FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas returned to the NCAA Tournament for a second time in three years this season, thanks in large part to the arrival of junior college transfers Jaylen Barford and Daryl Macon.
The Razorbacks will try and make it three out of four seasons in the NCAAs next season, led once again by Barford and Macon — who announced Tuesday they are returning for their senior seasons.
Both players entered the NBA draft last month in order to have their professional prospects evaluated. But they did not sign with an agent, leaving open the chance to return to college.
That's exactly what they did, providing a welcomed boost for Arkansas coach Mike Anderson and a Razorbacks team that went 26-10 this season before losing to eventual national champion North Carolina in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
"It was great for these guys to go through the process and test the waters of the NBA draft, but we couldn't be happier to have them back in a Razorback uniform next year," Anderson said. "Jaylen and Daryl will be instrumental in what we want to accomplish next year as we continue to take our program to the next level."
Barford averaged 12.8 points per game in his first season for Arkansas after leading the junior college ranks with an average of 26.2 points a year before.
The 6-foot-3 junior started 30 of 36 games for the Razorbacks and matched his career-best with 23 points in a win over South Carolina in February. His athleticism and finishing ability in the open court helped Arkansas improve from a 16-16 record the year before his arrival.
Barford said how the Razorbacks season ended to the Tar Heels played a role in his decision to return, saying Arkansas has "unfinished business to take care of next season."
"To see where I came from in junior college and now in the SEC, I know I can still get better," Barford said. "I want to continue to improve my game."
Like Barford, Macon — who is from Little Rock — arrived in Fayetteville after two years in the junior college ranks.
The 6-foot-3 sharpshooter averaged 13.4 points in his first season with the Razorbacks, scoring a career-high 30 in a win over Mississippi and shooting 38.7 percent on 3-pointers for the season.
"I have the same feeling right now as I did when I first signed with Arkansas," Macon said. "It's the greatest feeling in the world knowing I'm coming back to be a Razorback for another year."
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