The Arkansas Razorbacks are who everyone thought they would be to start the 2009-2010 season—and that is a mess.
Don't get caught up on that long though, because, in my ordinary fashion, I like to make sure that the positives going on with the Razorbacks come to light. So, I will be writing a series of articles about Arkansas newcomers and how well they are currently performing for the Razorbacks.
First on the list is freshman forward Marshawn Powell.
Powell was picked during the preseason by FoxSports.com to be one of the top impact freshmen this season. That was even before the Razorback suspensions were known, and before he was thrust into an immediate starting role.
Powell has not been one to disappoint.
He was a star recruit out of high school, ranked in the top 100, and seen as one of the top power forwards in the nation. The moment he visited Arkansas, he knew that he wanted to play John Pelphrey's style of basketball.
While the Razorbacks have been unable to play that up-tempo style, so far this season Powell is averaging just under a double-double at 20.3 ppg and 9.7 rpg. He is the second leading scorer on the team behind Rotnei Clarke, and he leads a talented group of newcomers all carrying the Razorbacks through their early season schedule.
Powell is doing all of this with a cast on his left hand, after breaking the hand just a few weeks before practices began. The hand is not yet fully healed, and the cast appears to hold him back some in his ball handling and on some jump shots.
Still, his numbers and performance give Razorback fans a reason to be hopeful for the future.
Powell is one of three newcomers currently starting for the short-handed Hogs, who are 2-1 after three games and currently only have seven scholarship basketball players available.
As the Hogs on suspension begin to return to the team, expect Powell to continue to start. He has outperformed Arkansas' returning All-SEC big man Michael Washington, and will continue to be one of the Razorbacks' most dangerous weapons.
Coach John Pelphrey has commented after each game that this is what is needed out of Powell. He was specifically recruited to come in and make an impact and contribute right off the bat.
Once his hand is fully healthy and the cast comes off, Powell will more than likely start to impress even more.
For a power forward, he has extremely good ball handling skills. In fact, even with his cast he has been the one inbounding nearly every ball and helping bring the ball up the court against pressure.
As he develops over the season, and begins to have more help and rest as the Razorbacks develop a bench, Powell could become one of the top players in the SEC—not just at Arkansas, and not just for freshmen, but the entire league.
The season is expected to be a long one for the Hogs, who are picked to finish fifth in the SEC West and go to the NIT.
Powell is a bright spot for the Hogs and a key component to the future.
As the Hogs build with their 2010 and 2011 recruiting classes they will build around Powell. The pieces for this are all starting to fall in place, but patience and support is needed from the Arkansas fanbase.
No matter how tough the season goes for Arkansas, one thing is for certain: Marshawn Powell is the Real Deal.
Continue to visit the Bleacher Report for updated news on the Arkansas Razorback Basketball team and their season.
Image Courtesy of ArkansasRazorbacks.com