LITTLE ROCK — In a potential twist of irony, Michigan head coach Juwan Howard — a member of the Wolverines’ famed Fab Five from the early 1990s — could play spoiler to a never-before-seen, in-state recruiting run by the Arkansas Razorbacks.
Five class of 2020 players from Arkansas who are all ranked in the national Top 100 — Moses Moody, Khalen “KK” Robinson, Chris Moore, Davonte Davis, and Jaylin Williams — have the Hogs at or near the top of their wish lists with Davis (6-4 point guard, Jacksonville, ESPN national No. 79 / 4-star prospect) already on board with a recent commitment as the first domino in what could become, dare we suggest, an Arkansas Fab Five.
“For sure,” Davis said Tuesday when asked if a Fab Five at Arkansas could still happen with the remaining four in-state prospects still undecided and possibly nearing decisions by the start of the early signing period that is just two weeks away (Nov. 13-20).
Moody (6-6 wing, Little Rock native, Montverde Academy in Florida, ESPN national No. 29 / 4-star prospect) released his Final 3 on Monday night via Tipton Edits — Arkansas, Michigan, and a newcomer in defending national champion Virginia. He’s visited both Fayetteville and Ann Arbor, Mich., and now he’s considering a trip to Charlottesville, Va.
Howard is in his first year as a head coach at any level, returning to lead his alma mater after spending years in the NBA as both a player and assistant coach. As for Arkansas, first-year head coach Eric Musselman has a wealth of head coaching experience with a resume that includes gigs at the highest levels of professional basketball (Golden State and Sacramento in the NBA) as well as a recent four-year stint at NCAA Divison 1 Nevada where he molded the Wolfpack into a nationally ranked program.
Both are in hot pursuit of Moody, who has suggested player development for the next level is maybe the most important consideration as he decides on a college. Moody very well may hold the key to Arkansas’s chances to make a clean in-state sweep, meaning a Moody pledge to Musselman and the Hogs could go a long way in convincing the others to stay home for their college careers.
“Definitely Coach Musselman with his pro experience,” Moody said on Oct. 20 of what stood out during his Arkansas visit. “And I can tell the advantages that he has during his presentation — just his knowledge and experience. I really liked the coaches, the fans, and all the support. I really liked that. I’m taking that pretty big the way the city has recruited me.”
Musselman and associate head coach Chris Crutchfield will be at Montverde Academy on Wednesday to visit Moody, a trek that has become an almost-weekly routine for the Hogs’ coaching staff dating back to early September.
Robinson (6-1 point guard, Bryant, Oak Hill Academy in Virginia, composite national No. 72 / 4-star prospect) took his official visit to Arkansas during the same weekend that Moody did — Oct. 18-20 — and given that both players have expressed an interest in playing together in college, such a scenario if it were to play out heavily favors the Hogs.
“I’d say 70 or 75 percent,” Robinson said on Oct. 20 of the Hogs’ chances of landing the long-time friends and former teammates. “The visit was amazing — the coaches, the players, the fans, just everything.
“They’re (Arkansas) 1 or 2 out of my top four. Coach (Musselman) told me how I’d fit in, how I’d evolve if I went there.”
In addition to Arkansas, Robinson has visited TCU, Illinois, and Kansas with Texas A&M, Iowa State, and Vanderbilt rounding his final 7.
Razorbacks assistant coach Corey Williams is slated to be at Oak Hill Academy on Wednesday to visit Robinson.
Moore (6-6 combo forward, West Memphis, national No. 95 / 4-star prospect according to 247Sports.com) is down to Arkansas, Memphis, and Auburn, the latter of which will get his final official visit this weekend (Nov. 1-3) before he makes a final decision and signs during the early period.
Moore took his official visit to Arkansas in September followed by an OV to Memphis in October. Musselman and his assistants have made frequent visits to West Memphis to see Moore since early September. Crutchfield was in town on Tuesday to visit with Moore.
“Right now, we’ve got one more step and that’s to finish the Auburn trip,” Moore said on Monday. “We’ll break down the X’s and O’s after the Auburn trip for sure. But you know, all the colleges are showing me a lot of love.”
Williams (6-10 forward / center, Fort Smith Northside, composite national No. 69 / 4-star prospect) has taken multiple unofficial visits to Arkansas and is working on setting up another trip to Fayetteville “soon”. Williams has already taken an official visit to Oklahoma State (in June), he’ll join Moore on an OV to Auburn this weekend, and he’s also got an OV planned to Texas A&M the weekend of Nov. 15-17. It appears he’ll choose between those four schools with UConn, Iowa State, and Illinois possibly on the outside looking in.
Musselman and staff have been out to see Williams multiple times since early September, including a Tuesday visit from assistant coach Corey Williams.
The first domino has fallen, question is who is next and will all five fall in the direction of Arkansas? Those questions will be answered soon enough, and for now an Arkansas Fab Five is still on the table.