FAYETTEVILLE — Forward Hunter Mickelson is leaving Arkansas after two seasons with the basketball program.
Darien Mickelson confirmed his son asked coach Mike Anderson for his release Tuesday morning and plans to transfer after the spring semester.
The decision comes after Mickelson averaged 5.4 points and 3.5 rebounds a game last season, struggling to make a mark in his second year with the Razorbacks. Darien Mickelson said his son enjoyed his time at Arkansas, but is seeking a better fit on the court after starting 20 of 32 games and averaging 16.6 minutes last season.
"He asked for it this morning and coach Anderson was really gracious about it and granted it,” Darien Mickelson said about his son’s meeting. “I had big reservations when he went up there in the system Anderson ran. But he's an Arkansas kid and that's all he wanted to do was play for the Hogs. That's what we're going for moving forward: Just trying to find a better fit and see if he can achieve his goals."
Mickelson did lead the Razorbacks in blocked shots (39) last season, which helped him earn the team's Rim Protector Award during Monday night's banquet. But it was well below his 2011-12 freshman record of 72 blocks.
Anderson said after the season he planned to talk to Mickelson about his weight, believing the 6-foot-10, 245-pound forward could benefit from some changes in the offseason in preparation for his junior year.
“I thought when he was a little leaner, I thought he was really, really active,” Anderson said. “I thought he was just more athletic. Just seemed like a lot quicker. It just seemed like this year a lot of people came right at him. Came right at him. And he would get a lot of fouls with people taking it right at him. Last year, he’d come from nowhere and block a shot or be in position to block shots.”
Darien Mickelson said his son will evaluate his options in the next couple of weeks before making a decision on where he will play next.
“He’s a face-the-basket forward that can shoot the three,” Darien Mickelson said. “He runs the floor great. He’s most effective when he catches the ball. Any system that does that, there’s a lot of really good schools out there that the bigs touch the ball every time down the floor.”
Mickelson becomes the third player to leave the program since the end of the 2012-13 season, joining forward Marshawn Powell and guard BJ Young. Both players declared for the 2013 NBA Draft.
Mickelson’s departure leaves Arkansas with only guard Ky Madden remaining from its heralded five-man 2011 signing class. Guard Aaron Ross never made it to campus, while forward Devonta Abron transferred to Texas Christian after his freshman season. Young and Mickelson are leaving after two years with the Hogs.
Mickelson’s departure also leaves Arkansas with nine scholarship players returning next season. Arkansas has signed forwards Bobby Portis and Moses Kingsley, but the Razorbacks have two scholarships available for the 2013-14 season.
Anderson was asked Monday night if the Razorbacks planned to sign any players.
“We never stop recruiting,” Anderson said. “We may sign one at this point in time.”