UPDATE: Dusty Hannahs has safely evacuated to Greece.
Editor’s note: In the best interest of their safety, Hogville has redacted some details from the Pro Hog accounts of their experiences so far in war-torn Israel.
By Kevin McPherson
LITTLE ROCK — Three former Arkansas Razorbacks men’s basketball players were confirmed to be safe, but unable to immediately evacuate, as war broke out Saturday in Israel where the players are currently residing for their 2023-24 professional basketball seasons.
Dusty Hannahs (Ironi Ness Ziona pro team in Israel), Justin Smith (Hapoel Holon pro team in Israel), and Jalen Tate (Elizur Shomron pro team in Israel) have been in communication with Arkansas head coach Eric Musselman as well as other Hog staffers and current players within the last two hours (morning hours in the United States, but night time in Israel) to acknowledge their safety, locations, and immediate plans in light of the bombings (including thousands of rocket strikes), hostage-claiming, more than a thousand injuries, and so far hundreds of deaths resulting from the surprise land, air, and sea attacks unleashed by Palestinian Hamas militants against Israel on Saturday.
Israel is “at war” was the proclamation of the nation’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shortly after the strikes, according to multiple media outlets.
Hannahs, a Little Rock native and former Hog (2014-15 through ’16-17) who has dual citizenship in the United States and Israel, shared specifics with Hogville on Saturday morning regarding his location and current situation.
“All good my guy,” Hannahs responded to Hogville’s inquiry about his safety in Israel. “Was in evacuation to (redacted) but they’re shooting rockets (redacted). (I’m located) in a (redacted). Can report if you want.”
Hannahs was not the only former Hog in Israel who was unable to evacuate at the time of this reporting.
A source told Hogville that Musselman and Arkansas star guard Davonte “Devo” Davis had “face timed” with Tate on Saturday morning, that the Hogs’ men’s basketball trainer Matt Townsend was in contact with Smith, and that Musselman was also in contact with Hannahs.
“We checked in with all three players this morning, they’re all doing well,” Musselman told Hogville. “Other staff members and other players have also reached out to the guys.
“I think the relationships, like our trainer Matt Townsend, talking with Justin Smith this morning and Devo and I talking to Jalen Tate today, I think right now everyone first and foremost is worrying about the guys’ safety.”
Josh Halickman, a basketball journalist and analyst in Israel who had this Hogville hoops analyst on for a podcast a few months ago after the Israeli pro-signing of Hannahs, also confirmed with Hogville his safety.
“I’m okay, but boy it has been a bad, bad day,” Halickman said. “It’s just a lot of chaos going on. There is mass chaos at the airport and Hamas has been targeting it with salvos of rockets.
“There are over 200 Israelis dead, over 1,100 injured but the numbers are going to be higher. Israelis have been kidnapped as well as other foreign nationals. Families have been slaughtered by the terrorists in Israel.”
Just a day earlier on Friday, Halickman said he attended Hannahs’ season opener.
“I was actually at Hannahs’ game yesterday, it was the season opener … 13 points, 3 rebounds.”
Hogville will report updates when and if appropriate to do so.