FAYETTEVILLE– So far, so good. That’s the story for Eric Musselman, who was officially introduced as Arkansas’ new head basketball coach just over two weeks ago.
This past weekend, Musselman and the Hogs added their first new piece to the 2019-20 roster in UNC-Wilmington grad-transfer forward Jeantal Cylla, who committed during his official visit in Fayetteville. Cylla offers plenty of experience and a solid stat line after averaging 13.7 points and 4.6 rebounds per game as a junior last season, and while he’s not huge at 6-7, 215, the Razorbacks could use a veteran forward in the rotation.
The new head man is also pushing all the right buttons with the fan base by sending out short video clips of high-energy practices and welcoming some of the program’s greatest former players back to the facility.
In recruiting, Musselman will continue hosting other potential transfers over the next few weekends, but there is one player in particular that could potentially create an even bigger wave of momentum for the new head Hog: Kyree Walker.
If Musselman wants to make a huge splash early in his tenure and ignite the fan base in a way that hasn’t been done in years, getting Walker would do the trick.
Walker is a five-star guard/small forward from Phoenix (Ariz.) Hillcrest Prep, and his offer list already includes some of college basketball’s top programs, such as Arizona, Kansas, UCLA, LSU, Memphis, Virginia and others.
The 6-5, 195-pound wing is currently a junior in high school, but due to his academic standing he is reportedly leaning toward reclassifying to the class of 2019 and joining a college program by the end of this summer.
That could spell very good news for Musselman, who, prior to taking the Arkansas job, was already being predicted by national recruiting experts to land Walker’s signature at Nevada.
Last week, 247Sports national basketball analyst Jerry Meyer made a new “Crystal Ball” prediction for Arkansas to land Walker’s commitment, saying Walker is expected to set up a trip to Fayetteville soon and that all of the behind-the-scenes talk still strongly favors Walker reclassifying to this year’s class.
To understand the significance of Arkansas possibly landing a blue chip prospect like Walker, one must first realize – or in some cases, come to grips with – just how few elite players have chosen the Hogs over the last 15-20 years.
It’s been nearly a decade – 8 years to be exact – since the Razorbacks last signed a five-star who wasn’t from the Natural State. That was St. Louis native and 2011 signee B.J. Young, who went un-drafted after two All-SEC seasons with the Razorbacks.
Prior to Young, Arkansas’ most recent five-star signee was Al Jefferson in 2004, back when players could jump straight to the NBA out of high school. That’s the route Jefferson took, and it was the right one as he became the 15th overall pick and spent 14 seasons in the association.
Getting Walker would do more than end a recruiting drought, though. In addition to adding a super-athletic playmaker and turning heads on the national recruiting scene, landing Walker might also help with his four-star teammate, 2020 small forward Dalen Terry.
One hour prior to his introductory press conference earlier this month, Musselman’s first recruiting move was offering Walker and Terry scholarships to Arkansas.
The two are close friends, and while the latter isn’t in position to reclassify to this year’s class, most seem to believe there’s a good chance the duo will continue to play together in college.