LITTLE ROCK — New Mexico graduate Vance Jackson wasted not time with his transfer process as he entered the portal on Monday and was instantaneously beamed into the Arkansas Razorbacks basketball program (roughly 48 hours after hitting the portal) by Head Hog Eric Musselman.
Jackson — he’ll have one season of immediate playing eligibility with the Hogs in 2020-21 — delivered his commitment announcement Wednesday afternoon via Twitter, stating: “Can’t wait to hoop at Bud Walton Arena! Let’s Get It!!!! #WPS”
Jackson (6-9, 220, combo forward, native of Pasadena, Calif.) becomes the second New Mexico Lobos player to transfer to Arkansas in the last three years as he joins recently departed junior guard Jalen Harris — he announced he was leaving Arkansas last week as a grad-transfer — who pledged to the previous Arkansas coaching staff as a transfer following his freshman season as a Lobo in ’16-17.
Jackson started all 28 games for New Mexico in ’19-20 and averaged 11.1 points, 5.3 rebounds, 1.3 assists, and 1.0 steals in 27.2 minutes per game while shooting 41.4% field goals (including 50-of-146 from 3 for 34.2%) and 71.4% from the free throw line.
Jackson scored 20 or more points four times in his junior season, and in the Lobos’ only non-conference game against a ranked opponent — an 84-59 loss against then-No. 18 Auburn on Nov. 25 — Jackson registered 10 points and 8 rebounds in 26 minutes. In his most productive game of the season, Jackson put up 29 points and 13 rebounds in a 78-64 win over Fresno State on Jan. 7 (highlights from that game are linked below).
As a sophomore in ’18-19, Jackson started 16 of 32 games and averaged 13.1 points, 7.0 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and 1.1 steals in 27.8 minutes per game while shooting 40.5% field goals (including 57-of-172 from 3 for 33.1%) and 65.0% on free throws. His career high of 30 points was scored in an 81-73 loss to Fresno State on Feb. 16.
Musselman was head coach at Nevada in ’18-19 during Jackson’s sophomore season when he averaged 11.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, 5.5 assists, and 2.0 steals in two contests that the Wolfpack and Lobos split. That included Jackson’s 18-point, 10-rebound, 7-assist, and 3-steal performance in New Mexico’s 85-58 upset win over Musselman’s No. 6 Nevada squad on Jan. 5, 2019.
Jackson began his career as a freshman at UConn in ’16-17, starting 21 times in 32 games while averaging 8.1 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 1.4 assists in 26.1 minutes. He transferred to New Mexico following his freshman season and sat out the ’17-18 season.
Based on current roster numbers and counting the addition of Jackson, Arkansas technically has four scholarships that are open, but assuming the three high school prospects who committed to Arkansas in November all sign their letters of intent as planned in the spring period, that will leave Musselman’s Hogs with one more scholarship to give for the ’20-21 season.
For a team that did not have a single available scholarship player taller than 6-8 in Musselman’s first season at the helm in ’19-20, the Hogs now project at least four players who are 6-9 or taller for the ’20-21 campaign — Jackson, 7-3 sophomore transfer Connor Vanover, 6-9 Abayomi “Baybe” Iyiola, and 6-10 high school commit Jaylin Williams.