LITTLE ROCK — The recruiting process is winding down for 2020 Hog offer Jaylin Williams, and it could be that his Saturday trip to Fayetteville for a visit to Arkansas will be his last stop before committing to a school in the next couple of weeks.
Williams (6-10 forward / center, Fort Smith Northside, composite national No. 69 / 4-star prospect) said he is down to the Hogs and Auburn.
“Commitment is going to come soon,” Williams said on Sunday. “Within the next couple of weeks.”
Williams took official visits to Oklahoma State (in June) and Auburn (Nov. 1-3), and he has cancelled a scheduled OV planned for Texas A&M next weekend.
Williams was not certain about when he’ll sign his national letter of intent — either the early period that runs Nov. 13-20 or the spring period that begins in mid-April — but he’s leaning toward signing in the spring.
“I’m still thinking I’ll sign late,” Williams said. “Signing early has crossed my mind a little bit, but I’m most likely signing late.”
Williams said the proximity from Fort Smith to Fayetteville — roughly a 45-minute drive — is a nice convenience but will not be the determining factor in his decision.
“Of course I want my family to be able to watch me play and all, but that’s not a major factor,” Williams said. “It’s about what college can help me make it to that next level and make me a better player, help me be the best I can be.”
Williams has been on Arkansas’s campus multiple times in the past couple of months — and the Hogs coaching staff has been to Fort Smith to see him almost weekly in the same time span — but Saturday’s return to Fayetteville offered Williams another chance to get to the heart of the basketball operations in first-year head coach Eric Musselman’s program.
“Really, this visit was more about the basketball vision,” Williams said. “Them showing me stats, and how my stats from my (Nike) EYBL sessions can help them out and how they can help me out in some of my places I struggled with. Coach Musselman was saying how we can make a perfect marriage on the court, bond and work together.
“They envision me as a huge mismatch problem out on the court and playing me at that 4 spot. Saying that I can grab the ball off the rebound and take it up the court and getting into the sets, or I can be the trailer on the play and they can kick it back to me for the shot, or maybe even playing a little bit of the 3 because I’d have a smaller guy on me and can take them down and post them up. They see me as a mismatch player.”
Williams was at Arkansas’s season-opener on Tuesday againt Rice, which turned out to be a 48-point dismantling of the Owls, 91-43, in Musselman’s debut as Head Hog. It was not lost on Williams that the Razorback’s offense generated 254 passes (the goal is always 200) and 19 assists.
“I like a team that’s more about passing the ball around and making sure they’re not getting a good shot, but getting a great shot,” said Williams, who has great hands and is a passing weapon both facing the basket and in the low block. “I think that’s a very important asset. And one of the best parts of my game, or what everybody tells me and what I believe is the best part, is my IQ for a big man. So, I just think passing the ball around like that would be the right fit for my game.”
Williams attended a portion of Arkansas’s football game against Western Kentucky, and he also attended the Hoop Hogs’ basketball practice.
“It was good, the guys played with a lot of energy out there,” Williams said of practice. “The intensity they play at, I don’t think a lot of colleges do that. You can tell that everybody out there wants to win and play their hardest.”
As a junior in high school (2018-19), Williams averaged a double-double (16 points and 11 rebounds) 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) to go with 11.8 points, 1.1 blocks, and 1.0 steals. Williams shot 49-of-104 from the field for 47.1%, including 10-of-17 from 3 for 58.8%.