LITTLE ROCK — It’s been more than a year since recruits could make on-campus visits due to the covid-19 pandemic, but when the clock strikes midnight turning the calendar page from May 31 to June 1 the Arkansas coaching staff will roll out the Razorback red carpets to welcome in three priority in-state prospects over the next 48 hours.
Led by third-year Head Hog Eric Musselman, the Hogs coaching staff will first bring in two national Top 40 recruits — Derrian Ford (6-4 combo guard, Magnolia, composite national No. 38 / 4-star prospect) and Kel’el Ware (7-0 forward / center, North Little Rock, national No. 29 / 4-star prospect according to 247Sports.com) — for official visits that will run concurrently from Tuesday through Thursday (June 1-3).
Additionally, 2022 Arkansas commit Joseph Pinion (6-6 wing, Morrilton, national No. 114 / 4-star prospect according to Rivals.com) will take an unofficial visit to Arkansas on Wednesday, June 2, which means 3 of the Top 4 in-state prospects in the class of 2022 will be on campus visiting at the same time.
It’s a great start for Musselman as he attempts to secure another national Top 5 high school recruiting class, which he did in 2020 with four Top 100 in-staters in Moses Moody, Davonte “Devo” Davis, KK Robinson, and Jaylin Williams — a rookie quartet that combined to help give Arkansas its greatest freshman-class season in school history in 2020-21 (read all the details about that group’s impact on the Razorbacks’ final national Top 10 ranking and NCAA tournament Elite Eight run here in my Hogville.net article published on Monday: https://forums.hogville.net/index.php?topic=730186.0).
What those freshmen accomplished just a couple of months ago is not lost on the incoming visitors.
“It shows me that it doesn’t matter the age,” Ford said. “If you work hard and perform, you will play.”
Pinion echoed the sentiment.
“It shows Muss trusts his young guys, making me feel like I can make a big impact as a freshman,” said Pinion, who averaged 22.5 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 2.5 assists while shooting 28-of-50 from the field (56.0%) and 29-of-32 from the free throw line (90.6%) as the 17U Arkansas Hawks went 3-1 over the weekend at the Memorial Day Classic in Atlanta.
Ford — he’s had numerous Zoom and phone meetings with the Arkansas coaching staff over the past year — is ready for the full in-person, on-campus visit experience.
“Just enjoying the moment and building a relationship face-to-face with the coaches,” he said.
Ware was succinct when asked what he was looking to get out of his first official visit.
“I just want to have a good time,” Ware said.
As if the week wasn’t busy enough, Arkansas is set to host two more visitors as 2022 Barry Dunning (6-5 small forward / wing, McGill-Toolen in Mobile, Ala., composite national No. 43 / 4-star prospect) will take his official visit to Arkansas on June 3-5 (Thursday through Saturday) followed by 2023 Layden Blocker (6-2 point guard, Sunrise Christian Academy in Kansas, Little Rock native, national No. 57 / 4-star prospect according to 247Sports.com) coming to Fayetteville for an unofficial visit on June 5 (Saturday).
“I am just looking forward to see the campus, meet the coaches, and get a feel of the school and basketball program,” Blocker said.
That’s a total of 5 visitors in the first week of June, and Arkansas will be busy with at least 5 more visitors from June 22 through July 1 …
* 2022 Ramel Lloyd, Jr. (6-6 combo guard, Sierra Canyon in California, composite national No. 67 / 4-star prospect) will take an official visit to Arkansas on June 22-24.
* 2022 Jordan Walsh (6-7 combo forward, Faith Family Academy in Texas, ESPN national No. 32 / 4-star prospect ) will take an official visit to Arkansas on June 24-26.
* 2022 Kijani Wright (6-9 forward, Windward School in California, composite national No. 11 / 5-star prospect) will take an official visit to Arkansas on June 27-29.
* 2022 Richard “Pop Pop” Isaacs (6-2 point guard, Wasatch Academy in Utah, composite national No. 23 / 4-star prospect) will take a visit to Arkansas on June 30.
* 2022 Zuby Ejiofor (6-9 forward, Garland, Texas, national No. 37 / 4-star prospect) will take an unofficial visit to Arkansas on July 1.