Muss can finally discuss the 2020 Arkansas Fantastic Four!

Pig Trail Nation

LITTLE ROCK — Twice in the last five months we put out a Scouting Report (first in November followed by an update in March) on the Arkansas Fantastic Four — a group of 2020 in-state prospects ranked in the national Top 100 that officially became Arkansas Razorbacks in the past week.

As Arkansas head coach Eric Musselman welcomed each player into the fold — via press teleconferences and Instagram livestreams — he had plenty to say about each of his young recruits who will join him for his second season as Head Hog in 2020-21.

It’s the first time since they all came on board as Hog pledges back in November that Musselman has been able to comment on the foursome, which make up the No. 7 recruiting class in the nation.

We’ve added Musselman’s quotes here to see how his observations stack up with each player’s Hogville.net scouting report and projected fit in the program (last updated on March 24), and to serve as a road map for fans curious about the next wave of Hoop Hogs …

* Muss on Moses Moody: “I think just his ability to be a three-level scorer. I think that we loved his size at 6-6. He’s done an incredible job of adding strength and weight. He’s up to 200 pounds now. He’s an extremely underrated offensive rebounder, I think with his stuff around the rim with his flip shots. We all know he’s a great 3-point shooter. His 3-point percentage at Montverde tells you that. We know he’s a very very good free-throw shooter, his percentages tell you that. I think he can be a very good defender with his length. I think he’ll be an excellent rebounder at that small forward/off-guard spot. So, just his versatility. I know for sure what a great teammate he is, how unselfish he is and how he plays the game the right way. He’s got a very high basketball IQ.”

Moody (6-6 shooting guard, Little Rock native, Montverde Academy in Florida, ESPN national No. 38 / 4-star prospect) was a starter and leader for undefeated and national No. 1 Montverde Academy (25-0) … he quietly exceeded expectations on a team loaded with 5-star prospects who are projected as lottery picks as soon as the 2021 NBA Draft … we said back in November that Moody needed to improve ball-handling and mid-range-and-in shot creation, and he averaged less than a giveaway per game (20 total turnovers) with a respectable 2.2:1 assist-to-turnover ratio while shooting a blistering 71.1% from inside the arc, which was second-best on the team while leading all guards … Moody was third on the team in scoring (11.6 points per game), but he led Montverde in effective field goal percentage (70.8%) and free throw percentage (82.6%) … known as a 3-point shooter, Moody delivered making 38-of-81 for 46.9% from distance (led all guards), which is elite-level shooting efficiency … his overall field-goal shooting of 60.1% was tops among guards and third on the team … on a squad with a big, physical backcourt, Moody led the way with 30 offensive rebounds … in the original scouting report, we referred to Moody as an “underrated defender,” and his senior-season stats back up the fact he was a reliable stopper as he had 31 steals (second among the guards), 25 deflections (second among the guards), 16 blocks (second on the team and led all backcourt players), and 4 drawn charges (led the team).

Fit with Eric Musselman and Arkansas: Having digested a full season of what 6-5 guards Mason Jones and Isaiah Joe accomplished with Muss in year one coupled with Moody’s obvious talent and proven production / efficiency, his ceiling appears as high as any incoming Hog in recent memory … Moody’s maturity on and off the floor and his stubborn dedication to playing the game the right way are intangibles that translate to winning as well as attributes that will serve him well as he appears to be on a path to the league sooner rather than later.

* Muss on Jaylin Williams: “Jaylin is another versatile player, one that can play the 4 of the 5, that possesses a well-rounded skill set. He can play on the perimeter; he can space the floor, especially with his 3-ball shooting; and he is a good passer. Jaylin is well coached and, like his former high school teammate Isaiah Joe, knows how to take a charge. He is one of those rare players who can go get a defensive rebound then use his ball-handling ability to bring the ball up the floor … Jaylin has proven what a great passer he is and what a willing passer he is … Jaylin Williams has great court vision.”

Williams (6-10 forward / center, Fort Smith Northside, composite national No. 72 / 4-star prospect) averaged 19.6 points, 12.6 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 2.5 blocks, and 1.1 steals per game in leading Northside (20-10) to a second-place finish in the rugged 6A-Central conference en route to a berth in the 6A state semifinals … Williams finished his 3-year Grizzlies career with 1,216 points (top 5 all-time in school history) and 826 rebounds (tops all-time in school history) … he’s also the school’s all-time leader in rebounds-per-game and rebounds in a season (328 in 2018-19) … Williams was a walking 20-10 hammer as a senior, and his statement game was a 33-point, 11-rebound, 3-steal, 2-block, 1-assist dominating performance going head-to-head against national Top 15 / 5-star prospect and 7-foot North Carolina signee Walker Kessler in December … Williams earned Hogville.net / @ARHoopScoop Arkansas Boys High School Basketball Co-Player of the Year in March … Williams was already good shooting from 3 and putting the ball on the deck to get to the rim, but in the last few months he flashed a new skill of dribbling left or right to set-up a pull-up mid-range game … areas we pinpointed in November as needing improvement were finishing strong around the basket and through contact, and Williams moved the needle in both categories … he also improved footwork defensively which benefitted him both as a drive-stopper and rim-protector.

Fit with Eric Musselman and Arkansas: The match is truly the same as it was when we looked at it back in November, only that the Hogs’ need for a consistent volume rebounder became more and more pronounced as the 2019-20 season played out while Williams proved time and again to be a consistent volume rebounder with space-eating size paired with aggressive determination … offensively, Williams’ gifts as a face-up shooter and passer will complement a roster full of talented guards, another welcome sight for Musselman whose team lacked frontline players with skill … Musselman excels in designing pick-and-pop and pick-and-roll plays, and Williams brings a lot to the table in those scenarios … conditioning is an area that can be improved, and will need to as precision and execution will be expected to earn meaningful playing time at the next level.

* Muss on KK Robinson: “One, he’s a great competitor. Very serious-minded about the game. Really good speed with the basketball. Really unselfish. I mean, when I watched him at Oak Hill he played with some guys who could really score the ball. And he was perfectly content to make his teammates better, to share the ball. He’s got great court vision. He’s really good in transition. He’s a point guard who’s a facilitator. Then defensively he can put great pressure on the ball. He can pick up in the backcourt and turn ball handlers. I think he’s a guy that he’s really good at advance passes. That’s the one thing that when different staff members went to watch him practice at Oak Hill was his ability to lead transition points, both off the bounce and off of advance passes.

Robinson (6-1 point guard, Bryant, Oak Hill Academy in Virginia, composite national No. 71 / 4-star prospect) was the starting point guard and the best two-way player (offense and defense) for an Oak Hill team that finished the season 36-3 and at one time had risen to No. 2 in the nation in ESPN’s Top 25 … playing against a national schedule, Robinson consistently recorded double-doubles (scoring and assists) and actually flirted with recording a couple of quadruple-doubles (points, rebounds, assists, and steals) … statistics aside, a couple of strong performances on national television propelled Robinson into the national spotlight, including his 24-point showing (on 9-of-10 shooting, including 4-of-4 from 3) in late January that earned him a spot on the prestigious Hoop Hall Classic all-tournament team … Robinson has always been a plus-defender verging on being elite in some aspects on that end of the floor, and his offense showed significant maturation as a high school senior, specifically his three-point shooting and explosive rim-runs — the latter of which helped him prove he could aggressively attack a defense against high-level competition … the lefty’s mid-range game also got a boost as he incorporated a variety of hesitation, change-of-pace, and change-of-direction moves to create open looks between the arc and the rim.

Fit with Eric Musselman and Arkansas: After watching Arkansas play without a true floor leader at the 1 combined with seeing Robinson’s steady and effective efforts as a two-way gem, he arguably comes in as the most ready to help at both ends of the floor at the point guard spot … the Hogs had the best three-point field-goal defense in the nation, and a smart, instinctive, hungry defender like Robinson figures to bolster Arkansas’ chances of having another elite perimeter defense … Musselman has said the goal for his offense is to have 200 passes per game, and Robinson will come in with an understanding of his role in promoting good ball movement with the ability to strike from 3, create a mid-range shot, or slash to the cup … Robinson’s friendship and on-court chemistry with Moody is a plus for both to see floor time together. 

* Muss on Davonte “Devo” Davis: “Devo, Davonte Davis is a guy that can play both guard spots and has great length. A guy that’s been committed and excited all the back from November. And somebody that’s got great pride in being a Razorback player. Devo will bring tremendous toughness and versatility to our Arkansas Razorbacks team. We love Devo’s ability to be both a playmaker and a scorer at all three levels. He is an elite free throw attempt player and does a great job finishing through contact. From a defensive perspective, Devo will add a long, athletic defender that can guard multiple positions. He is an exhilarating, exciting point guard that Hog fans will love to watch and teammates will love to play with him.”

Davis (6-4, Jacksonville, ESPN national No. 83 / 4-star prospect) has upside that is oh-so intriguing as Devo brings a swagger, an IT factor, as a big point guard who sees the floor better than any player coming out of the Arkansas high school ranks in some time … oh yeah, he also lived in the gym and stacked muscle in his upper body, allowing him to become one of the best rebounders in the state … Davis averaged 24 points, 11 rebounds, 8 assists, and 3 steals in leading Jacksonville (20-5 overall) to a 13-1 record in the tough 5A-Central conference en route to a spot in the 5A state title game that was suspended due to covid-19 virus concerns … Davis earned Hogville.net / @ARHoopScoop Arkansas Boys High School Basketball Co-Player of the Year in March … Devo recorded multiple triple-doubles during the season … his ability to pass teammates open is truly unique, and though this basketball junkie rarely has his eyes fooled by a pass, Devo has authored a few that have done just that … Davis can beat a defense from anywhere on the court — with a pass or a long-stride coast-to-coast finish … his real-time awareness and feel for the other 9 players on the court — where they’re positioned and where they’re moving to — aids him in navigating tight traffic to set up himself or a teammate for a deuce … the lefty has improved as a three-point shooter — he’s getting more arch on his shot — but it’s still inconsistent, as is his shot IQ (when to take them) … we identified back in November that decision-making and playing off the ball were areas that needed to improve, and they did … Devo’s alpha mentality is not going to produce a mistake-free player, but he was so consistently good at not only putting up big numbers but at being clutch in close-game situations that it led to a near-perfect run through the 5A-Central as well as a march to the state title game, and that does not happen without maturation and floor-leader qualities catching up to his talent.

Fit with Eric Musselman and Arkansas: Musselman likes players with fire and flare, and Davis brings that and then some to the table … another example of a player whose skill set is going to be pliable in pick-and-roll and pick-and-pop scenarios because he’ll be a quadruple-threat — drive, pull-up, pass inside, or pass out — in two-man game … Musselman has noted Davis’s ability to improvise and salvage possessions when a play breaks down due to his court awareness and playmaking ability … Davis will be challenged early with finding a balance between sound decision-making in running the team while incorporating the razzle-dazzle that seems to fuel his energy and effectiveness.

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