By Kevin McPherson
LITTLE ROCK — It’s the Arkansas Razorbacks annual Red/White game, it’s a week away (2 p.m. CT, Sunday, Oct. 16), it’s back at Barnhill Arena in Fayetteville, and as always it represents the first dress rehearsal of the season in terms of a game-like atmosphere in front of Hoop Hog fans.
Sure, fans got a sneak peak at Arkansas with four European exhibition games in August that were pay-per-view live-streamed, but what has become an annual event inside venerable Barnhill Arena will give thousands of loyal Hog-callers their first in-person look at the team.
Since the arrival of Eric Musselman, who’s entering his fourth season as Head Hog, both of the previous Red/White intrasquad scrimmages (no game in 2020-21 due to the covid-19 pandemic) were played to cozy but hearty crowds — 5,000 or so fans attended in each of ’19-20 and ’21-22.
“This is a free event!” Musselman announced via Twitter on Sunday. “First come first serve seating!”
Like it was last year, the Red/White game will be live-streamed via SEC Network Plus. It’s free admission and free parking. Doors open at 1 p.m.
Former Hogs Isaiah Joe, Jaylin Williams, Connor Vanover, JD Notae, Stanley Umude, and Au’Diese Toney all had strong performances in recent Red/White games, which in most of those cases foreshadowed big things to come in the regular season in terms of production and roles.
Arkansas men’s basketball has yet to release the ’22-23 Red/White team rosters, but in the past Musselman has rotated players in-game from one team roster to the other.
The event has also presented an opportunity for the coaching staff to invite unofficial visitors over the years, which should be the case once again.
* Pro Day a big success: Roughly 40 NBA scouts from exactly 29 NBA teams — and at least one front-office executive in William (World Wide Wes) Wesley, executive vice president and senior basketball advisor with the New York Knicks — were on hand inside the Razorbacks’ basketball performance center on Wednesday to watch the 13 scholarship Hoop Hogs go through a full practice, including 5-on-5 scrimmaging.
“(Pro Day) went well,” an Arkansas bench coach told Hogville. “Guys played hard.”
Some of the scouts who attended shared their Pro Day takeaways with Hogville.net, including assessments that freshmen Nick Smith, Jr., Anthony Black, and Jordan Walsh, as well as sophomore transfer Trevon Brazile and junior transfer Ricky Council IV, all looked the part of future professional players with a range of projections as NBA Draft locks or NBA Draft potentials. Junior guard Davonte “Devo” Davis and Barry Dunning, Jr., also elicited positive feedback.
One scout took notice of Walsh’s defense throughout the day, referring to his three steals during 5-on-5 scrimmaging, while also pointing out that Council consistently rose up to knock down mid-range shots in the face of tight defensive pressure.
The consensus was the three-point shooting was not good, which was a theme during the Euro-tour in August as well as limited practices throughout September, but that did not detract from the individual talent and development upside on display throughout the pro day.
“It was just one practice, nobody with draft projections did anything to hurt themselves,” a scout told Hogville.
So, what stood out? And regardless if it’s the next draft or down the road, how many draft picks did you see on the floor?
“The size and athleticism (stood out),” the scout said. “There should be several (future NBA draft picks).”
It was a mixed bag regarding feedback on how valuable the Euro tour results were in evaluating the current Hogs, with one scout saying it was “not at all helpful” for a variety of reasons.
Linked are cut-up highlights from Pro Day posted to Twitter by Musselman / Arkansas men’s basketball (https://twitter.com/EricPMusselman/status/1578153899701448705?s=20&t=L2MGeKSwz3BEuqLCaB2YqQ).
* Arkansas will add a Division II opponent to its 2022-23 exhibition-game schedule: In addition to playing on the road against Texas in a charity exhibition game on Sunday, Oct. 29, the Hoop Hogs will also play an exhibition game at home against an NCAA Division II opponent, according to a source. With the 31-game regular season (13 non-conference games and 18 SEC games) plus the aforementioned Red-White intra-squad scrimmage and Texas exhibition game all formerly announced, the men’s basketball program should release details soon on the opponent and playing time / date for the second and final exhibition game. Here is our recent Hogville.net article detailing the Razorbacks’ ’22-23 schedule (https://forums.hogville.net/index.php?topic=744358.0).
* Start of NBA training camp sends Hogs coaching staff in search of new tricks: We took notice last week that a slew of Arkansas hoops staffers — at least eight by our count (Musselman, Keith Smart, Gus Argenal, Anthony Ruta, Ronnie Brewer, Jr., Michael Musselman, Caleb Cline, and Matt Lopez) — had fanned out to catch various NBA training camp practices, prompting a Razorbacks bench coach to tell Hogville on Monday (Oct. 3): “Arkansas has been to a lot of NBA camps for new drills.”
This is nothing new at Arkansas since Musselman took over the program in 2019. In the past couple of weeks, Hog coaches made stops at Dallas Mavericks, Memphis Grizzlies, Oklahoma City Thunder, and New York Knicks training camps.
Drill work is a huge part of Arkansas’ practices, especially given Musselman’s preference to limit live 5-on-5 scrimmaging, and with Musselman’s NBA coaching background combined with him keeping his eyes on an ever-evolving NBA it makes sense that he puts a premium on learning and implementing some of what is observed at various training camps this time of year. Musselman’s drills are detailed and nuanced, and by constantly adding to his arsenal of drills Musselman is able to keep his players locked into learning.
* Arkansas hoops staffer leaves for position at App State: Raheem Martin, recently promoted to coordinator of student-athlete development at Arkansas after two seasons in Fayetteville as a graduate assistant, was named director of recruiting for Appalachian State on Friday. Martin is the brother of the NBA’s Martin twins — Caleb and Cody — who played for Musselman at Nevada.
* Recruiting updates: With Arkansas’ football team on the road for most of October, the pace of bringing in on-campus basketball visitors will be limited this month but the efforts of the Hoop Hogs coaching staff to travel for high school practice evaluations and in-home visits continues to be a priority.
Musselman was in to see 2024 5-star Hog offer Dink Pate (6-7 guard, Dallas Pinkston) last week among other stops in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, and Arkansas coaches are planning to be back in central Arkansas soon (possibly this week) to see 2024 5-star Hog offer K. Annor Boateng (6-6 wing, Little Rock Central) as well as 2025 4-star Hog offer Terrion Burgess (6-8 wing, Benton) among other expected stops in the area.
Boateng — the national No. 13 / 5-star prospect according to Rivals.com and the No. 16 prospect according to the On3 national recruiting service — and 2023 5-star Arkansas commit Layden Blocker (6-3 point guard, Little Rock native, Sunrise Christian Academy in Wichita, Kan.) both excelled at recent prestigious camps — Coach Wootten’s Top 150 Camp (Oct. 2-3) and USA Basketball junior national mini camp (Oct. 7-10) — as multiple national recruiting analysts have consistently cited them as camp standouts at both events.
Arkansas remains in contention for three prized class of 2023 recruits in 5-star Ron Holland (6-8 combo forward, Duncanville, Texas), 5-star Baye Fall (6-11 forward / center, Accelerated Schools in Denver, Colo.), and 4-star Assane Diop (6-10 combo forward, Accelerated Schools in Denver, Colo.).
Linked are my post-Oct. 1-visit articles onFall and Diop (https://forums.hogville.net/index.php?topic=745100.0) as well as 2025 4-star Parker Jefferson (https://forums.hogville.net/index.php?topic=745296.0).
Photos by Kevin McPherson (first photo), Arkansas men’s basketball (second photo), and Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress (third photo) …
From 2021-22 Red/White game at Barnhill Arena
From 2022 Arkansas Pro Day
Layden Blocker (#4) and K. Annor Boateng (#23) from USA Basketball junior national training camp