LITTLE ROCK — In a year’s time on the job Arkansas head coach Eric Musselman has had success recruiting both in-state prospects (he landed four national Top 100 commits for the 2020 class) and the transfer portal (he brought in six college transfers), and now he and his staff have reached out to a versatile combo guard in Arkansas native and Minnesota grad-transfer Payton Willis, a former Fayetteville High School star who on Thursday announced his plans to transfer and confirmed his interest in possibly coming home to Arkansas for his senior season.
“They have,” Willis said when asked if he had heard from Arkansas, adding “that’d be cool” when asked about coming home to finish his college career.
Willis (6-4, 200) — whose first two seasons of college basketball were in the SEC at Vanderbilt before transferring to Minnesota of the Big 10 — said he’s also heard from Marquette, Auburn, Ole Miss, Xavier, DePaul, and Rhode Island. He’ll have one season of immediate playing eligibility in 2020-21.
Willis started 25 of 27 games in 2019-20 and averaged 8.9 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 2.0 assists in 30.4 minutes while shooting 38.2% from the field (including 35.6% from 3) and 75.0% from the free thow line.
If Willis were to land at Arkansas, he’d be Musselman’s second college-transfer to come home to be a Razorback as just over a year ago Little Rock native Connor Vanover transferred from Cal to Arkansas.
The Hogs have a recent commitment from New Mexico grad-transfer Vance Jackson as part of Musselman’s current five-player 2020 recruiting class that is currently ranked No. 7 in the nation.
With the addition of Jackson, and based on current roster numbers and the expectation that three committed high school pledges will sign in the spring period as planned, Musselman and the Hogs still have one scholarship to give for the ’20-21 season, and with the departures of guards Mason Jones, Jimmy Whitt, Jr., and Jalen Harris, it stands to reason Musselman and staff are looking to add another piece to the backcourt puzzle.
Linked below are highlights from Minnesota’s February 2020 conference game against eventual Big 10 champion Wisconsin in which Willis scored 21 points.