By Kevin McPherson
LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas native and California-Berkeley freshman-transfer Connor Vanover is set to arrive in Northwest Arkansas late tonight and will begin his official visit tomorrow (Thursday, May 9, through Friday, May 10).
After Arkansas head coach Eric Musselman and Hogs staff coach Anthony Ruta visited him in California on Wednesday, May 1, Vanover (7-foot-3, 225 pounds, stretch-5) visited Vanderbilt on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week. In addition to the Hogs and Commodores, he is considering a return to Cal.
Several high-major programs were interested in bringing Vanover in for a visit, including Maryland. Vanover recently entered the “transfer portal” following Cal’s firing of head coach Wyking Jones– he was 16-47 in two years in Berkeley — and hiring of former Georgia coach Mark Fox.
Vanover is a Little Rock native who played most of his high school career at hometown Baptist Prep — where he helped the Eagles to back-to-back 4A state titles in 2015-16 and ’16-17 — before transferring and competing as a senior at Findlay Prep in Las Vegas, NV, in ’17-18. He signed during the November 2017 early period with Memphis, but after a coaching change the Tigers released him from his letter of intent and he ended up playing his college freshman season last year at Cal of the Pac-12 Conference.
Vanover averaged 7.5 points, 3.0 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks in 17.5 minutes per game while shooting 46.9% field goals, including 35.5% from 3, and 66.7% free throws as a freshman at Cal. He started 15 of the 28 games he played in for the Golden Bears, and he had a strong three-game stretch to close out the regular season by averaging 17.3 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 2.7 blocks in 28.0 minutes per game to lead the team to a three-game winning streak that halted a 16-game losing skid.
On the season, Vanover’s per-40-minute production was strong — 17.1 points, 6.9 rebounds, and 3.4 blocks — at Cal, which finished 8-23 overall and 3-15 for last place in the Pac-12.
* On Tuesday, the Arkansas men’s basketball program formally announced the addition of North Carolina-Wilmington grad-transfer Jeantal Cylla, who committed to the Razorbacks and head coach Eric Musselman on April 20 while on his official visit. Cylla (6-7 forward, averaged 13.7 points and 4.6 rebounds in 2018-19 as a fourth-year junior at UNCW) gave a brief update on when he plans to arrive in Fayetteville to join the Hogs: “At the end of May,” he said on Tuesday. Cylla, a stretch-4 with one season of immediate playing eligibility, is the first visitor and commitment at Arkansas for Musselman, who was hired in early April.
* 2021 Harrison Ingram (6-7 combo forward, St. Mark’s High School in Dallas, YGC36 on the Adidas Gauntlet circuit) reported an Arkansas offer on Friday. “After a great talk with (Hogs assistant coach Corey Williams), I am thankful to say I have received an offer from The University of Arkansas #GoRazorbacks,” Ingram said via Twitter on Friday. Ingram is rated composite national No. 25 / a 5-star prospect according to 247Sports.com.
* According to RecruitLookHoops.com, Arkansas head coach Eric Musselman has offered 2020 Che Evans (6-6 combo forward, composite national No. 132 / 4-star). Evans & his 17U Team Melo squad matched up against Arkansas-based 17U Woodz Elite during the Nike EYBL session in Atlanta (weekend of April 26-28), and Evans finished with 10 points & 2 rebounds in that game.
* Sources confirmed Tuesday, and NBA.com reported today, that former Arkansas big man Daniel Gafford (6-11 F/C, El Dorado) has been invited and will attend the 2019 NBA Draft Combine (Wednesday, May 15, through Sunday, May 19) in Chicago. Gafford is projected to go No. 22 overall in the first round of the 2019 NBA Draft, according to NBADraft.net’s most-recent mock draft that was updated on April 30. Several recent mock drafts project Gafford to be selected anywhere from in the high-teens to the early second round, with his average / aggregate of projections landing in the mid- to late-20s of the first round. Gafford, who left Arkansas as a sophomore following the SEC tournament in March, was honored as University of Arkansas Male Student-Athlete of the Year during the Hogspys Awards ceremony in Fayetteville on May 1. He was named All SEC 1st team and SEC All Defensive team following the ’18-19 season. The 2019 NBA Draft will be held on Thursday, June 20, at the Barclays Center in New York.