LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas Razorbacks head coach Eric Musselman landed another in-state commitment Saturday as highly regarded 2020 big man [b]Jaylin Williams[/b](6-10 forward / center, Fort Smith Northside, composite national No. 69 / 4-star prospect) called to the Hogs.
Williams is the highest-rated in-state front line player to commit to Arkansas since national Top 50 Daniel Gafford of El Dorado pledged to the Hogs in the summer of 2015. Williams chose Arkansas over offers from Oklahoma State, Auburn, Texas A&M, UConn, Iowa State, Illinois, Nebraska, TCU, and others. He was also drawing interest from Kansas, North Carolina, and Duke.
In the end, Williams — he’ll sign his national letter of intent in the spring signing period that begins in mid-April — chose Arkansas over Auburn with Texas A&M and the others on the outside looking in. Williams took an official visit to Auburn the weekend of Nov. 1-3, and he took his last visit to Arkansas on Saturday, Nov. 9. Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl and assistant coach Wes Flanigan were in Fort Smith on Tuesday for Williams’ season-opener.
Arkansas assistant coach Corey Williams will be in North Little Rock later Saturday to watch Williams and Fort Smith Northside play Jacksonville and recent 2020 Arkansas signee
(6-4 point guard, ESPN national No. 79 / 4-star prospect) in the Hoopin’ for Hoodies’ event. Through two games, Williams is averaging 16.0 points, 14.0 rebounds, and 3.0 blocks for the 2-0 Grizzlies.
Williams joins Davis and 2020 Little Rock native and ESPN national No. 29 / 4-star prospect
(6-6 wing, Montverde Academy in Florida) to form Musselman’s current three-player recruiting haul. Next up to announce a commitment is 2020 Hog offer and composite national No. 72 / 4-star prospect
(6-1 point guard, Bryant, Oak Hill Academy in Virginia) , who is set to choose between Arkansas and Kansas on Thanskgiving Day (Thursday, Nov. 28).
“Really, this visit was more about the basketball vision,” Williams said a day after his Nov. 9 stop at Arkansas. “Them showing me stats, and how my stats from my (Nike) EYBL sessions can help them out and how they can help me out in some of my places I struggled with. Coach Musselman was saying how we can make a perfect marriage on the court, bond and work together.
“They envision me as a huge mismatch problem out on the court and playing me at that 4 spot. Saying that I can grab the ball off the rebound and take it up the court and getting into the sets, or I can be the trailer on the play and they can kick it back to me for the shot, or maybe even playing a little bit of the 3 because I’d have a smaller guy on me and can take them down and post them up. They see me as a mismatch player.”
During his visit, Williams attended the Hoop Hogs’ basketball practice.
“It was good, the guys played with a lot of energy out there,” Williams said. “The intensity they play at, I don’t think a lot of colleges do that. You can tell that everybody out there wants to win and play their hardest.”
Williams was at Arkansas’s season-opener on againt Rice on Nov. 5, which turned out to be a 48-point dismantling of the Owls, 91-43, in Musselman’s debut as Head Hog. It was not lost on Williams that the Razorback’s offense generated 254 passes (the goal is always 200) and 19 assists.
“I like a team that’s more about passing the ball around and making sure they’re not getting a good shot, but getting a great shot,” said Williams, who has great hands and is a passing weapon both facing the basket and in the low block. “I think that’s a very important asset. And one of the best parts of my game, or what everybody tells me and what I believe is the best part, is my IQ for a big man. So, I just think passing the ball around like that would be the right fit for my game.”
Prior to his most-recent stop in Fayetteville on Nov. 9, Williams took an unofficial visit to Arkansas in late June, then from early September through early November he spent time interacting with Musselman and his staff multiple times — on Sept. 8 during a photo shoot at Arkansas; a handful more times at Northside when Musselman and his staff routinely stopped in during the NCAA recruiting period that began on Sept. 9; at Arkansas’s annual Red-White game that was played on Oct. 5 at Barnhill Arena; and again for Arkansas’s season-opener against Rice at Bud Walton Arena on Nov. 5.
Williams’s commitment to Arkansas culminates a 7-month-long courtship as Musselman — during his first week on the job in early April — reaffirmed Williams’ scholarship offer made by the previous Arkansas coaching staff.
As a junior in high school (2018-19), Williams averaged a double-double (16 points and 11 rebounds) while leading the Grizzlies to the 6A state title, earning MVP honors after putting up 20 points, 16 rebounds, and 3 blocks in a razor-thin win over Bryant for the championship. Williams’ double-double ways continued through 13 games and 3 sessions playing on the ultra-competitive Nike EYBL circuit this spring, which included him finishing second on the circuit in rebounds per game (10.4) to go with 11.8 points, 1.1 blocks, and 1.0 steals. Williams shot 49-of-104 from the field for 47.1%, including 10-of-17 from 3 for 58.8%.
Williams’ photo op with Musselman on Sept. 8 was part of Musselman’s ongoing playful re-enactment of famous NBA moments that were captured in photographs.
“Just took pictures today,” Williams said on Sept. 8. “It (the photo op) was different. I wasn’t sure at first when they sent me that picture (the NBA version of former players Manute Bol and Mugsy Bogues) before I got there, and when I got there they came in with three basketballs (as seen in the picture posted below) and I knew what we were doing for the photo shoot. It was fun.”