The Recruiting Guy:

UA basketball staff hits road for July talent search

By: Richard Davenport
Published: Tuesday, July 11, 2017
Arkansas coach Mike Anderson gestures against North Dakota State Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2016, during the second half of play in Bud Walton Arena.
Photo by Andy Shupe
Arkansas coach Mike Anderson gestures against North Dakota State Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2016, during the second half of play in Bud Walton Arena.

Arkansas Razorbacks men's basketball coach Mike Anderson and his staff will be scouting talent nationwide Wednesday through Sunday during the first of three NCAA-sanctioned evaluation periods in July.

Coaches are also allowed to evaluate talent on the road July 19-23 and July 26-30.

The Hogs have Class of 2018 commitments from guard Isaiah Joe, 6-4, 170, of Fort Smith Northside; guard Desi Sills, 6-1, 170, of Jonesboro; and forward Ethan Henderson, 6-9, 190, of Little Rock Parkview.

Junior point guard Justice Hill, 5-10, 160, of Little Rock Christian, is committed for the 2019 class.

All four 2018 commitments play for the 17-under Arkansas Hawks. The Razorbacks lost the commitment of Arkansas Hawks power forward Reggie Perry, 6-10, 225, of Thomasville, Ga, last week.

Arkansas is looking to add three more players to the 2018 class, and have their eye on approximately 20 prospects, who will be participating at events like the Nike EYBL, Under Armour, Adidas AAU circuits, JUCO Showcases and other tournaments.

"We're trying to finish up this 2018 class, which is a huge class for us and we have a good start on it," assistant TJ Cleveland said.

The Razorbacks will be looking to replace the scoring of Daryl Macon and Jaylen Barford, who are entering their final season of eligibility.

Macon and Barford accounted for 26.2 points per game last season, their first with the Razorbacks.

"We'll definitely have to step it up in that area in trying to find some guys that can score at guard and wing position and also some size that can play and fit what we do and some versatile size at that," Cleveland said.

Mental and physical toughness, basketball IQ, instincts and high character are part of evaluation process, along with the obvious focus on talent.

"If you look at around league, our league has upgraded talent all across the board," Cleveland said. "So we definitely have to make sure we stay in that ballpark and get guys that can come in and compete for championships and play for championships and guys that are not only good enough athletically, but also IQ-wise and just know how to play the game."

Arkansas' 2017 class featured in-state talent, starting with El Dorado power forward Daniel Gafford, 6-11, 220, a consensus 4-star prospect and top 50 player; and Little Rock Parkview guard Khalil Garland, 6-6, 190, who was rated as the nation's No. 12 guard and No. 55 player overall.

Mills wingman Darius hall, 6-7, 210; and forward Gabe Osabuohien, 6-8, 219, of Southwest Christian Academy in Little Rock, rounded out the class.

NCAA rules forbid college coaches from commenting on prospects, it's known the Razorbacks are looking at some younger in-state talent: West Memphis sophomore and 15-under Arkansas Wings forward Chris Moore, 6-6, 200; North Little Rock sophomore and 15-under Team Superstar South guard Moses Moody, 6-5, 170; and Episcopal sophomore and 16-under Arkansas Hawks guard Khalen Robinson, 6-0, 160.

Moore has scholarship offers from schools like Memphis, SMU and TCU; Moody is drawing interest from the Razorbacks and numerous others after an outstanding spring. He played last season at Little Rock Parkview.

Being aware of young in-state talent is vital, Cleveland said.

"We have to make sure we get a head start and build a relationship with younger kids and the people around them," Cleveland said.

Under Anderson, the Hogs emphasize a team approach to recruiting prospects and their families.

"We don't get caught up in, 'This is my guy, that's his guy' because sometimes on staffs that creates tension and dissension," Cleveland said. "We make sure everybody is involved to the point even our wives are involved in getting to know a prospect. That just helps us when a kid and his family get on campus because they're familiar with everybody on our staff."

The entire Razorbacks staff has input when evaluating.

"Coach likes it when we recruit a kid that everybody gets a chance to see him and put their two cents into the evaluation process part of it," Cleveland said. "So it's great especially for guys like myself, young coaches who aspire to be head coaches, to learn from Coach Anderson."

E-mail Richard Davenport at rdavenport@arkansasonline.com

Sports on 07/11/2017

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