By Kevin McPherson
LITTLE ROCK — With offers stacking up and the bluebloods starting to show interest, 2020 Arkansas offer Jaylin Williams (6-10 forward / center, Fort Smith Northside, 17U Woodz Elite, national No. 67 / a 4-star prospect according to Rivals.com) is having a busy spring and summer. But for one day he set aside his regular routine to make the 45-minute trek from Fort Smith through the Boston Mountains for an unofficial visit with the Arkansas Razorbacks in Fayetteville on Wednesday.
“He said he likes my length — and players with length in general — but especially my high IQ on the court and my ability to play inside and out,” Williams said of his conversation with Arkansas head coach Eric Musselman, who reaffirmed Williams’ Hog offer from the previous coaching staff in early April just days after accepting the job as Head Hog.
Williams, who’s lead recruiter at Arkansas is assistant coach Corey Williams, said Arkansas coaches had more to say about his game and fit in their system.
“They said they like playing positionless basketball, and they like how I can handle the ball and make plays both against smaller and bigger players,” Williams said. “They just said they can see me fitting in really well with how they like to play, and they want to keep the in-state talent home.”
Williams, who in addition to the Hogs holds offers from Oklahoma State, Auburn, Texas A&M, UConn, TCU, Illinois, Nebraska, and Tulsa, has also been hearing from some of the biggest name-brand schools in college basketball.
“I’ve been talking to coaches from North Carolina and Duke,” said Williams, whose first official visit was to Oklahoma State in early June.
Williams was evaluated by Arkansas coaches during the late-April Nike EYBL session in Atlanta, and the Hogs’ staff paid him a visit on Northside’s campus a few days later. He had taken multiple unofficial visits to Arkansas’s campus in the past, but today was the first time Williams has done so with the new coaching staff in place.
“They showed me around some,” Williams said. “I got to see some stuff that I didn’t get to see with the last coaching staff — just some of where the coaches offices were, the film room, stuff like that.”
Williams said he’ll “most likely” take two of his official visits to Arkansas and Auburn, and his timeframe for those and other visits is “probably during basketball season” but “maybe” as soon as August.
Williams also talked about what he got out of his interaction with the coaches and watching the Hogs’ practice on Wednesday.
“It went good seeing & meeting all the coaches,” he said. “I like the way they do things up there. Like how aggressive and competitive their practices are.”
One new Hog in particular caught Williams’ eye.
“Everybody looked good, but he (grad-transfer Jeantal Cylla) looked like a really aggressive guy. He played with a high motor and was dunking a lot.”
As a junior in high school (2018-19), Williams averaged a double-double (scoring and rebounding) 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).