LITTLE ROCK — As the Arkansas Razorbacks prepare to embark on their journey through the NCAA tournament that begins on Friday against Colgate in Indianapolis, the Hogs’ coaching staff has ramped up its spring recruiting that this time of year means a heavy dose of the transfer portal with attention also being paid to high school prospects.
The high volume of players already flooding the portal offers a lot to digest before emersing one’s self into a deeper recruiting process, but for Head Hog Eric Musselman it’s the kind of controlled chaos that’s right in his wheelhouse. So far in the current spring recruiting cycle, Arkansas has reached out to approximately 30 college transfer prospects.
In just the past four days, one college transfer and one high school prospect — Antonio Daye, Jr. and Jordan Walsh — each named Arkansas among his top schools.
Daye (6-1 junior-transfer guard from Florida International) announced via Twitter on Tuesday his “Top 4” that includes the Hogs, Clemson, Pittsburgh, and Providence. In an interview with Hogville.net from late February and shortly after he had entered the portal, Daye talked about his early Razorbacks recruitment.
“I haven’t even been in the portal for 24 hours yet, so I haven’t gotten that far with any school,” Daye told Hogville.net. “But, I’ve talked to (Arkansas coaches) on the phone maybe twice. Coach (Clay) Moser and coach (Anthony) Ruta. I think Arkansas is an amazing program and I’m excited to get the recruiting process started with them. Everything is fresh for me so I am just getting to know the coaches and things of that sort so we will see.”
In addition to Razorbacks coaches, Daye said he’d been contacted by Florida, Missouri, North Carolina State, Pitt, Wake Forest, St. John’s, Wichita, Cincinnati, Murray State, Iona, Siena, North Carolina Central, Ohio, Georgia State, Southern Illinois, and Valparaiso.
Daye said he hadn’t “fully decided yet” on a timeframe for making a decision. A junior who played in 22 games at FIU in 2020-21, Daye said he will have two years of remaining eligibility moving forward. He’d also have immediate playing eligibility in ’21-22.
Daye started 21 times this season and averaged 17.1 points, 4.7 assists, 4.3 rebounds, and 2.4 steals in 31.6 minutes per game while shooting 45.5% from the field, including 28.9% from 3, and 69.3% from the free throw line on a team that was 9-13 with him in the lineup. He had 8 games scoring 20 or more points this season, including a season-high 28 points in a 74-70 win over Jacksonville State in early December.
In his 3 seasons at FIU, Daye totaled 989 points, 344 assists, 290 rebounds, and 140 steals in 87 games.
“A guy who loves to get after it on the defensive side!” Daye answered when asked about what he brings to the court. “I am really good in a pick-and-roll, and my passing ability is really good. I can get to the basketball at a high high level and finish through contact, and I can make shots when needed.”
Walsh (6-7 combo forward, Waxahachie Faith Family Academy in Texas, composite national No. 58 / 4-star prospect) on Sunday announced his top 10 schools — Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, Texas A&M, Texas, Texas Tech, TCU, Cal, Prairie View A&M, and Texas-Rio Grande Valley.
“The communication I have with their coaches,” Walsh told Hogville.net on Sunday when asked about the Hogs making his list. “It’s not what they tell me, it’s what we talk about and how we discuss situations going on in the basketball world. It’s mainly evaluating my games.”
Arkansas originally offered Walsh a scholarship in May 2020, and at the time Walsh told Hogville.net that his interest in the Razorbacks was “pretty high, it’s a good school.”
Musselman has landed a total of 11 transfers (5 in the 2019 recruiting class, 5 in 2020, and 1 so far in 2021) and 6 high school prospects (4 in 2020, one signed in 2021, and one committed in 2022) spanning parts of five recruiting cycles overlapping his two seasons as head coach at Arkansas.
* Pittsburgh junior-transfer Au’Diese Toney (6-6 guard, Hunstville, Ala. native) remains a priority recruit for Arkansas, and you can read more about that in my article published here at Hogville.net on Thursday, March 4 (linked: https://forums.hogville.net/index.php?topic=726476.0).
* 2021 Arkansas signee, ESPN national No. 7 / 5-star prospect, McDonald’s All American, and Naismith National Girls High School Player of the Year finalist Jersey Wolfenbarger (6-5 combo guard, Fort Smith Northside) will wrap up her illustrious high school career on Thursday as the Lady Bears take on Fayetteville in the 6A state championship game in Hot Springs. Wolfenbarger is looking for her second state title in the last three seasons as she famously hit the game-winning jumper to beat the buzzer as a sophomore in Northside’s come-from-behind win over Bentonville in the title game in ’18-19.
* While a couple of Arkansas recruiting targets fell out of the state high school tournament picture last week, five more have advanced with their teams to the various state title games that will be played this week in Hot Springs. Arkansas offers representing the 2022, 2023, and 2024 classes — junior Kel’el Ware (6-11 forward / center, North Little Rock, national No. 32 / 4-star prospect according to 247Sports.com), sophomore Bryson Warren (6-2 point guard, Little Rock Central, national No. 32 / 4-star prospect according to 247Sports.com), and freshmen K. Annor Boateng (6-5 wing, Little Rock Central) — will meet up on the Thursday as the Tigers and Charging Wildcats will play for the 6A state title. Central swept North Little Rock in their home-and-away series in 6A-Central league play during the regular season. Warren scored 24 points as he reached the career 1,000-points scoring club in Central’s 57-50 win over Bentonville on Saturday in one 6A semifinal matchup, while Ware had a dominating 28-point, 13-rebound, 8-block performance in the Charging Wildcats’ 87-63 win over Fort Smith Northside in the other 6A semifinal game. In class 4A, 2022 Arkansas commit and 4-star prospect Joseph Pinion (6-6 wing, Morrilton) overcame foul trouble in the tournament semifinals on Saturday and finished with 15 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, and 1 block to lead the Devil ‘Dogs to a 70-64 win over previously unbeaten Magnolia and 2022 Arkansas offer Derrian Ford (6-4 combo guard, composite national No. 44 / 4-star prospect), who finished with 20 points, 8 rebounds, 1 assist, and 1 steal in the Panthers’ first loss in 55 games. In the 4A state title game on Saturday in Hot Springs, Pinion and Morrilton will face Little Rock Mills and 2022 Hog target Javion Guy-King(6-5 wing), who had 12 points and 5 rebounds in the Comets’ 51-45 win over Blytheville in the other 4A semifinal game last Saturday. In class 5A, 2022 Arkansas offer and composite national No. 25 prospect Nick Smith, Jr. (6-5 combo guard) and his Sylvan Hills Bears were eliminated by Maumelle in the semifinals on Monday night. Smith ended his season with 31 points in the loss.
* 2021 Arkansas signee Akol Mawein (6-9 combo forward, Navarro College in Texas, national No. 4 / 4-star junior college prospect according to 247Sports.com) is averaging 12.1 points and 5.7 rebounds while shooting 49.6% from the field, including 13-of-42 from 3 for 31.0%, and 71.2% from the free throw line for Navarro (9-5).