By Kevin McPherson
LITTLE ROCK — The week-long college basketball early signing period for the class of 2023 begins in a matter of days (running Wednesday, Nov. 9, through Wednesday, Nov. 16), and the Arkansas Razorbacks have one committed player planning to sign with the possibility of adding two more.
In-state 5-star commit Layden Blocker (6-3 point guard, Little Rock native, Sunrise Christian Academy in Wichita, Kan., composite national No. 25 prospect) intends to sign his national letter of intent with Arkansas during the early period, according to a source.
Blocker chose the Hogs over Kansas, Kansas State, and Maryland among a host of high-major suitors in June, coming a few weeks following his official visit to Arkansas.
Blocker became Arkansas’ fourth 5-star commit in the last two recruiting cycles, and he’ll become the fourth to sign his NLOI with the Hoop Hogs in the same span when he puts pen to paper in the coming days.
Arkansas and Head Hog Eric Musselman are also among the finalists for two talented frontliners from the class of 2023 — 5-star recruit Baye Fall and 4-star prospect Assane Diop.
Sources told Hogville.net on Friday, Oct. 28, that Fall (6-11 forward / center, Accelerated Schools in Denver, Colo., Rivals national No. 11 / 5-star prospect) and his teammate and cousin Diop (6-10 combo forward, Accelerated Schools in Denver, Colo., ESPN national No. 56 / 4-star prospect) would hold a dual commitment/NLOI signing ceremony on Tuesday, Nov. 15 (just one day prior to the final day of the early signing period).
Four days later on Saturday, Nov. 19, the duo will be in the state of Arkansas competing in the Big Show Showcase at Fort Smith Northside High School, a 10-team / 5-game / 1-day event taking place in the Grizzlies’ new basketball arena.
Fall is down to a final four of Arkansas, Auburn (he visited the Tigers for a second time last weekend), Seton Hall, and Rutgers. Diop has his list narrowed down to Arkansas, Seton Hall, and Colorado.
If Fall and Diop have decided to play together in college, then their choices can be paired down to Arkansas and Seton Hall.
After an unofficial visit to Arkansas for the Hoop Hogs’ win over Kentucky at Bud Walton Arena in February, Fall and Diop returned together again for their official visit to Arkansas over the first weekend of October.
“The visit was great!” Greg Willis, guardian and spring/summer grassroots hoops coach for Fall and Diop, told Hogville.net on Sunday, Oct. 2. “We really enjoyed our time together with Coach Muss and all of his staff.”
One interesting development in Arkansas’ class of 2023 recruitment is the very late scholarship offer made by the Hogs coaching staff on Friday, Oct. 28, to senior JJ Taylor (6-8 combo forward), who just last week transferred to San Ysidro High School in California. That offer came on the same day that 2023 5-star priority Hog target Ron Holland narrowed his list to three schools including Arkansas. Eight days later, Holland committed to Texas.