LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas assistant coach Corey Williams started out at Sylvan Hills High School in the morning and finished up at Magnolia High School in the evening as he went on-campus to watch two promising in-state 2022 Hog offers practice on Tuesday.
First up was 2022 Nick Smith, Jr. (6-3 combo guard, Sylvan Hills, national No. 25 / 4-star prospect according to Rivals.com) whose Bears team began practice at 11:25 a.m.
“Comin’ up where I’m from … a lot of people don’t get the opportunity I got, so I’m blessed right now,” Smith said of having Arkansas in to watch him practice on Tuesday.
Smith took an unofficial visit to Arkansas on Aug. 6. He also took an unofficial visit to Texas on Aug. 2. In addition to the Hogs and Longhorns, Smith holds offers from Oklahoma State, St. John’s, Tulsa, and Oral Roberts.
Smith talked about his summer visits.
“I had a few (unofficial visits) scheduled, but some of them I didn’t go to for school purposes,” he said. “First I went to Texas and I got an offer from there, then I went to the University of Arkansas. It was fun, me going with my family and enjoying myself.”
Smith had a strong spring and summer playing up with 16U Brad Beal Elite, leading the team in scoring at 16.0 points per game. He played with BBE’s 15U team at the Nike Peach Jam in mid-July with Arkansas coaches consistently present to watch him lead his team to the semifinals. Between Nike circuit events, Smith was a standout at the prestigous Nike Elite 100 Camp in June, earning praise from several national recruiting analysts. As a freshman at Sylvan Hills in 2018-19, Smith averaged 16.5 points and 6.0 assists per game.
Smith is an alpha-scorer who has great court awareness and feel as a passer and facilitator, and his combination of length, instincts, and competitiveness suggest he can develop into a plus-defender.
After leaving central Arkansas, Williams was off to Magnolia to watch 2022 Derrian Ford (6-3 como guard, Magnolia, national No. 32 / 4-star according to Rivals.com) whose team began practice in the afternoon.
“I’d just like to thank God for giving me the opportunity,” Ford said. “It was a blessing that Coach Corey was able to come down here, it was great having him here. That just let me know they (Arkansas coaches) have strong interest in having me down to Fayetteville (as a future Hog).
“Today was great because it let’s me know that Magnolia, we’re getting looked at by some of the top colleges in the country. Hopefully we can have more colleges come ni and watch us practice.”
Ford was the first of four Class of 2022 prospects who have been offered by Arkansas, and his unofficial visit to Fayetteville on Aug. 2 made him the first recruit from his class to make it to campus. Ford also holds offers from Florida, Baylor, Texas A&M, Alabama, Oklahoma State, TCU, Fresno State, Rice, and Oral Roberts.
According to a source, a coach from North Carolina inquired about Ford on Monday.
“I thank God for every school that’s offered me right now,” ford said. “It’s been a great experience. To be so young and to get all this exposure, it’s just amazing.”
Playing-up an age level for 16U Team South this spring/summer, Ford finished third in the league in scoring (20.4 pts), 10th in field-goal percentage (77-of-148 for 52.0%), and 11th in steals (1.0) to go with 2.0 assists per game.
Arkansas’s entire coaching staff — Musselman, associate head coach Chris Crutchfield, assistant coach Corey Williams (Ford’s lead recruiter at UA), and assistant coach Clay Moser — got to watch and evaluate Ford in person for the first time during the UAA Finals in Atlanta as part of the first July live-evaluation period.
Linked below is a Twitter video interview with Nick Smith, Jr., highlight reels of Smith and Derrian Ford, and a photo from Sylvan Hills practice on Tuesday …