UA recruiting notebook: 5 Star Kijani Wright has Hogs in Top 7 with visit planned, more

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LITTLE ROCK — Now that spring and summer grassroots action is in full swing, or close to it after a year of having only a smattering of small-scale events due to the covid-19 pandemic, the Arkansas Razorbacks coaching staff has hit the ground running with its high school prospect recruiting efforts.

At the top of a busy week following an action-packed weekend is 2022 composite national No. 11 / 5-star prospect Kijani Wright (6-9, 220, power forward, Windward School in Los Angeles, 17U Compton Magic) naming the Razorbacks among his Top 7 schools, a list that includes Southern Cal, Stanford, Kansas, Texas, Michigan State, and Florida State.

Wright made the announcement via the Compon Magic’s Twitter account on Tuesday, and later that day a source told that Wright planned to visit Arkansas and was looking to set up an official visit “later in the summer.”

In a typical grassroots season that has a jam-packed July of shoe circuit events, it’s normal to see a heavy dose of prospect campus visits in June and August. But this year it appears that July may be less busy with shoe circuit events, so “later in the summer” would suggest a Wright visit to Fayetteville could happen either in July or August.

If Arkansas is able to get Wright on campus and ultimately sign him, it wouldn’t be the first time the Razorbacks landed a 5-star caliber big man from California. In the 1993 recruiting class under Naismith Hall of Fame head coach Nolan Richardson, the Hogs convinced McDonald’s All American and The Sporting News’ national No. 1 prospect Darnell Robinson (6-10 forward / center, Oakland, Calif.) to join the program. Robinson would help the Hogs advance to two national title games (includes Arkansas winning the 1993-94 national championship when he was a freshman) and a Sweet 16. 

Wright is big, strong, and sturdy, but he’s not stiff and has soft hands. He can play facing up on the perimeter with shooting range out to the three-point line, or in the paint with his back to the basket as he displays a variety of decisive moves capped off by soft-touch finishes.

Arkansas is once again pursuing big man from Serbia: Arkansas first began recruiting Dusan Mahorcic (6-10 forward / center, native of Belgrade, Serbia) in the fall of 2019 at a time when he was a junior college prospect, and after spending his junior season in ’20-21 at Illinois State he recently entered the transfer portal with the Hogs coaching staff wasting no time in reaching out to him.

Mahorcic told that his Wednesday visit with Arkansas special assistant Hays Myers went “really well … I talked to coach for like 20 minutes.” Mahorcic said he’ll have a zoom meeting with Arkansas head coach Eric Musselman and more Razorbacks coaches on Tuesday, May 4. Since entering the portal, Mahorcic has reportedly heard from Southern Cal, Texas,  Texas A&M, Boston College, DePaul, UNLV, Murray State, Colorado State, New Mexico State, UTEP, and South Alabama among others.

Mahorcic averaged 9.9 points and 7.2 rebounds last season at Illinois State while shooting 59.1% from the field. He’ll have two seasons of immediate playing eligibility. He played at Moberly Area (Mo.) Community College in ’19-20 when the Hogs initially began showing interest.

Head Hog talks to Texas A&M transfer:Arkansas head coach Eric Musselman spoke with Texas A&M freshman-transfer Jaxson Robinson(6-7 wing) last week. The Hogs recruited the Top 100 4-star sharpshooter from Ada, Okla., out of high school, and he visited Arkansas at least three times before signing with the Aggies and reclassifying from the class of 2021 to play at A&M as a freshman in ’20-21. Robinson played in 14 games, starting 4 times, and averaged 2.1 points and 1.1 rebounds in 9.7 minutes per game while shooting 8-of-28 from 3 for 28.6%. He’ll have four seasons of playing eligibility beginning immediately in ’21-22.

Portal prospect still in the mix for Hogs:Eastern Illinois senior-transfer Marvin Johnson(6-6 guard, first team All Ohio Valley Conference in ’20-21 after averaging 15.3 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4.6 assists, and 1.9 steals) remains a recruiting priority for Arkansas, according to sources, as he has the Hogs in his final 4 list of schools that includes Mississippi State, New Mexico State, and Drake.

Musselman inquires about two 2022 prospects following their big weekend in Atlanta: According to a source, the Head Hog and other members of the Arkansas coaching staff reached out on Wednesday to Dallas-based Southern Assault 17U director and head coach Vonzell Thomas to inquire about 2022 prospects Yohan Traore (6-10 forward / center, Prolific Prep) and Quion Williams (6-4 guard / wing, Mansfield Legacy via Jonesboro).

Both players have flown under the radar in terms of national recruiting, but both turned heads over the weekend at the Exposure Breakout event in Atlanta. Yohan picked up offers from Kansas and TCU while Williams received an offer from Southeast Missouri following their strong weekend efforts.

Two more 17U Southern Assault prospects that already hold Hog offers — 5-star Keyonte George (6-5 guard, Lewisville, Texas) and 4-star Colin Smith (6-8 combo forward, Dallas St. Mark’s) — also had strong showings throughout the Atlanta event.

Smith told earlier in the week that he has not heard from Arkansas since assistant coach Corey Williams left for Texas Tech, but he said he’s “still interested” in the Razorbacks.

Another 2022 prospect getting increased interest from Arkansas: Senior-to-be and 4-star prospect Dillon Mitchell (6-7 combo forward, Bishop McLaughlin Catholic in Springhill, Fla., 17U E1T1) is receiving renewed interest from the Hogs coaching staff, according to a source. Arkansas began contacting Mitchell last year. He reportedly holds offers from Florida, Florida State, Vanderbilt, Ole Miss, Texas A&M, Ohio State, Virginia Tech, Penn State, SMU, and South Florida.

Recruiting picks up for pair of in-state Hog offers: 2022 Kel’el Ware (6-11 forward center, North Little Rock, 17U All Arkansas Red) and 2024 K. Annor Boateng (6-5 wing, Little Rock Central, 15U Arkansas Hawks) had productive weekends in grassroots play followed by heavy attention from high-major programs. Ware, who played in an event in Kansas City over the weekend, has been in contact with South Carolina Gamecocks while also receiving new interest from Oregon. He is scheduled for a zoom meeting with Southern Cal this week. Boateng, who competed in the Exposure Breakout event in Atlanta, picked up interest from Georgia and Mississippi State on Sunday, then on Monday the Bulldogs from Starkville, Miss., offered Boateng a scholarship to mark his second offer from an SEC school. Boateng averaged 17.3 points and 8.0 rebounds in four games as the 15U Arkansas Hawks went 2-2 in Atlanta.

Class of 2022 Arkansas target in California re-opens recruitment, but still high on Hogs:Arkansas target Ramel Lloyd, Jr. (6-6 combo guard, Sierra Canyon) had the Razorbacks among his Top 8 schools with intentions to visit Fayetteville in June ahead of his announced decision date of June 28, but on Monday he went to Twitter to announce “I’ve decided to open my recruitment back up 100%. I no longer have a cut list of 8 schools.” Later on Monday, Lloyd told that he still had the goal of announcing his college choice on June 28, and that he still planned to visit Arkansas some time in June.

Class of 2022 in-state prospect picking up high-major interest: With Arkansas already having 6 scholarship offers out to in-state seniors-to-be, there’s a seventh prospect in Jabari West, Jr. (6-8 forward, Hot Springs, 17U Arkansas Hawks) who is receiving high-major interest as St. John’s inquired earlier this week. West had an impressive weekend at the Exposure Breakout event in Atlanta.

For highlights, stats, and analysis of most of the aforementioned prospects, as well as Hog targets Joseph Pinion, Creed Williamson, Bryson Warren, and Nick Smith, Jr., click the link here …

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