LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas currently has a question mark regarding whether or not there will be an available scholarship for the 2020-21 season as sophomore star guard Isaiah Joe is still considering his NBA Draft options. And as he’s consistently shown he’ll do in an environment of constant roster movement in college basketball, head coach Eric Musselman continues to recruit as though he’s got roster spots to fill.
The latest examples are two big men who recently trimmed their college wish lists with Arkansas still in the mix.
Versatile Evansville sophomore-transfer DeAndre Williams (6-9, 195, combo forward, Houston native) has Arkansas in his Final 4 that also includes Kentucky, Baylor, and Memphis, according to multiple media reports. Williams, who has also declared for the 2020 NBA Draft but has not hired an agent, is expected to announce a college commitment later this week.
Williams averaged 15.2 points, 6.9 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and 1.0 blocks in 18 games in ’19-20. He recorded 5 double-doubles, including a 37-point, 10-rebound outing in a win over Miami (Ohio). Williams reportedly had heard from more than 30 schools, including Arizona State, Creighton, Georgetown, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Mississippi State, Misssouri, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Ole Miss, and San Diego State.
Re-classified 2020 Frank Anselem (6-10, 220, forward / center, Prolific Prep in California, composite national No. 114 / 4-star prospect) announced via Twitter on Friday his Final 6 schools: Arkansas, Kentucky, Syracuse, Seton Hall, Western Kentucky, and San Diego State.
When Arkansas offered Anselem a scholarship in August 2019, he was ranked in the national Top 60 for the class of 2021. He announced he was re-classifying to 2020 in mid-April and at the time he also released his Final 3 schools — Alabama, Georgia, and LSU — but shortly thereafter he rescinded that list to re-open his recruitment.
Anselem had a virtual with Musselman and assistant coach Clay Moser just prior to announcing his Final 6 schools on Friday.
Upon receiving his Arkansas offer in early August, Anselem said “Arkansas is pretty cool. I’ve been talking to (assistant coach) Corey Williams
The Hogs currently have six frontline players for the ’20-21 season: 6-9 senior grad-transfer Vance Jackson, Jr.; 6-8 juniors-to-be Ethan Henderson and Reggie Chaney, who both have SEC playing experience; 6-8 junior-to-be Abayomi “Baybe” Iyiola who sat out in ’19-20 after transferring from Stetson; 7-3 sophomore-to-be Connor Vanover who sat out in ’19-20 after transferring from Cal; and 2020 signee in 6-10 freshman-to-be Jaylin Williams.
Arkansas also has been in contact with a couple of transfer guards who still have not committed to a school.
Holy Cross freshman-transfer and the 2020 Patriot League Rookie of the Year Joe Pridgen (6-5, 210, guard, native of Winchendon, MA) has spoken directly with Musselman, and according to reporting by Jon Rothstein of CBA Sports Pridgen has also heard from Loyola-Chicago, Rhode Island, Northeastern, James Madison, San Diego, Richmond, Grand Canyon, and Illinois-Chicago.
Pridgen started 29 of 30 games in 2019-20 and averaged 17.4 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 2.2 assists in 35.2 minutes while shooting 55.8% from the field (including 12-of-28 from 3 for 42.9%) and 58.1% from the free throw line on a Holy Cross team that finished last in the Patriot League (3-29 overall, 2-16 in league play).
Pridgen scored 20-plus points 14 times, including 30-plus points twice. In the Crusaders’ only game against a ranked team — at then-No. 7 Maryland in the season opener on Nov. 5 — Pridgen had 12 points, 8 rebounds, and 3 assists in a 96-71 loss.
Barring an NCAA hardship waiver for immediate playing eligibility or a rules change to grant first-time transfers a one-time waiver for immediate eligibility, Pridgen will sit out a transfer-redshirt season in 2020-21 with three years to play beginning in ’21-22.
Miami (OH) junior-transfer guard Nike Sibande (6-4, 185, native of Indianapolis, IN) was contacted by Arkansas since entering the transfer portal last week, with Kentucky and a host of other high-major programs also showing interest.
Sibande started 30 of 31 games in ’19-20 and averaged 13.9 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 1.7 assists in 28.7 minutes per game while shooting 44.0% from the field (including 33-of-103 from 3 for 32.0%) and 82.0% from the free throw line. His minutes and scoring (16.1 points per game as a sophomore, 15.1 points per game as a freshman) were in a decline as a junior, but his overall field goal shooting and free throw shooting percentages were imrpoved in his third season.