It wasn’t like former Arkansas Basketball Coach Mike Anderson didn’t want then freshman Desi Sills shooting last season. And it’s certainly not like new Arkansas Coach Eric Musselman doesn’t want now sophomore Sills playing defense. But, the different emphasis the former coach and current coach placed and place on Sills’ game manifests as the 6-1 guard and former 2-times state champion Jonesboro High School Hurricanes shooting star adjusts to his new coach and new system.“I love Coach A but he based me on defense,” Sills said. “And I was never a defensive player. I’d always be in my spots, but I was a scorer (15.5 scoring average as a Jonesboro junior and 20.5 as a Jonesboro senior) and now I’ll continue to be a scorer and do what I can on defense to help this team win, also.”
Film of Sills’ rising offensive star late last season, he started the final eight games and scored double-figures in four including a then college career high 15 at Kentucky eclipsed by his 18, including four 3-pointers, in the second-round NIT loss at Indiana, likely convinced Musselman encouraging Sills shooting from the start. “With this new team and new staff I’m more of a scorer now like I always have been in high school,” Sills said. “I appreciate Coach Musselman giving me the opportunity to be myself totally and I’m open to the whole experience.” Not that Musselman would have had problems with Sills if the coach had dictated Sills be all D without a shot.
Misunderstanding a TV reporter’s Media Day question amid the din reveals Desi Sills’ team approach. Sills was asked how excited he is to start the season which he heard as how excited is he to start? “To be honest I don’t care if I start or not,” Sills replied. “I’m a team guy. I’ve always been a team guy. Whatever Coach says is where they need me I’m going to do. If I start, OK. If I come off the bench I still have got to what I’ve got to do to help this team win.”
Musselman knows all that from seeing not only seeing Sills’ attitude and work ethic himself but how his teammates see Sills. Whether his returning teammates from last season or the recruits that Musselman has added, they like what they see in Desi Sills. “We had the players all vote on who worked the hardest,” Musselman said. “We had three different categories, leadership, working hard and who got in off hours and Desi graded out the highest amongst his peers. That was not anything with myself or the coaches. I had the guys vote on that. So I would say we have to talk about Desi just because of what his teammates thought about happened in the offseason.”
Sills smiles.“I appreciate them and am very thankful for them voting me because I put in the time here,” Sills said. “I took the offseason very personal to elevate my game.” Sills’ already elevated determination has been elevated again by tragedy. “I went back to Jonesboro (during the Sept. 20-21 weekend to a funeral for one of my best guys, Ja’Quaun Smith. We called him “Big Money,”. He passed away in a car accident. So I’m dedicating this season to Big Money. I’m dedicating the whole season to him.”