FAYETTEVILLE, AR (U of A) – After helping Arkansas advance to the SEC Championship game and NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2008, All-SEC second team guard Michael Qualls announced on Wednesday that he will enter his name in the 2015 NBA Draft.
“My time at the University of Arkansas has not only helped me grow as a basketball player, but also as a man and I'm very thankful for the guidance the coaching staff and everyone at the university has given me over my three years,” said Qualls. “After sitting down with my family I felt the best decision for me is to continue my basketball career as a professional. I'm ready to provide for my family and my son.”
“I can't say thank you enough to the Razorback fans. Coming in as a kid from Louisiana they embraced me from the start like I was one of their own and have always shown me an amazing amount of support. That means a lot to me and I'll forever be a Razorback.”
Qualls built off his breakout sophomore campaign with an All-SEC junior season in which he closed by averaging 23.5 points in the NCAA Tournament, good for second-most amongst the field of 68 teams that played at least two games. The Shreveport, La. native reached the 20-point plateau in both NCAA Tournament contests, highlighted his first career double-double of 27 points and 10 rebounds against North Carolina which happened to be his 100th game as a Razorback. Qualls' terrific postseason started by earning a spot on the SEC All-Tournament team while averaging 17.7 points during Arkansas' run to the title game.
“We certainly wish Mike all the best as he pursues his basketball career after college,” said head coach Mike Anderson. “I know this was a difficult decision for Mike, but one he ultimately thought was best for him. Mike has improved so much since he arrived on campus three years ago and hopefully that progressions continues.”
Finishing the 2014-15 season sixth in the SEC at 15.9 points per game, which is an 11.3 points per game improvement from his freshman season, Qualls became the 37th player in program history to score 1,000 career points, which fittingly came on a dunk in the regular season finale against LSU. Qualls reached double figures in 30 of 36 games and provided the Bud Walton Arena fans with eight of his 12 20-point outings on the season. Qualls' best performance at BWA in front of Razorback fans came this season against Alabama when he scored a career-high 30 points, grabbed eight rebounds and posted a pair of plays on SportsCenter's Top 10 later that night.
Known for his highlight-reel dunks, Qualls landed on the #SCtop10 five times this year to bring his career total to a staggering 13. Qualls proved he was more than a high-riser the last two seasons, hitting 97 three-pointers over that span, led by a career-best 55 this season. After reaching double figures in just three of his first 29 career games, Qualls did so in 56 of his last 71 en route to becoming the 26th Razorback to score 1,000 points in three seasons.
Qualls joins the other half of the SEC's top scoring duo (33.4 ppg) Bobby Portis in declaring for the NBA Draft that will be held on Thursday, June 25. Arkansas hasn't had multiple players selected in the same NBA Draft since 1992 when Todd Day, Lee Mayberry and Oliver Miller were each selected in the first round and Isaiah Morris was picked in the second round.