LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas head coach Eric Musselman landed an unprecedented, national-top-5-ranked in-state class in 2020, and now he and the Razorbacks have successfully mined their backyard again as 2022 composite national No. 102 / 4-star prospect Joseph Pinion of Morrilton pledged to the Hogs on Wednesday.
Pinion (6-6 wing) had a virtual Zoom meeting with Razorbacks coaches Wednesday afternoon and later that evening he called Musselman to verbally commit to Arkansas. He made his pledge known publicly at 11:23 a.m. on Friday via Twitter.
“It’s huge for me because I’ve always wanted to be a Razorback,” Pinion told Hogville.net on Thursday. “Growing up in Arkansas, everybody wants to be a Razorback. I was praying about it, trying to make a decision, and Arkansas made a major push and God just put it in my lap. He (Musselman) was yelling when I committed, he was excited and so happy. I felt relieved when I told Coach Muss because I made the right decision to go to Arkansas.
“They expect me to come in and play minutes and be a guy who can hit shots, like Isaiah Joe and Moses Moody, and help them win. The ultimate goal is to win a national championship with the Hogs.”
Pinion chose Arkansas over offers from Kansas, Baylor, Texas Tech, Vanderbilt, Ole Miss, TCU, Oklahoma, Creighton, DePaul, Murray State, and others. Duke began showing interest in Pinion on Aug. 25 and subsequently escalated his recruitment with multiple phone visits and meetings.
Pinion becomes the fifth highly regarded in-state recruit to commit to Musselman and Arkansas when counting the 2020 foursome of Moses Moody, Jaylin Williams, Khalen “KK” Robinson, and Davonte “Devo” Davis, who were all national Top 100 prospects and are now freshmen on the Hogs’ 2020-21 roster. ESPN rated that 2020 in-state haul as the No. 5 recruiting class in the nation.
Pinion is also 1 of 4 prospects committed with intentions to sign with Arkansas as he joins 2021 Chance Moore (6-5 wing, McEachern School in Georgia, ESPN national No. 44 / 4-star prospect); 2021 Akol Mawein (6-9 combo forward, Navarro College, national No. 3 junior college prospect according to 247Sports.com); and Little Rock junior-transfer Kamani Johnson (6-7 forward), who is expected to transfer to Arkansas at the end of the current fall semester with two years of playing eligibility beginning in ’21-22.
Pinion can sign his letter of intent with Arkansas in just over a year as the class of 2022 early signing period will take place in mid-November of 2021.
Musselman and his Hogs’ coaching staff had been in almost daily communication with Pinion since NCAA coaches could begin making direct contact with prospects on June 15.
“It went well, the whole staff was there,” Pinion said of his first virtual meeting with Hog coaches just after midnight on June 15. “They were just showing me their coaching resume and that they are great coaches and a lot of experience in all different leagues and how they can help me after college once I stop playing basketball.”
Pinion — he took an unofficial visit to Arkansas in November 2019 — averaged 18.1 points, 7.9 rebounds, 1.5 steals, and 1.6 blocks in leading Morrilton (21-11) to a conference title in ’19-20. A knee injury that Pinion has since recovered from ended his sophomore campaign in the final stretch of the season.
Pinion is a member of the Arkansas-based Joe Johnson Hawks program, which did not compete on the 2020 spring and summer Adidas grassroots basketball circuit because it was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“He will be a star in the SEC,” Hawks chairman Bill Ingram said of Pinion. “He’s probably going to end up being an all-conference player. He looks great coming off the knee injury. He looks stronger than he did before he got hurt.
“We’re confident as he competes with the Hawks (during the spring and summer of 2021) that he’ll eventually be a Top 50 player.”
Pinion is 1 of 6 in-state recruits from the Class of 2022 to hold an Arkansas offer. The other five are juniors Derrian Ford (6-4 combo guard, Magnolia, national No. 38 / 4-star prospect according to Rivals.com); Nick Smith, Jr. (6-5 combo guard, Sylvan Hills, national No. 29 / 4-star prospect according to Ruvals.com); Kel’el Ware (6-11 forward / center, North Little Rock, national No. 42 / 4-star prospect according to Rivals.com); Javion Guy-King (6-5 wing, Little Rock Mills); and Creed Williamson (6-8 forward, Little Rock Christian Academy).
Pinion has good length on his sturdy 6-6 frame that will easily add muscle weight without compromising his flexibility and athleticism, and he’s a confident sharpshooter from distance with good ball-handling skill and an emerging slash-and-finish game.
Pinion’s recent workout highlights and a recent video interview, plus his ’19-20 hudl highlights are linked here …