Modica: 1000-point home state hoop standout

Jonathan Modica scored more than 1,000 points for his career, earned All-Southeastern Conference honors twice and ranks among Arkansas’ all-time leaders in several categories, but he is known by most Razorback fans for his nickname – “Pookie.”

A four-year letterman from 2003-06, the Smackover, Ark., native played a key role in rebuilding the basketball program and returning the Razorbacks to national prominence.

A starter as a freshman, sophomore and senior, his teams were 9-19 in 2003, 12-16 in 2004, 18-12 in 2005 and 22-10 in 2006 under head coach Stan Heath. The 2006 squad earned an NCAA Tournament bid for Arkansas’ first post-season appearance since the 2001 campaign.

Modica led the team in scoring as a freshman with 11.5 points a game in 2003 as the Razorbacks recorded wins over No. 22 Alabama and No. 20 Mississippi State. He led the team in scoring (16.5) and three-point percentage (.360) as a sophomore, and was a second-team All-SEC selection as the program improved to 12 victories with wins over No. 22 Vanderbilt and No. 25 South Carolina.

He averaged 9.6 points as a junior and led the team with a .520 field goal percentage. He helped the Razorbacks to 18 victories and Arkansas’ first winning season since 2001, including winning the championship of the Paradise Jam in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands.

His senior year, he was second on the team in scoring and fifth in the SEC with 16.1 points per game. He was also sixth in the league in field goal percentage (.473) and 10th in free-throw percentage (.732). A second-team All-SEC selection for the second time in three years, he helped Arkansas to its first 20-win season since 2001, and wins over No. 10 Florida and No. 10 Tennessee in addition to the NCAA Tournament berth.

Modica averaged 13.5 points and 3.9 rebounds for his career. He is 12th on the university’s career charts with 1,589 points, 12th with 555 field goals made, tied for 11th with 326 made free throws and seventh with 153 three-point buckets.

In SEC play only, he is third with 295 field goals, 171 free throws and 94 three-pointers.

His biggest night was Feb. 4, 2006, when he made 11-of-17 shots, including 6-of-9 threes, to score 37 points in a 73-59 victory over South Carolina. That total ties for the 14th-highest single-game mark in school history.

In high school, Pookie, who was given his nickname as a child by his grandmother, was a three-time all-state selection. As a senior, he was regarded as the No. 1 player in the state after averaging 33.2 points, 13.2 rebounds and 3.1 steals in leading Smackover to a 20-7 finish.

A 2007 graduate with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, Modica also earned a master’s degree from Arkansas in journalism in 2008. He is currently pursuing a doctorate at Arkansas in higher education.

The University of Arkansas’ Athletic Department recognizes its heritage and the countless contributions made by African-American student-athletes in all 19 of its varsity sports. The Razorbacks are proud to celebrate this great tradition and recognize some of the inspiring pioneers, great student-athletes and outstanding role models that have worn a Razorback uniform as a part of Black History Month.