It took seven games for sophomore forward Jordan Phillips to decide that he wanted to transfer from the University of Arkansas to UTA his freshman year.
Phillips averaged 1.43 points per game as a Razorback until he decided that his skill set would be better suited elsewhere. In January, he returned to Arlington, the city he grew up in, after he evaluated the roster at Arkansas and saw that their fast-paced motion offense wasn’t a good fit.
UTA also plays a motion offense, but he said he enjoys how disciplined the system is with his new team. He said the system breeds winners and creates successful players when executed correctly.
In the spring, Phillips sat out to comply with NCAA transfer rules. He became eligible to contribute to that offense when the Mavericks opened their 2019-20 season against UT-Dallas.
In his first game with UTA, Phillips scored a career-high 17 points on 5-8 shooting from the field in an 84-50 win over UT-Dallas on Nov. 5.
Richie Alfred, Phillips’ high school head coach, said he wasn’t surprised by the dominant performance his former athlete put on during his debut as a Maverick.
“He’s a very instinctive player, an intelligent player,” Alfred said. “He’ll end up being a very, very good player for UTA.”
But, basketball wasn’t the only reason Phillips came back home.
Family was a motivating factor behind his return. He said it’s easier for his family members to watch his games now that they don’t have to plan flights to Fayetteville, Arkansas.
“I feel pretty good to be back,” he said. “This is my city, it’s where I grew up. My roots [are] here, my family.”
Phillips played under Alfred at Grace Preparatory Academy. He became a top recruit in Texas when he played for the Lions.
Alfred said having Phillips on his team gave Grace Prep an opportunity to play in bigger, more competitive tournaments. They even played against high schools in the University Interscholastic League’s 5A and 6A divisions.
At Grace Prep, Phillips became a three-star recruit and was ranked within the top 150 players in the high school recruiting class of 2018, according to Rivals.com. He received offers from multiple Division-I universities, including Fresno State University, Oklahoma State University and Texas Christian University.
Phillips said he originally committed to Arkansas because of its atmosphere and the fact that it played in the powerful Southeastern Conference, which includes the University of Kentucky, a program that has produced NBA stars like John Wall, Anthony Davis and Demarcus Cousins.
“I felt like I was ready to compete at that level,” Phillips said. “I felt like it was the right decision.”
Head coach Chris Ogden said people on his coaching staff knew about Phillips before he made his decision to transfer from Arkansas. Assistant coach Royce Johnson was one of the staff who knew the 6-foot-7-inch forward from his high school days.
“When it came about that the kid was looking to transfer and entered his name in the [NCAA Transfer] Portal, we just started building that relationship and trying to get him here because of how he fits into what we do,” Ogden said.
Phillips said he wants to stay level headed and keep competing at a high level as his first season continues.
“There’s probably going to be some mistakes that happen along the way, I just can’t lose sight of the goal, which is to win,” Phillips said. “As long as I just stay focused on winning, I feel like everything else will follow suit.”