By Kevin McPherson

FAYETTEVILLE – Arkansas guard Nick Smith, Jr., missed the 2022-23 season opener against North Dakota State on Monday at Bud Walton Arena.

The freshman from Jacksonville — one of 20 players on the preseason John Wooden Award (national player of the year) watch list — is going through right knee management and was withheld for precautionary measures, according to a source.

The source also told there is no set timetable for Smith’s return, however this is not considered to be serious.

Following Arkansas’ 76-58 win over NDSU on Monday, Head Hog Eric Musselman was asked about Smith’s status.

“I mean, he’s … he’s injured,” Musselman said. “So everything’s kind of irrelevant other than the fact that we got Fordham coming in here and we need to get ready for Fordham and the players that are available, we’ll do all we can to try to have a good couple days of prep.”

Asked if he is concerned about Smith moving forward, Musselman did not specifically discuss Smith.

“I mean, I’m concerned with everybody,” Musselman said. “I’m concerned about a whole bunch of things. I mean, I’m concerned about AB (Anthony Black) getting banged up and (Trevon) Brazile’s back there, I don’t know what he’s grabbing or whatever, but he’s hurt in some way, shape, or form. But we’ll be fine. I mean, we’ve just got to next guy up, you know, whoever is healthy on Friday.”

Musselman talked about other Hogs stepping up while Smith is out.

“We’ll get ready for the next game … that’s all we can do, is continue to try to get better,” Musselman said. “Obviously, roles were really shuffled in a short amount of time. We changed the starting lineup even today. All week we’ve gone with a completely different starting lineup. Two new guys basically in the starting lineup at shoot around. We put Ricky (Council IV) in there at the last minute and I think it really benefitted us.”