By Kevin McPherson
LITTLE ROCK — The Arkansas Razorbacks men’s basketball team is now through three weeks of limited practices since returning to school in late August.
It was another busy week for the program as the team had a specific drill-focused theme while also hosting several recruits over the weekend who attended practice, and just prior to the weekend the team released playing dates for all 18 SEC games.
Here’s the latest …
– Arkansas conducted “lots of press break work last week” as a major “theme” during practices, according to a source. There is more than one way to combat various defensive press schemes, and Head Hog Eric Musselman puts an emphasis each year on his team’s preparation in that regard.
– The Hoop Hogs are about two weeks out from increasing their on-court practice time from the current NCAA-mandated 4 hours per week, which was also the standard during summer limited practices that ran through June and July.
– Arkansas had at least four recruits who were on visits inside the basketball performance center to attend Hoop Hogs practice on Saturday morning before the prospects attended the Football Hogs’ 28-6 win over Kent State later on Saturday afternoon at Razorback Stadium. The group was impressed with what they saw at pracitce (more on that down the page in my Razorbacks recruiting notes).
– With all 18 SEC game opponents already known, Arkansas released the playing dates for each of those matchups on Thursday, Sept. 7, along with all 13 non-conference playing dates. (Hogville article from Thursday, Sept. 7, with all 31 game dates is linked here: https://forums.hogville.net/index.php?topic=756493.0
– For a look at Arkansas’ ’23-24 roster as well as my initial Top 7 player-rotation projections that were published at Hogville as the Hoop Hogs were returning to practice on Aug. 21, click the link: https://forums.hogville.net/index.php?topic=756999.0
* Razorbacks recruiting
Arkansas men’s basketball had a busy visit weekend as the Razorbacks hosted five highly regarded prospects, including one from the class of 2024 who was on an official visit and four others from the class of 2025 who were taking unofficial visits.
Recruits attended the Football Hogs’ 28-6 win over Kent State at Razorbacks Stadium on Saturday afternoon, and most attended the Hoop Hogs’ basketball practice on Saturday morning inside the basketball performance center across the street from Bud Walton Arena. They also took part in photo shoots with Head Hog Eric Musselman.
Here is a breakdown of who made it to campus in Fayetteville with a few reactions to their visits, followed by updates on four more 2024 prospects, a 2025 recruit, and a 2026 recruit …
– 2024 Hog offer and Rivals national No. 35 / 4-star prospect Jalen Shelley (6-8 combo forward, Link Academy in Springfield, Mo.) began his OV on Friday when he arrived late in the afternoon and he wrapped things up with a breakfast with Arkansas coaches on Sunday morning. “My visit has ended well!” Shelley told Hogville (for more on Shelley’s thoughts about his visit, as well as our near-20-minute zoom interview with him on Monday, Sept. 4, click the link the out Hogville article published on Sunday, Sept. 10: https://forums.hogville.net/index.php?topic=758124.0).
– 2025 Hog offer Jai’Chaunn Hayes (6-6 guard, White Hall) enjoyed his UOV experience at Arkansas: “Practice was very up-tempo and full of energy,” Hayes said. “They did many game translating drills and got up plenty of shots. I liked how everyone got along in the gym as well. The (football) game was very energetic and that’s the most amount of people I’ve seen it a long time. They definitely have some of the loyalist fans.”
– 2025 Hog offer and 247Sports national No. 25 / 4-star prospect Terrion Burgess (6-9 combo forward, Benton, 17U Arkansas Hawks) took an unofficial visit to Arkansas on Saturday, during which he had a photo shoot with Musselman and attended the Football Hogs’ game against Kent State in the afternoon. “It was good getting to go see college football, and Arkansas came out with the win,” Burgess said. “Got to take pictures with Coach Muss, and he showed a lot of energy.”
– 2025 Hog offer and national Top 100 / 4-star prospect Bryce Heard (6-6 wing, Homewood Flossmoor High School in Illinois) took an unofficial visit to Arkansas on Saturday, during which he attended Hoop Hogs’ practice in the morning, had a photo shoot with Musselman, and attended the Football Hogs’ game against Kent State in the afternoon. “The visit was good,” Heard said. “It was good to meet all the coaches who are recruiting me. The practice was good, a really fast-paced practice, good to see how Coach Muss runs the system there. We went to the football game, good to experience how the fanbase is. I think so (regarding taking another Arkansas visit), hopefully in the future.” Heard reported his Arkansas offer on Sunday night, and he told Hogville he is constantly in contact with Hoop Hog staffers Ronnie Brewer, Jr., and Anthony Ruta.
– 2025 Hog offer and national Top 50 / 4-star prospect Malachi Moreno (6-11 forward / center, Georgetown, Ky.) took an unofficial visit to Arkansas on Saturday, during which he attended Hoop Hogs’ practice in the morning, had a photo shoot with Musselman, and attended the Football Hogs’ game against Kent State in the afternoon.
– Arkansas was among the final five schools that 2024 Amier Ali (6-8 wing, IMG Academy, 247Sports national No. 45 / 4-star prospect) announced on Sunday as he now begins to schedule official visits. His father, Mohamed Ali, said his son planned to visit Arkansas “very soon. October.” He also said his son would visit all five schools (Hogs, Kentucky, Alabama, Kansas, and Arizona State) on his list, and that they would “will be evaluating” whether or not his son will commit and sign during the November early signing period. He also said his son will not play at IMG Academy in his senior season in 2023-24, and that an announcement on his new high school destination will be made “this week.”
– A source has confirmed that Arkansas coaches had a zoom call with 2024 Hog offer and composite national No. 30 / 4-star prospect Naasir “Naas” Cunningham (6-7 wing, Southern California Academy) “last week.” Cunningham was offered his Arkansas scholarship in June 2022.
– Reminder that as previously reported by Hogville, 2024 Hog offer and 247Sports national No. 22 / 4-star prospect Isaiah Elohim (6-5 guard, Sierra Canyon in Calif.) will take an official visit to Arkansas on Saturday, Sept. 16 (deep-dive article linked here: https://forums.hogville.net/index.php?topic=757333.0). Elohim also has visits planned to USC, Villanova, and Providence.
– Reminder that as previously reported by Hogville, 2026 Hog offer Jacob Lanier (6-6 guard, Maumelle) will take an unofficial visit to Arkansas on Saturday, Sept. 16, and plans to attend the Football Hogs’ home game against BYU, a source told Hogville.
– Reminder that as previously reported by Hogville, 2024 Hog offer and national Top 50 / 4-star prospect Rakease Passmore (6-5 wing, Combine Academy in N.C.) will take an official visit to Arkansas on Oct. 6, according to a source. Passmore, he was offered a scholarship by Arkansas in early July, is set to take at least three official visits in September (Mississippi State, Miami, and LSU).
– Reminder that as previously reported by Hogville, 2025 national Top 60 / 4-star prospect Jermaine O’Neal, Jr. (6-5 wing, Dynasty Prep in Dallas) will take an unofficial visit to Arkansas on Saturday, Oct. 28, and will attend the Hoop Hogs’ charity exhibition game against Big Ten power Purdue at Bud Walton Arena. O’Neal’s famous father is Jermaine O’Neal, Sr., an NBA all-star who went directly to the league from high school. He played for Bill Musselman (Eric Musselman’s father) when the both were with the Portland Trail Blazers (O’Neal as a player and Musselman as an assistant coach).
* Pro Hogs update
– Former Arkansas star and current Milwaukee Bucks forward / center Bobby Portis and Team USA lost to Canada, 127-118 in overtime, on Sunday in the bronze-medal game of the 2023 FIBA World Cup in Manila, Philippines. Portis finished with 14 points (5-of-8 field goals and 4-of-4 free throws), 6 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, and a boxscore plus-6 in 20 minutes in the loss as Team USA finished with a 5-3 record in the event (10-3 if counting the five showcase games prior to World Cup play). In the eight World Cup games, Portis averaged 7.9 points and 4.4 rebounds in 12.9 minutes per game while shooting 64.7% from the field and 86.7% from the free throw line.
– The Charlotte Hornets on Sunday released a video of rookie guard and former Arkansas star Nick Smith, Jr. going through competitive drill work (video highlights linked here: https://twitter.com/hornets/status/1701013847686189288?t=RNesMkkNq8X0Iu8xeRJWFg&s=19). Although he wore jersey No. 00 during NBA Summer League play in July, Smith will officially wear No. 8 as a Hornet.