Arkansas head basketball coach Eric Musselman expects three point shooting guard Isaiah Joe to act soon on his future plans. Speaking to reporters on Wednesday Musselman said, “He and his family are talking and I’m talking to Isaiah and I expect him to test the (NBA) waters. That would be my gut feeling.”
Musselman explained that he and his staff have been providing feedback to Joe and his family for a while but the timing of any decision is up to them. “They’re thinking through the process and asking all the right questions,” Musselman revealed. “If we send them stuff they call back and ask if we can dig a little further. Right now there’s just phenomenal communication in regards to the NBA stuff.”
Pressed further on the odds of Joe coming back or deciding to enter the draft Musselman went into more detail about the process most players go through in trying to make such a decision. “At this particular time of the year he’s certainly a player that if he wants to explore this thing you explore it,” Musselman affirmed. “You do as much research as you can and you certainly don’t put odds on coming back. You just focus on the process and then at some point you make a decision to stay in or come back.”
“Not just with Isaiah but I want our other guys to know that when you go through this process with us, we’ve been through it with a lot of guys in a very short period of time and there’s got to be a trust factor on what’s best for the particular player,” Musselman continued. “So our job is just to provide as much information as we can get. (assistant) Coach (Clay) Mossier might have three people that he knows with one organization and I might know two more. Coach (Anthony) Ruta (Arkansas director of Basketball Operations) might know their G League guys so we’re trying to gather as much information as we can, not just get the information from the NBA Undergraduate Committee. We have some resources here that make us a lot different from some other places.”
While the focus at this point is on the draft process for Joe, Musselman did indicate that if the former Ft. Smith Northside standout decides to come back for his junior year at Arkansas his role as a part time point guard would probably be expanded some but he would mainly be called upon to do more ball handling at the the off guard position. “We’d want to put Isaiah in more pick and roll situations and more isolation-type things that we used Mason (Jones) with,” Musselman explained.
Asked about what appears to be a slim chance of Jones returning for his senior season Musselman said, “From all indications that’s the challenge (turning pro) that he’s looking toward. We’ve done all the research we can do up to this point. We’ve talked to twenty-three NBA teams and supplied them with information.”
Various NBA draft projections have both Joe and Jones listed as either low second round picks or not slated for selection at all. Musselman said with his experience as a former NBA head coach and also in the CBA, he’s been able to advise both about the odds of making it to the NBA out of the G League. The process is tough, he explained, since even at that level teams are loaded with outstanding former college players trying to get a chance to move up.