 points, including 17 straight points from the six minute mark of the first half to the 11 minute mark of the second half.

Arkansas was lucky that Portis came to play. He was 14-of-17 from the field while the rest of the team was just 8-of-40. If it weren’t for him, a bad Alabama team would have blown out Arkansas.

Not only did Portis score 35 points, he grabbed nine boards and recorded six blocks against Alabama. He now leads the team by averaging 13.3 points and 6.6 rebounds per game.

Coming out of high school, Portis was a five-star recruit, a McDonald’s All-American, and the Gatorade Arkansas Boys Basketball Player of the Year. He led Hall High School to its fourth straight State Championship as a senior, averaging 20.4 points, 10.3 rebounds, and 3.8 blocks per game.

Arkansas fans had high expectations for Portis as soon as he arrived on campus. They expected a double-double from him every night and they also expected him to help this team win on the road. Their expectations may have been a little high, considering he was only a freshman but he’s done well for himself.

Portis has posted double figures in points 16 times this season, along with three double-double and four games where he was one rebound short of a double-double.

As to the being the solution for winning on the road, he hasn’t done that quite yet. But, the solution to winning on the road for Arkansas may be more than just one player.

Although, Portis is having a good freshman season, there are a few things he still struggles with.

He has a hard time creating good shots for himself, which leads him to take bad shots. Shot selection is definitely something he needs to work on.

Another area of weakness is his strength or lack of. There are times when he will get out muscled for a rebound or can’t finish a shot because he isn’t strong enough, especially in SEC play. Strength is something that will improve over the off-season.

Every player has areas of weakness but they can easily be fixed with hard work.

Even though it may be hard to see it right now, Portis gives a lot of hope to the future of Arkansas basketball. He can’t do anything but get better and he will do just that.

Arkansas travels to Nashville Saturday to take on Vanderbilt in a SEC matchup.