LITTLE ROCK — The chase for Kerry Blackshear, Jr., continues this week as the Arkansas Razorbacks target and ESPN’s national No. 1 grad-transfer will reportedly begin an official visit to Kentucky on Tuesday.
A source said Saturday that Blackshear (6-10, 250, forward / center, second-team All ACC as a fourth-year junior at Virginia Tech in 2018-19) would visit Kentucky “early in the week“ and that Memphis, Texas A&M, and Gonzaga were in line as “possible“ destinations for his final two official visits. Blackshear took an unofficial visit to Florida on June 6 before his official visit to Arkansas the weekend of June 8-9 — the latter was described by sources as a “great“ visit for Blackshear, who was accompanied on the trip by his mother.
Blackshear took an official visit to Tennessee over the weekend, and reports are circulating on social media that he may be close to announcing a decision. But following an expected Kentucky visit, Blackshear would have two more official visits to take if he chooses to use his NCAA maximum of five OVs. New Texas A&M head coach Buzz Williams was Blackshear’s coach at Virginia Tech, so the Aggies may be in position to land a visit. Memphis and second-year head coach Penny Hardaway currently boast the nation’s No. 1 recruiting class for 2019, and adding Blackshear would infuse proven production and talent with incoming top-shelf freshmen. Gonzaga has been interested in Blackshear since he entered the transfer portal. He’s also considering a return to Virignia Tech under new head coach Mike Young.
Arkansas coaches have been involved with Blackshear since he entered his name in the transfer portal in April, and during the NCAA “recruiting period“ (April 29-May 2) Hogs assistant coach Corey Williams visited Blackshear, who had also entered the NBA Draft pool before withdrawing and announcing on May 29 that he would return for his senior season of college. A starter in all 35 games last season, Blackshear averaged 29.9 minutes, 14.9 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 2.4 assists while shooting 50.8% field goals (including 33.3% on 21-of-63 from 3) and 73.6% free throws for the Hokies, who finished 26-9 after losing to ACC foe Duke in the Sweet 16 of the 2019 NCAA tournament.
More grad-transfer possibilities for Arkansas: Razorbacks head coach Eric Musselman is considering adding to his spring haul of four total transfers — of which two are grad-transfers — as a couple of new names emerged on Arkansas’s players-of-interest radar last weekinTyler Scanlon of Boston University and Kelvin Jones of Idaho State, a source confirmed on Wednesday.
Scanlon (6-7, 215, forward, native of Centreville, VA) put his name in the transfer portal on June 7, and according to reporting by ESPN’s Jeff Borzello he’s already heard from Florida, Wisconsin, Georgia, Illinois, Minnesota, St. Louis, George Washington, Richmond, and Belmont in addition to the Hogs. Scanlon averaged 13.8 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 3.3 assists while shooting 46.2% field goals (including 34.2% from 3) and 80.0% free throws through 32 games for the Terriers during his junior season in 2018-19. In his three-year career at Boston U., Scanlon played in a total of 95 games, averaging 10.8 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 2.5 assists. He will have immediate playing eligibility in ‘19-20.
Jones (6-11, 230, center) announced in late April that he was entering the transfer portal. He visited Creighton over the weekend, and in addition to the Hogs he reportedly has drawn interest from Virginia Tech, St. John’s, Georgia, Oregon, Oregon State, Washington State, Wake Forest, DePaul, Missouri State, and Boise State. Jones averaged 9.9 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks while shooting 55.3% from the field and 65.7% free throws in 20.0 minutes per game as a fourth-year junior for Idaho State in 2018-19. His per-40-minute numbers were outstanding — 19.8 points, 11.2 rebounds, and 3.0 blocks.Jones redshirted in ’17-18 after transferring from Texas-El Paso, where as a sophomore in ’16-17 he averaged 12.7 minutes, 3.4 points, and 3.7 rebounds. He played at Odessa (TX) College junior college as a freshman in ’15-16. He will have immediate playing eligibility in ‘19-20.
Updates on a trio of 2020 Arkansas targets: With the mid-November early signing period five months away, the Razorbacks’ new coaching staff continues to extend offers while building relationships with prospects as a lead-up to setting up visits and ultimately earning commitments …
* 2020 Jamille Reynolds (6-9 forward / center, Lakeland High School in Florida, 17UNightrydas Elite on Nike EYBL circuit, ESPN national No. 98 / 4-star prospect) on Friday announced his “Final 5“ schools via Twitter — Arkansas, Florida, Miami, South Carolina, and Central Florida. Reynolds, who picked up his Arkansas offer in May, said he’s been talking to Hogs assistant coach Corey Williams and staff coach Anthony Ruta and that he wanted “to visit“ Arkansas in June but may have to wait as he’s still working out visit details.
* 2020 Jonathan Aku (6-10 forward / center, iSchool Academy in Texas, 17U Texas Impact, national Top 100 / 4-star prospect) confirmed he received an Arkansas offer over the weekend: “Talked to coach (Corey) Williams and he offer me yesterday (Sunday),“Aku said. “Just looking forward to knowing the head coach (Eric Musselman) and staff at Arkansas, and will go from there.“ Arkansas’s entire coaching staff got to see Aku play Thursday and Friday at the prestigious NBPA Top 100 Camp in Charlottesville, VA. Two years ago, Aku played for Arkansas-based 15U Team South along with 2020 Arkansas offer, Little Rock native, and ESPN 5-star shooting guard Moses Moody.
* 2020 Che Evans(6-6 wing / small forward, Neumann-Goretti in Philadelphia, 17U Team Melo on Nike EYBL circuit) was looking to reschedule a planned June 8-9 visit to Arkansas for later in June, but on Thursday he confirmed that he’s now looking to visit Arkansas in August. Evans picked up his Arkansas offer in May, and he has a list seven shools that he’s down to — the Hogs, Texas Tech, Florida, Ohio State, TCU, San Diego State, and Boise State. Evans took an official visit to Boise State in November and he’s scheduled a visit to San Diego State in late June.
If no other additions or departures, Arkansas’s scholarship numbers “work“: There has been a lot of speculation about Arkansas being over the maximum of 13 scholarship players for 2019-20, but according to a source within the Arkansas athletic department thecurrent roster numbers “work“ heading into next season. Assuming that current scholarship players who are medically cleared to play do not transfer or go off scholarship to a walk-on status, it appears that redshirt sophomore-to-be Khalil Garland is moving to a medical hardship beginning with the fall semester, which would result in his athletic scholarship coming open. If that is indeed the case, then as it stands now Arkansas would have 13 on athletic scholarship: senior forward Adrio Bailey, senior-transfer forwardJeantalCylla, senior-transfer point guard Jimmy Whitt, Jr., junior forward Gabe Osabuohien, junior point guard Jalen Harris, junior wing Mason Jones, junior-transfer combo guard J.D. Notae(will sit out ‘19-20), sophomore shooting guard Isaiah Joe, sophomore combo guard Desi Sills, sophomore forward Reggie Chaney, sophomore forward Ethan Henderson, sophomore-transfer center Connor Vanover(will sit out ‘19-20 unless granted a hardship waiver), and redshirt-freshman guard Justice Hill.
Daniel Gafford update with 2019 NBA Draft fast-approaching (Thursday night at Barclays Center in New York): Former Arkansas big man Daniel Gafford (6-11 forward / center, El Dorado native) worked out for at least seven NBA teams — Detroit (picks No. 15 in first round and No. 45 in second round), Oklahoma City (pick No. 21 in first round), Atlanta (picks No. 8 in the first round and Nos. 35, 41, and 44 in the second round), Charlotte (picks No. 12 in the first round and Nos. 36 and 52 in the second round), Utah (picks No. 23 in the first round and No. 53 in the second round), Chicago (picks No. 7 in first round and No. 38 in second round), and Indiana (picks No. 18 in first round and No. 50 in second round). Gafford also worked out in front of representatives from 17 NBA teams during a Pro Day in Miami in early June, and he took part in the Draft Combine in Chicago in May.
Gafford is generally projected to be selected anywhere from mid first round to early second round. He entered the draft pool following a sophomore season in 2018-19 in which he led the Hogs and was top 5 in the SEC in scoring (16.9 points per game), rebounding (8.7), blocked shots (2.0), and field goal percentage (66.0%). A consensus All SEC first team selection last season, Gafford is expected to be the first Razorback drafted since 2015 when Little Rock native and 2014-15 SEC Player of the Year Bobby Portis was selected 22nd overall in the first round by the Chicago Bulls.