By Kevin McPherson

LITTLE ROCK — The Arkansas Razorbacks coaching staff has not shied away from recruiting 5-star talent from all parts of the country, and the mutal interest runs high for the Hoop Hogs and top-shelf 2024 prospect Amier Ali.

Ali (6-8 guard/wing, IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., via Dallas-Forth Worth, ESPN national No. 13 / 5-star prospect) picked up his Hog offer last summer after Arkansas coaches got to see him play with Houston Hoops on the Nike EYBL circuit, according to Ali’s father, Mohamed Ali.

“They (Hog coaches) offered him in the summertime when he was playing for Houston Hoops,” Mohamed Ali told during a Tuesday afternoon interview. “They said ‘Amir, you’ve got a scholarship to Arkansas, let’s build a relationship and we’ll go from there.’ And ever since then, we’ve been talking and texting a lot.”

Head Hog Eric Musselman has been the front-and-center point man in Amier Ali’s recruitment.

“Coach Musselman is the main guy we talk to,” Mohamed Ali said. “He’s the one who always texts us to see how we’re doing, and he’s always aware of Amier’s games, his schedule. He always texts us and calls to tell us ‘Congrats.’ He’s been contacting us. He’s a great coach. He’s coached at the highest level, he’s coached in the NBA.

“One of the things that most attracted us to Arkansas is how he plays his freshmen. He’s playing Anthony Black, and he’s playing Jordan Walsh. And they’re all freshmen. If you look at the colleges, who’s doing that right now honestly? Maybe Duke and Arkansas … Amier wants to play for a progam where he can play through his mistakes and make sure that he develops on the court and makes sure that he’s coached hard. Arkansas runs a lot, and I like that for Amier. And Amier loves it, too, because he can get in shape. So, all that combined with the head coach’s history and a coaching staff that prepares players, it’s a no-brainer that it’s one of the best schools in the country.”

The coaching staff’s NBA experience and track record sending players to the league is attactive to prospective one-and-done talents, including Amier Ali.

“He’s got two more years to develop at the high school level, to get stronger,” Mohamed Ali said of his son. “The kid works hard. He’s pretty much basketball and education all day. His goal is to be drafted in the NBA, and he’s working towards his goal.

“Arkansas, basically it’s a really good program to get you to the destination you want, obviously to the NBA. He (Musselman) does a really good job, and that’s one of the reasons we’re coming (to visit). That’s our target, one-and-done, with the help of God and the help of the coaching staff, and the hard work of Amier.”

Mohamed Ali said he is looking to visit Arkansas twice, potentially to take in both a game and a practice, followed by an official visit by his son a bit later.

“They (Hog coaches) would love for us to come to campus, and we are going to be visiting very soon,” Mohamed Ali said. “Timetable I’m not sure, but somewhere probably right after the season … I think as soon as the season is finished, that is one of the big schools we want to go for an official visit.”

Although the Ali’s do not have previous ties with Arkansas’ coaching staff, there is a relationship with another 5-star prospect from the 2024 class who the Razorbacks are recruiting.

“Isaiah (Elohim) from Sierra Canyon, that’s one of his best friends,” Mohamed Ali said. “They always talk about Arkansas.”

He’s referring to 2024 Arkansas target Isaiah Elohim (6-5 guard, Sierra Canyon in Calif., composite national No. 12 / 5-star prospect), who picked up his Hog offer on a call from Musselman in late December.

Elohim has also expressed interest in visiting Arkansas in the near future.

Amier Ali — he played at Montverde Academy in Florida last season before landing at IMG Academy for the 2022-23 campaign — has something else in common with Elohim: Both are big, versatile guards.

“Amier is a big guard that can dribble the ball, he’s gifted with court vision,” Mohamed Ali said. “He can shoot the ball. Defense is coming along, and that’s something that we’re targeting this summer and his senior year of high school so he can defend at a high level. Right now, he could defend the 1 through 4. He’s a pass-first guard, always trying to facilitate.”

In addition to the Hogs, Amier Ali holds scholarship offers from Kentucky, Kansas, UCLA, Texas, Memphis, Ohio State, Alabama, LSU, Mississippi State, Texas Tech, Arizona State, Florida State, Kansas State, Oregon State, Virginia Tech, and Wake Forest among others.