LITTLE ROCK — The Arkansas Razorbacks continue to show interest in 2021 in-state prospect Jalen Ricks, who said he spoke on Friday with Hog coaches.
“I had a conversation with Coach (Corey) Williams and Coach (Anthony) Ruta,” Ricks said. “They said they were seriously interested.”
Ricks (6-6 wing, Sherwood, Ark., native, 3-star prospect) reported offers from Arkansas, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M, and TCU in 2019 but had a limited backup role as a junior at prestigous Oak Hill Academy (Va.) in 2019-20 before missing out on shoe-circuit grassroots play in the spring and summer of 2020 due to the covid-19 pandemic, and thus his recruitment had slowed down a bit.
But a strong start in his senior campaign in ’20-21 at Oak Hill has Ricks gaining renewed interest from the Razorbacks and others, including Oklahoma State, Tulsa, Murray State, Georgia State, and Bowling Green.
Ricks, who last played on the Arkansas high school level at Sylvan Hills as a sophomore in ’18-19, received recent praise from ESPN analyst Paul Biancardi.
“Senior Jalen Ricks played very well at The St. James (event) for (Oak Hill head coach Steve) Smith,” Biancardi shared in a tweet on Friday. “Strong percentages as a 179 scorer! 49% FG, 45% 3pt, 85% FT, per @LegitSportStats. 12ppg & 9rpg. High majors coming hard.”
Justin Young, basketball analyst at HoopSeen.com, also had good things to say about Ricks’ game.
“Jalen Ricks did a little bit of everything for Oak Hill in the best bubble of HS hoops,” Young said in a recent tweet. “I think the Arkansas native was one of the most interesting available players I saw while here in Virginia.”
Ricks is averaging 13.5 points and 10.2 rebounds while shooting 45% from three-point range for 12-1 Oak Hill.
* 2022 Arkansas commit and 4-star prospect Joseph Pinion (6-6 wing, Morrilton) had a big Friday of basketball. He had a game-high 31 points to go with 8 rebounds, 7 assists, and 1 steal in a 74-71 loss against Little Rock Christian Academy in a game that he also reached the 1,000-career-points mark for Morrilton.
Pinion said he he heard from Arkansas’ “Coach Muss and Coach Williams” this week as the Hogs’ staff continues to show him he’s a priority. As for Arkansas’ bounce-back last week with two consecutive SEC wins after losing 4 out of 5 league games, Pinion said he was pleased.
“I was really excited and proud to see them bounce back and have two good games after losing pretty bad the previous games,” Pinion said.
* The Razorbacks’ coaching staff has not skipped a beat in terms of showering talented in-state prospects with recruiting attention. A mix of Arkansas coaches were in communication in recent days with Hog offers 2022 Derrian Ford (6-4 combo guard, Magnolia, composite national No. 44 / 4-star prospect); 2022 Kel’el Ware (6-11 forward / center, North Little Rock, national No. 32 / 4-star prospect according to 247Sports.com); and 2023 Bryson Warren (6-2 point guard, Little Rock Central, national No. 11 point guard in the class of 2023 according to ESPN.
“I talked to (Arkansas coaches) about 3 or 4 times this week,” Ford said. “I talked to them today (Sunday) and it was Coach Williams and the other days were Coach Muss, Coach (Earl) Boykins, Coach Clay (Moser), and Coach (Williams Hays) Myers.”
* 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) followed up his 14-point and 11-rebound performance last Saturday, Jan. 16, in a scrimmage against McLennan College with a 19-point and 6-rebound outing in a 90-65 win over Coastal Bend College on Wednesday.
* 2021 Arkansas signee Chance Moore (6-5 wing, McEachern School, ESPN national No. 73 / 4-star prospect) had 23 points (7-of-10 field goals, including 4-of-6 from 3, and 5-of-6 field goals), 7 rebounds, 3 blocks, 2 assists, and 2 steals on Friday in McEachern’s 85-61 win over Campbell High School. In his last 7 games, Moore has averaged 21.4 points, 10.3 rebounds, 1.4 blocks, and 1.1 steals.