LITTLE ROCK — Just like he did in wrapping up the four Top 100 nationally ranked in-state hoopers from the class of 2020, Arkansas head coach Eric Musselman is prioritizing the talent-rich in-state class of 2022 prospects, five of which hold Hog offers.
Musselman and his Razorbacks coaching staff were burning up the text and phone lines just after midnight on June 15 — the first day that college coaches could make direct contact with 2022 prospects — and the in-state recruits were among the very first to hear from Arkansas.
Fast-forward to this week, and Musselman and his staff were busy on Monday and Tuesday doing virutal / Zoom meetings with 2022 Hog offers Derrian Ford (6-4 combo guard, Magnolia, national No. 38 / 4-star prospect according to Rivals.com); Nick Smith, Jr. (6-5 combo guard, Sylvan Hills, national No. 42 / 4-star prospect according to Rivals.com); Joseph Pinion (6-6 combo guard, Morrilton, national No. 90 / 4-star prospect according to Rivals.com); Kel’el Ware (6-11 forward / center, North Little Rock, national No. 124 / 3-star prospect according to Rivals.com); and Javion Guy-King (6-5 wing, Little Rock Mills).
Ford and Ware had their meetings with the Hogs’ staff on Monday.
“It was amazing,” Ford said. “We talked about how they could develop me for the NBA and also how to brand myself.”
Ford has picked up offers from Texas Tech and Missouri since June 15 to go with offers he already held from the Hogs, Kansas, Baylor, Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Vanderbilt, Texas A&M, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, TCU, Oklahoma State, Georgia Tech, Wake Forest, Arkansas State, Fresno State, Rice, and Oral Roberts.
“It went great,” Ware said of his Zoom meeting with Arkansas coaches on Monday. “They talked about the facilities, the education, they talked about what the coaches did in the NBA. They talked about that I have an upside — I can score when I’m at the basket, and I’ve got a nice shot in the mid-range.”
Ware — he recorded double-doubles last weekend in a grassroots hoops event in Missouri — has picked up offers from Kansas, Texas Tech, Illinois, and Tulsa since June 15 to go with offers he already held from the Hogs, Virginia Tech, Texas A&M, TCU, UCA, and Alcorn State.
Smith, Pinion, and Guy-King had their meetings with the Hogs’ staff on Tuesday.
“It was good,” Smith said. “They were talking to me about a little bit of their background and how much experience they have with the NBA, how they can get my game to the next level bccause they know what it takes.”
Smith has picked up offers from Alabama, Auburn, Kansas State, Georgetown, Murray State, and St. Louis since June 15 to go with offers he already held from the Hogs, Texas, Florida, Ole Miss, Oklahoma State, St. John’s, DePaul, Tulsa, and Oral Roberts.
“It went well, the whole staff was there,” Pinion said. “They were just showing me their coaching resume and that they are great coaches and a lot of experience in all different leagues and how they can help me after college once I stop playing basketball.”
Pinion has picked up offers from Baylor, Oklahoma, TCU, and Murray State since June 15 to go with offers he already held from the Hogs, Kansas, Ole Miss, Creighton, DePaul, Tulsa, UCA, South Alabama, and Oral Roberts.
“They talked a lot about the program and the experience that the coaches have, that was mostly what the Zoom meeting was about today,” Guy-King said. “Arkansas has shown the most interest contacting me. I talk to Coach Corey (Williams) a lot about the game and the stuff I need to work on … I think it’s a strong connection.”
Guy-King reports offers from Arkansas, Arkansas State, UCA, and Alcorn State.