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Former Magnolia Panther standouts make their choices

by CHRIS GILLIAM Sports Editor | May 20, 2023 at 4:00 a.m.

A pair of former Magnolia Panther standouts have apparently made their decisions on what schools they will further their athletic and academic careers.

Derrian Ford, who entered the transfer portal after one season with the Arkansas Razorbacks have announced that he's committed to Arkansas State in Jonesboro. Colby Garland, who played a season at Link Prep Academy after high school, announced he will be attending Drake University in Des Moines, IA.

Both student-athletes made their announcement on Twitter.

Ford, when deciding to leave the Razorbacks, said "I would like to start by giving all the honor and glory to God for this incredible opportunity. I would like to thank all of the Razorback fans and the Arkansas community for the support and love you have continuously show me and my family. To my teammates and the coaching staff, thank you for the memories and bonds we've built. Arkansas will always be my home and hold a special place in my heart. After much prayer and consultation with God, my family, and the coaching staff, I have made the decision to enter the transfer portal. This is not the end; only the beginning for me. To everything there is a season; a time for every purpose under Heaven.... God Bless You."

After it was rumored he would opt for Vanderbilt or some other SEC school, the former Gatorade Player of the Year released a statement showing him wearing an Arkansas State jersey with the word "COMMITTED."

Ford, who led the Magnolia Panthers to three state basketball championships, didn't start any game for the Razorbacks but appeared in 21, recording only 80 minutes of playing time. He was 7-of-8 from the free-throw line, grabbed 10 rebounds, scored 15 points and had eight assists.

He will be playing for first-year coach Bryan Hodgson, regarded as one of the top recruiters and assistant coaches in the nation with 15-plus seasons as a collegiate coach. The Red Wolves hired him in March after four seasons as an assistant at Alabama.

Recently rated as the No. 2 recruiter nationally by, Hodgson played a vital role in recruiting top-15 classes each of the last four seasons in Tuscaloosa. Alabama, the overall No. 1-ranked team most of last season, advanced to the Sweet 16 twice in three-straight appearances at the NCAA Tournament since Hodgson joined head coach Nate Oats in Tuscaloosa.

In his time with the Crimson Tide, Hodgson has helped the program claim its first regular season conference title since 2002, first conference tournament title since 1991 and first Sweet 16 appearance since 2004.

Four Alabama players have been drafted to the NBA since 2020 after the program had one selection from 1992-2019.

Garland, who helped the Panthers to back-to-back state championships as a freshman and sophomore, is taking his skills to Drake University. He played his high school senior season at Maumelle, before the one-year stop at Link Prep Academy in Branson, MO.

Garland's said, "First I want to thank God for this opportunity and the health and strength he has given me to play the game I love. Next I want to thank my parents and my loving family for the continuous support and all the amazing sacrifice. You investing in me is the reason I'm here now and without them none of this is possible. I want to thank the Maumelle coaching staff for giving me the opportunity to come in the program and be myself. There are so many people to thank for believing in me and helping me. I want to thank my hometown of Magnolia for the support down through the years and for all the many memories that I can hold on to for a lifetime (go panthers). With that being said, I am excited to announce I will be committing to the University of Drake."

Drake men's basketball team battled Miami before losing in the first round of this year's NCAA Tournament.

Coach by Darian DeVries, Drake closed the season with a 27-8 record - the second most victories in school history and the school's fifth straight 20-win season, while winning the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament.

DeVries was the 2018-19 and 2020-21 Missouri Valley Conference Coach of the Year. He just completed his fifth season as the head coach of the Drake men's basketball program.

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