LITTLE ROCK — The heart wants what the heart wants, and 2021 5-star prospect Jersey Wolfenbarger said her heart told her to play for the Arkansas Razorbacks and head coach Mike Neighbors, which she committed to do on Monday.
“All my tops, they were all really close to the character I was looking for, the style of play, the coaching staff,” Wolfenbarger said of sorting through her scholarship options to arrive at her commitment to the Hogs. “But I was just waiting on my mind and my heart to align. I had made a list so I saw all the pros and cons of each school. And then I just let my heart decide in the end.
“Like I said they all aligned with all my values, and then my heart was just, you know, I wanted to be a Razorback and that’s how I made my decision.”
Wolfenbarger (6-5 combo guard, Fort Smith Northside, ESPN national No. 18 / 5-star prospect, 2020 Gatorade Arkansas Player of the Year) said the excitement during her Monday commitment phone call with Neighbors elicited some “goosebumps” from the Head Hog.
“It was exciting,” Wolfenbarger said. “He told me, he was like ‘Oh my gosh, I’ve got goosebumps, goosebumps.’ I was giggling the whole time, because we were both so excited. It’s really hard not to be able to not say it in person, but the fact that I let him know I’m committed to getting better and I want to be a part of this program and his process. We were both just really excited.”
With her commitment to Arkansas — the Razorbacks finished an abbreviated 2019-20 season at 24-8 overall and ranked No. 24 in the Associated Press Top 25 — Wolfenbarger ended a lengthy recruiting process that saw more than 40 NCAA Division 1 programs offer her a scholarship, including the likes of UConn, Notre Dame, Baylor, Texas, Tennessee, and Oregon State to name just a few.
Wolfenbarger said the mutual belief and trust with Neighbors won her over.
“I think we just had this equal belief in each other, and I think that really resonated with me that he believed in me from the beginning,” Wolfenbarger said. “You know, when I was 5-6 at Northside, barely 100 pounds, he had enough belief in my upside that he decided to recruit me. That really stuck to me. I was just thinking he’s somebody I want to play for because like I said we both have that trust in each other.”
Wolfenbarger had a great junior and sophomore seasons in the Arkansas high school ranks. As a junior, she averaged 18.7 points, 6.0 rebounds, 3.7 assists, and 1.5 steals per game while pacing the top-ranked Lady Bears to a deep run into the 6A state tournament. As a sophomore, she averaged 22.5 points, 3.3 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 1.3 steals in a story-book season that culminated in Wolfenbarger leading a comeback from a double-digit deficit before she hit a buzzer-beating game-winner over Bentonville in the 6A state title game that garned her MVP honors.
She followed up her sophomore season with a strong spring and summer in 2019 playing with 17U Arkansas Banshees as one of the top players on the national Under Armour Association circuit. She also showed well at the Team USA U16 training camp in May 2019 in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Wolfenbarger is a smooth do-it-all perimeter force who can make plays for teammates as well as create her own offense. She has grown roughly 11 inches — shooting up from 5-6 to 6-5 in just over two years.
Arkansas Women’s Basketball head coach Mike Neighbors showed his excitement on Twitter as well: