Arkansas loses SEC player of the year Bobby Portis to the NBA

Jeff Eisenberg
Arkansas loses SEC player of the year Bobby Portis to the NBA
Arkansas loses SEC player of the year Bobby Portis to the NBA

The player most responsible for spearheading Arkansas' return to national relevance this past season is leaving the Razorbacks.

Sophomore forward Bobby Portis announced Tuesday that he will forgo his final two years of eligibility and enter the NBA draft.

The decision from Portis is no surprise because he is projected as a mid-first-round draft pick after earning SEC player of the year honors this past season. The 6-foot-10 Portis averaged 17.5 points, 8.9 rebounds and shot 54 percent from the field, leading Arkansas to 27 wins, a second-place finish in the SEC and the program's first NCAA bid under coach Mike Anderson.

What made Portis a coveted recruit before he arrived at Arkansas was his motor, his size and length, his consistent mid-range jump shot and his ability to run the floor and finish around the rim. He excelled in all those areas with the Razorbacks and extended his range all the way out to the 3-point line, giving him the chance to be a dangerous stretch forward in the NBA with a knack for scoring around the rim too.

The departure of Portis increases the likelihood that Arkansas will take a step backward next season after spending most of this past year in the AP Top 25. The Razorbacks could lose four of their top five scorers depending on whether junior wing Michael Qualls also opts to enter the draft.

Qualls, the team's second-leading scorer and rebounder, is projected as a second-round pick by most mock drafts. The 6-foot-6 Louisiana native is expected to reveal his draft plans in the next couple weeks.

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Jeff Eisenberg is the editor of The Dagger on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at daggerblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!