UA recruiting notebook: Hogs not done with portal, plus ’22, ’23, ’24 & ’25 updates

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LITTLE ROCK — With the likelihood the Arkansas Razorbacks will soon announce a fourth transfer to their 2021 recruiting haul, there could be more as several new portal prospects have recently popped up on their radar.

Maryland senior-transfer and Big Ten Defesnive Player of the Year Darryl Morsell (6-5 guard / wing, native of Baltimore, Md.) has both entered the transfer portal and the 2021 NBA Draft pool, and he told Hogville.net that Arkansas is one of the schools he’s been communicating with consistently.

“Mainly (Head Hog Eric) Musselman,” Morsell said about his contact point at Arkansas, adding that he’s actually been talking to “both” Musselman and director of basketball operations Anthony Ruta.

But Morsell is also testing the draft waters while leaving the door open to return to college for one more season.

“Main focus right now” is the NBA draft, he acknowledged.

Morsell started 27 of 30 games as a senior in 2020-21 and averaged career-bests of 9.0 points, 2.8 assists, and 0.9 steals to go with 4.0 rebounds in 29.4 minutes per game while shooting 48.6% from the field, including 14-of-55 from 3 for 25.5%, and 60.9% from the free throw line. He was widely considered the best defender in the Big Ten conference and offciallly won the league’s distinction as such.

In his four seasons at Maryland, Morsell started 108 of the 126 games he played in, totaling 1,090 points, 510 rebounds, 277 assists, 91 steals, and 57 blocks.

Arkansas has also reached out to Texas-El Paso senior-transfer Bryson Williams (6-8 forward, native of Fresno, Calif.) who recently went into the portal.

“Truly blessed to have had the opportunity to speak with coaches from Oklahoma State, Washington, Texas A&M, and Arkansas,” Williams announced via Twitter on Sunday. He’s also talked to coaches from Texas (where his head coach at UTEP, Rodney Terry, is now an assistant coach), USC, Texas Tech, and Oklahoma.

Williams played his first two seasons at hometown Fresno State (’16-17 and ’17-18) before transferring to UTEP, where he sat out a redshirt season (’18-19) before playing the last two seasons (’19-20 and ’20-21).

As a senior in ’20-21, Williams started all 24 games and averaged 15.1 points and 7.4 rebounds in 31.4 minutes per game while shooting 48.1% from the field, including 19-of-68 from 3 for 27.9%, and 83.6% from the free throw line. He had games of 23 points and 13 rebounds against Kansas; 17 points and 8 rebounds against St. Mary’s College; 10 points and 7 rebounds against Arizona; and 22 points and 10 rebounds against Arizona State.

As a junior in ’19-20, Williams started all 32 games and averaged 17.8 points and 7.2 rebounds in 31.8 minutes per game while shooting 49.9% from the field, including 31-of-87 from 3 for 35.6%, and 81.1% from the free throw line. He reached his career-high scoring of 33 points twice as a junior.

As a sophomore at Fresno State in ’17-18, Williams was a big factor on the court when Fresno State lost to Arkansas, 83-75, on Nov. 17, 2017, in Fayetteville as he finished with 22 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1 steal.

According to Saturday reporting by college hoops freelance journalist Adam Zagoria, Arkansas “is the latest to reach out to Oklahoma transfer De’Vion Harmon.” Harmon (6-2 guard, sophomore, native of Denton, Texas) has also heard from Kentucky, Indiana, Oregon, Texas, and Gonzaga, according to Zagoria’s reporting.

Harmon started 23 of 25 games in ’20-21 and averaged 12.9 points, 3.4 rebounds, 2.1 assists, and 1.1 steals in 31.8 minutes per game while shooting 47.7% from the field, including 33-of-100 from 3 for 33.0%, and 73.2% from the free throw line. He scored 20 or more points four times during the season.

Due to the covid pandemic exception made by the NCAA, college players will receive an extra year of eligibility and that eligibility will begin immediately in ’21-22.

Arkansas has so far contacted between 50 and 60 players during the 2021 recruiting cycle according to reports and confirmations. Of those, Arkansas has announced three Division 1 transfer additions in Pitt junior-transfer Au’Diese Toney, Miami senior-transfer Chris Lykes, and South Dakota senior-transfer Stanley Umude — all who had committed to the Hogs once the calendar turned the page from March to April.

Musselman has landed a total of 14 transfers (5 in the 2019 recruiting class, 5 in 2020, and 4 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.

With ESPN Top 100 high school prospect Chance Moore (6-5 wing, McEachern School in Georgia) and 247Sports.com national top 5 junior college prospect Akol Mawein (6-9 combo forward, Navarro College) already signed in the November early period combined with the portal haul of Toney, Lykes, Umude, and Johnson, the Hogs have 12 players on board, which is one shy of the maximum 13 scholarship spots for the ’21-22 season. That includes the recent transfer-portal departures of junior guard Desi Sills and junior forward Ethan Henderson as well as freshman Moses Moody declaring for the 2021 NBA Draft, and there may be additional roster attrition via the transfer portal or pro ball pursuits.

* 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 a source, as he has the Hogs in his final 4 list of schools that includes Mississippi State, New Mexico State, and Drake.

* 2023 Taylor Bol Bowen (6-8 combo forward, Brewster Academy in New Hampshire, composite national No. 22 / 5-star prospect) reported a scholarship offer from Arkansas on April 8. Bowen reportedly already holds offers from Iowa, Kansas State, Rutgers, Providence, George Mason, Bryant, and Vermont with Indiana, Clemson, Stanford, Penn State, Marquette, and other showing interest.

* 2022 Arkansas offer Ramel Lloyd, Jr. (6-6 combo guard, Rancho Christian High School, Temecula, Calif., composite national No. 65 / 4-star prospect) recently announced via Twitter that he will make his college commitment on June 28. It will be interesting to see if Lloyd — he has a top 8 of the Hogs, Oregon, Arizona, Washington, Baylor, Illinois, Rutgers, and Nebraska — schedules a visit to Fayetteville given than the NCAA’s year-long recruiting “dead period” due to the covid-19 pandemic will end on May 31 with on-campus visits resuming as early as June 1.

* 2022 Arkanas target Kel’el Ware (6-11 forward / center, North Little Rock, 17U All Arkansas Red, composite national No. 32 / 4-star prospect) had a strong showing in his 2021 spring and summer grassroots  debut weekend before last in Omaha, Neb., as he averaged 20-plus points and 10-plus rebounds through four games, and his recruitment has picked up with a new offer from southern Cal as interest from Baylor. Ware has added good weight to a ling frame, and his offensive package (both with his back to the basket and facing from the perimeter) have improved. Ware recently announced his top 10 that included the Hogs, Auburn, Florida, Missouri, Texas A&M, Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma State, Virginia Tech, and Oral Roberts. He’s looking more and more like a one-and-done, fringe NBA Draft lottery type of talent once he reaches the college level after his upcoming senior high school season.

* The Arkansas Hawks began their 2021 spring and summer grassroots season in Memphis on Saturday, and several Hog recruiting targets stood out. Mainly, it was 2022 Arkansas commit and Rivals.com 4-star prospect Joseph Pinion (6-6 wing, Morrilton) who looked like the best player on the floor when the 17U Hawks split a basketball doubleheader against Memphis-based 17U Hoop City Basketball Club on Saturday in Memphis. Playing a total of 4 quarters spanning the two contests, Pinion totaled 24 points (shooting 8-of-16 from the field, including 4-of-8 from 3), 16 rebounds, 8 assists, and 3 blocks. Pinion continues to prove to be a volume scorer without having to be a volume shooter, although he’s one of the best pull-up shooters in the nation when combining his craft from behind the three-point arc and in the mid-range. He’s a plus-rebounder from the wing, a plus-passer in terms of not only setting up teammates to score but promoting good ball movement with the pass instead of dribbling, and his basketball IQ is extermemly high. Also standing out were 15U Arkansas Hawks in 2024 Hog offer K. Annor Boateng (6-5 wing, Little Rock Central), 2024 DeShun Spence (6-5 combo forward, Vilonia), and 2025 Kellen Robinson (6-0 point guard, Episcopal Collegiate) who is the playing up a level and is the younger brother of Razorbacks guard KK Robinson.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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