By Kevin McPherson
LITTLE ROCK — The Arkansas Razorbacks may be in the 501 to handle business on Saturday against Texas-San Antonio at Verizon Arena in North Little Rock, but first things first: Hog coaches will be in Conway tonight to check out the future — at least they hope future Razorbacks — with 2020 Arkansas offers Chris Moore and Jaylin Williams going head-to-head when West Memphis takes on Fort Smith Northside in the John Stanton Classic.
“The (Arkansas) coaches showing so much support is really amazing,” Williams said. “West Memphis is a good, talented team. This will be a very good game.”
Williams (6-10 forward / center, Fort Smith Northside, Joe Johnson Hawks 15U/17U in 2018) has been a double-double machine to start the 2018-19 season. Over the past two weekends during events in Missouri and Texas, Williams routinely registered double-doubles, including an impressive outing of 25 points, 13 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, and 1 block in a Grizzlies’ win last Friday over St. Louis (MO) University High School.
With Arkansas head coach Mike Anderson and associate head coach Melvin Watkins in attendance in November, Williams had a double-double in a road win over Fayetteville. A few days prior to that, he had had 21 points, 14 rebounds, 4 assists, and 1 steal matching up against ESPN national No. 59 / 4-star prospect Nick Ongenda, a 6-10 center for Southwest Christian Academy.
In addition to the Hogs, Williams holds offers from Oklahoma State, TCU, Tulsa, and Lamar with Iowa State, Auburn, and others showing interest. He has taken a few unofficial visits since October — twice for Arkansas games and once to Oklahoma State — and he said he plans to schedule one of his junior-season official visits to Arkansas some time in 2019. Williams said he also plans to take an official visit to Oklahoma State some time in 2019.
Williams is the picture of the modern-day big man, possessing soft hands and ball skill (handling and shooting) as a face-up big while also being a volume rebounder and solid rim-protector. He’s a weapon in the high-post as a shooter, passer, and dribble-driver to the cup. He employs a host of smart low-post moves to get to a high-percentage shot.
Arkansas coaches will be watching Moore (6-6 combo forward, West Memphis, Woodz Elite 16U/17U in 2018, composite national 4-star prospect) play for the second time in recent weeks. On Nov. 27, Anderson and Watkins attended a matchup between West Memphis and Little Rock Parkview when Moore finished with 22 points (8-of-14 field goals and 6-of-8 free throws), 14 rebounds, 4 blocks, 1 steal, and 1 drawn charge in the Blue Devils’ 64-62 overtime road loss to the Patriots.
Moore said after that game he was grateful Arkansas coaches were there to watch him: “It makes me feel good to know they were here tonight.”
Moore probably owns the most double-doubles in Arkansas high school basketball covering the past two seasons. In his most-recent outing, Moore had a monster game: 31 points, 10 rebounds, and 6 assists in West Memphis’s 78-67 victory Saturday over highly regarded Putnam (OK) High School.
Moore, who also holds offers from Iowa State, Oklahoma State, Auburn, Memphis, Ole Miss, TCU, SMU, and others, took his first junior-season official visit to Arkansas in September. He has also taken an OV to Auburn, as well as unofficial visits to Ole Miss, Memphis, and Iowa State. He plans to take another unofficial visit to Arkansas, likely in 2019 during the current basketball season.
Moore is a chiseled, determined, relentless-motor player who impacts the game at both ends of the floor. He can turn a defensive rebound into a one-man fast break because of his versatility as an open-court handler. His quickness and explosiveness in the paint wears down defenders as he finds good finishing angles when he’s not dunking the ball.
Arkansas’s recent success recruiting and developing big men — Bobby Portis, Moses Kingsley, and Daniel Gafford — establishes a proven resume as the Razorbacks’ coaching staff pursues Moore, Williams, and other frontline players.
Hogs-vs-UTSA recruiting roll call
Several Arkansas recruits and prospects of interest will be in attendance Saturday when the Razorbacks take on the Texas-San Antonio Roadrunners at Verizon Arena in North Little Rock …
— New Arkansas signee and 2018 Gatorade Arkansas High School Football Player of the Year Justice Hill (5-11 point guard, Little Rock Christian Academy, Joe Johnson Hawks in 2018) will be at the game. Hill will join the Hoop Hogs in about a week as an early enrollee, and though he will be eligible to play, the plan (at least as it is now) will be for him to practice only and then begin his playing career as a freshman in the ’19-20 season.
— 2021 Arkansas target Jalen Ricks (6-5 combo guard, Sylvan Hills, Joe Johnson Hawks) will be at the game. Ricks holds offers from Oklahoma State and TCU with Arkansas, Indiana, Texas A&M, Michigan, and Auburn showing strong interest. Ricks recently named Arkansas his leader, he took an unofficial visit to Fayetteville in October, and Anderson and Watkins watched him practice at Sylvan Hills on Sept. 27.
— 2022 Arkansas interest Nick Smith, Jr. (6-3 combo guard, Sylvan Hills, Joe Johnson Hawks) will be at the game. Smith Jr. recently had a 36-point game for Sylvan Hills, and he leads the team in assists. According to a source who spoke Thursday about Smith, Jr.’s and Arkansas’s mutual interest: “Though Nick can’t do anything unofficial or official (due to his high school freshman status), they have expressed great interest. Nick loves their playing style and the culture of winning they have built in Fayetteville.”
— 2019 Arkansas interest Tim Ceaser (6-8 forward, Marion, Joe Johnson Hawks in 2018) will be at the game. Ceaser had as ben a big part of Marion’s early success that includes wins over Bryant, Little Rock Mills, and Little Rock Parkview. He had 11 points, 16 rebounds, and 8 blocks in Marion’s double-digit-margin win over Parkview just a few weeks ago. He said Arkansas coaches have maintained contact with him.
— 2020 Detrick Reeves, Jr. (6-2 shooting guard, Marion, Team South in 2018) will be at the game. Reeves unofficially visited Arkansas, Baylor, Oklahoma State, and other schools last year, and he holds offers from Arkansas State and Southern Miss. According to a source, Arkansas is beginning to express renewed interest.
— 2021 Jacksonville Titans and Joe Johnson Hawks Ryan Maxwell, Jr. (6-5 combo forward) and Jordan Maxwell (6-4 wing) will be at the game. Both players have been evaluated by coaches from Arkansas, Auburn, Oklahoma State, TCU, and others.
2019 Javon Franklin update
2019 Arkansas offer Javon Franklin (6-7 combo forward, Holmes, MS, Community College by way of Little Rock Parkview) confirmed last Saturday that he expects to be off his crutches in a “few weeks” and that he believes he will take his official visit to Arkansas “in January, maybe February.”
Franklin broke his leg in Holmes’ season-opener more than six weeks ago, and after he was given a three-month recovery prognosis he decided to redshirt in ’18-19, meaning he will have three years of playing eligibility at the NCAA Division 1 level beginning in ’19-20. Franklin is being recruited by Arkansas, Memphis, Auburn, Ole Miss, Kansas State, Georgetown, Seton Hall, Wichita State, and San Diego State among others.
Franklin has always maintained that Arkansas is at or near the top of his wish list, and he confirmed that to still be the case last Saturday.