A roundup of college athletics from around Arkansas.
Hogs gain additional preseason looks
FAYETTEVILLE — Preseason honors keep piling up for some Arkansas players. Deatrich Wise Jr., especially. Arkansas’ senior defensive end was named to the Bronko Nagurski Trophy watch list Friday morning. The award, first handed out in 1993, is given to the best defensive player in college football as judged by the Football Writers Association of America. Wise had 10 1/2 tackles for loss, including eight sacks, and another five quarterback hurries as he become the most feared pass-rusher on the Arkansas defense. Over his last four games of the season, Wise tallied seven sacks, and he finished second in the SEC in sacks during conference games. He is expected to be a second-team All-SEC selection during the conference’s media days. Wise was also named to the Chuck Bednarik Award watch list by the Maxwell Football Club. The award, given in December, is presented to the best defensive player in college football. Arkansas offensive lineman Dan Skipper was also named to the Outland Trophy watch list Friday. Also a senior, Skipper is a four-year starter, assuming he starts this season. He has played guard and tackle and spent most of the spring at right tackle. It’s possible, however, he moves back to guard when fall practice starts. Arkansas punter Toby Baker was also named to the Ray Guy Award watch list for best punter in college football.
LR’s Woods signs with Switzerland
LITTLE ROCK – Former Trojan Roger Woods has signed a contract to play professionally in Switzerland. Woods will play the upcoming season for BBC Lausanne. The contract is for the upcoming nine-month season. Woods said he will fly out Aug. 11. Woods is coming off an All-Sun Belt season as a senior in 2015-16. He averaged 10.2 points and 4.3 rebounds per game while finishing the season shooting 53.8 percent from the floor. The 6-5 forward scored in double figures 20 times on the season and grabbed five or more rebounds in 15 contests. The Jackson, Miss., native played some of the best basketball of his career when it mattered most. He was voted the Most Valuable Player of the Sun Belt Tournament after totaling 19 points, nine rebounds and three steals in the Trojans’ win over ULM in the championship game. He scored 13 points in Little Rock’s win over Purdue in the NCAA Tournament, and followed that effort with 19 points and 10 rebounds in the Trojans’ season-ending loss to Iowa State. Woods said BBC Lausanne has asked him to be a scorer and playmaker, a role he played consistently in his time with the Trojans.
Gault heads to Sweden
LITTLE ROCK – After a year away from basketball, Taylor Gault was ready to come back. Late last month, she got her wish. Gault, a former Trojan great who graduated in 2015 after helping the Trojans to two NCAA Tournaments and picking up All-Sun Belt First Team honors three times, signed a professional contract to play basketball in Sweden for Visby Ladies starting this season. The ex-Trojan spent last year working a 9-to-5 job in a warehouse, ending her basketball career because she was tired. While holding that job, Gault continued to stay in shape by working out by herself and with another fellow Trojan, Shanika Butler. Butler, who graduated in 2012, has played overseas in Lithuania most recently but also in Iceland, Finland and Switzerland. After a year without basketball, Gault realized she needed to keep playing. So Gault signed with an agency that helped make her a highlight tape. She was contacted by the Visby Ladies general manager after he saw the highlight tape, and she signed with the team having never been to Sweden. Visby Ladies is based out of Visby, the main city on Sweden’s largest island in the Baltic Sea south of Stockholm and north of Poland. Visby Ladies plays in the Damiglan – the top league in Sweden made up of 10 teams – and has done so for 33 consecutive seasons according to its website.
Ayers joins All-Star roster
JONESBORO — Arkansas State pitcher Bryan Ayers has been selected to compete for the West Division in the Prospect League’s All-Star Game, set for July 13 in Kokomo, Ind., the league announced recently. Ayers, who’s playing for the Danville Dans, currently sports a 1.33 ERA across 27 innings in five total appearances with four starts. He’s accumulated a 2-1 record for the team, which is located in Danville, Ill., and has struck out a team-best 33 batters compared to just four walks. He’s registered a 0.85 WHIP and has held opposing hitters to a .190 batting average. Additionally, he has a complete game to his credit as he tossed all seven innings in a 2-1 victory over Champion City June 19 with one run allowed on four hits with seven punch outs and no walks. The Prospect League is a 12-team, wood bat summer league open to eligible college players. There are teams represented in Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. The Dans are currently 19-18 on the season to rank fourth in the West Division. The team registered a 16-14 mark in the first half of the season and is currently 3-4 in the second half.
Whiting jumps aboard UCA
CONWAY — The newest addition to the University of Central Arkansas athletics administration team is Matt Whiting, who came on board July 1. Whiting, who comes to UCA from the University of Arkansas at Monticello, is the new Assistant Athletic Director for Development for the Bears and Sugar Bears. Whiting received his bachelor of business administration-marketing from UAM in May 2010, and his masters of business administration from UALR in May 2012. Whiting has been at UAM since August 2012, serving as Associate Athletic Director for External Operations. His responsibilities there included serving as executive director of the UAM Sports Association (UAMSA), restructuring and rebranding the organization, oversight of the UAM Athletics Partnership Program, serving as major gifts officer for UAM Athletics and serving on the Athletic Director’s senior adminstrative staff.
LR creates new award
LITTLE ROCK — Director of Athletics Chasse Conque has announced the creation of the Kevin Crass Heart of a Trojan Award. It will be given annually to a Little Rock student-athlete based on community service, leadership and dedication to their team. An avid supporter, ambassador, community leader and benefactor, Crass recently finished a two-year term as chair of the Trojan Advisory Council, the department’s board of advisors. Crass has been a member of the council since its inception and will remain a member. Crass is also a member of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock Board of Visitors. The inaugural award will be presented in the spring of 2017.