By Kevin McPherson
LITTLE ROCK — The Arkansas Razorbacks and Western Kentucky freshman-transfer Galen “Tolu” Smith III have mutual interest and a visit may be coming soon, according to a source who first spoke about the situation Friday night just hours after Smith entered the transfer portal.
On Monday, Corey Evans of Rivals.com reported source information via Twitter that in addition to the Hogs, “LSU, Texas A&M & WVU are among the group of schools involved” for Smith, and that he “could potentially visit all four before committing.”
Barring the NCAA granting a waiver for immediate playing eligibility, Smith will have to sit out a transfer-redshirt season in 2019-20 before having three years of playing eligibility beginning in ’20-21.
Playing a back-up role to fellow freshman big man and former 5-star recruit Charles Bassey, Smith (6-10, 240, Bay St. Louis, MS, native) appeared in 34 games for the Hilltoppers as a freshman in ’18-19, averaging 10.1 minutes, 3.3 points, and 2.6 rebounds while shooting 58.3% from the field (42-of-72) and 57.1% from the free throw line (28-of-49).
Ironically, two of Smith’s best performances in ’18-19 came in Western Kentucky road wins in non-conference play against two of the teams reportedly interested in him now. He finished with 9 points, 2 rebounds, and 1 assist in 9 minutes in a 63-57 win at West Virginia on Nov. 16, then he tallied 6 points (on 3-of-4 field goals) and 4 rebounds in 7 minutes in a 78-77 victory at Arkansas on Dec. 8.
The Mississippi native transferred to Kahuku High School in Hawaii for his senior season in ’17-18. After signing his national letter of intent with Western Kentucky in the mid-November early period, Smith went on to earn All-Hawaii D1 Boys Basketball Player of the Year honors after averaging 21.2 points, 10.3 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks per game. As a junior at Bay High School in Mississippi in ’16-17, Smith averaged 13.8 points, 8.7 rebounds, and 2.1 blocks per game.
If Arkansas was to pursue and eventually land Smith, it would mark head coach Eric Musselman’s sixth transfer addition to the roster since taking over the program on April 7.
On Monday, the Razorbacks gained the pledge of Stetson sophomore-transfer Abayomi Iyiola (6-9 forward / center), who joined North Carolina-Wilmington grad-transfer Jeantal Cylla (6-7 forward who committed to the Hogs on April 20 during his visit to Arkansas); California-Berkeley freshman-transfer and Little Rock native Connor Vanover (7-3 stretch-5 who visited Arkansas on May 9-10 before committing to the Hogs on May 15); Jacksonville sophomore-transfer JD Notae (6-2 guard who visited Arkansas on May 14-15 and committed to the Hogs on May 22); and SMU grad-transfer Jimmy Whitt, Jr. (6-3 combo guard who visited Arkansas on May 26 and committed a day later) to form a five-player transfer haul in Musselman’s initial signing class at Arkansas.
Currently, Arkansas is full at the maximum allowable 13 scholarships.
Linked below is a highlight reel of Galen “Tolu” Smith, III, from his senior season in high school … he has plus ball-handling and face-up skill for a big.