FAYETTEVILLE — If Greenwood native Mike Neighbors’ track record at University of Washington is any indication, his first season back home coaching the Arkansas Razorbacks women will be forgotten by most.

It won’t be forgotten by him. He’ll remember it and remember it fondly despite the 13-18 overall and 3-13 SEC records. Neighbors finished with a 98-41 mark and a Final Four appearance in four years coaching the Washington Huskies.

Because even when their teams improve with the players they recruit, successful coaches inevitably have a place in their heart for that first team of inherited players starting it all, usually with a veteran stepping up to embrace the new and leading others to follow.

So during the team’s postseason banquet starting with new athletic director Hunter Yurachek and finishing with Neighbors, lone team senior Devin Cosper was honored Tuesday night at Walton Arena.

As an already graduated senior lettering on 12-19 and 13-17 teams under former coach Jimmy Dykes and only 2-14 in the 2017 SEC with personnel prospects, Cosper could have transferred with immediate eligibility.

Instead she stayed, averaging 14.1 points and 5.6 rebounds, both second on the team, and leading in ways on the court and off.  Cosper, an honors student, graduated a year ahead of schedule, impressing Yurachek though he didn’t arrive at Arkansas until December.

“Devin, many in your position would have looked for greener pastures,” Yurachek said opening Tuesday’s banquet. “But you didn’t. And for that I say, ‘Thank you. We wish you the best whatever your life holds.”

A native of Coffeyville, Kan, who transferred as a 2015-2016 sophomore from Coffeyville Community College, Cosper said what her life holds already is vastly enriched by her Arkansas experience. She thanked teammates, fans, academic and training staffs and assistant coaches and choked up thanking Neighbors.

“Coach Neighbors, you didn’t have to take me but you did,” Cosper said, fighting tears. “You believed in me and you brought back my love for the game.”

Neighbors wiped tears of his own.

“That’s why you coach,” Neighbors said. “Those are the moments — to see Dev that thankful for those who have been a part of her life — that’s why we do this thing.”

Even if the steps appear modest, Neighbors said this team winning its SEC Tournament opener which the 2016-17 squad did not, and winning one more SEC game than the 2016-17 squad, and coming so close in others like the 90-85 to the wire SEC loss to No. 11 Tennessee, progressed significantly.

“People make the difference and they made it better than I could have hoped,” Neighbors said. “Everybody tried to be part of the solution instead of part of the problem. We are so much further ahead of the blueprint than we could have been only 12 months.”

If 2017-18 sophomore transfers A’Tyanna Gaulden from Oklahoma and Chelsea Dungee from Florida State and November incoming freshman signee Rokia Doumbia produce as anticipated, it will be said by media and fans that Neighbors improved the Razorbacks bringing in “his people.”

Neighbors insists “his people” have been in place from Day One.

“I’ve never been one to say these are not my kids,” Neighbors said. “Because I signed every one of them the day I got here. I gave them all out letters and re-signed them. Even though somebody else got the chance to recruit them, they’ll always be my kids. This will be the team that got this built. This will be the legacy. I challenged them halfway through the year. I said, ‘You’ll either be the team that starts it or is it going to be next year’s team?’ They all wanted to be that team going deeper into the SEC Tournament and climbing in the standings. This will be the team we remember.”

And other than Cosper see again next season.

“Everybody is back and we even have a spot open in case there are some late transfers,” Neighbors said.

Neighbors cited reserve forward Keiryn Swenson compiling a 4.0 GPA and being honored on the All-SEC Community Service team, to the on the court nucleus he anticipates from returning starters Jailyn Mason, Kiara Williams, Bailey Zimmerman and point guard Malica Monk of North Little Rock, leading Arkansas in scoring, 15.9 average, 122 assists, 50 years, and 1,061 minutes.

“I think Mal had an All-Conference type year,” Neighbors said. “You just aren’t always going to be recognized like that when your team doesn’t finish in the top half of the league. But she had an All-Conference year in my book.”