Nate Allen is a columnist for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Missouri, Allen is a voter for the Heisman Trophy, has been inducted into the Arkansas Sportswriters and Sportscasters Hall of Fame, and has authored three books about the Razorbacks.
Musselman gives insight into recruiting strategy
Eric Musselman speaks at a press conference after his introduction as the new head coach of men's basketball at the University of Arkansas by Athletic Director Hunter Yurachek Monday, April 8, 2019 in Bud Walton Arena on the campus in Fayetteville. During the previous four seasons, Musselman coached the University of Nevada in Reno to a 110-34 record.
FAYETTEVILLE — Eric Musselman relied on transfers during his four years coaching University of Nevada basketball in Reno like Reno’s economy relies on slot machines and blackjack.
That reliance likely won’t disappear just because he’s in Arkansas now coaching the Razorbacks. And it shouldn’t.
The Razorbacks have a transfer tradition of their own.
Martin Terry in the Lanny Van Eman era; Ron Brewer, Darrell Walker and Alvin Robertson for Eddie Sutton; Lenzie Howell, Corey Beck, Dwight Stewart and Jannero Pargo for Nolan Richardson; and Jaylen Barford and Daryl Macon for Mike Anderson rank among the Razorbacks elite who transferred to the University of Arkansas via junior college.
Joe Kleine via Notre Dame to Sutton and Dusty Hannahs via Texas Tech to Anderson come to mind as notable Razorbacks who transferred from D-1 schools.
Current Razorbacks point guard Jalen Harris first played for New Mexico.
This burgeoning area of the NCAA transfer portal and immediately-eligible graduate transfers spreads transfers like kudzu throughout the college basketball landscape.
Still, an Arkansas program with its high school and AAU basketball tradition and the tradition of its native sons yearning to be Razorbacks - plus abounding talent bordering our state in Memphis, Texas, Louisiana and Tulsa - create a recruiting a foundation starting with freshmen that sparsely populated Nevada doesn’t have nearly so readily.
So, yes, said Musselman, the Razorbacks’ new basketball coach since Sunday, his recruiting gears shifted as he shifted from Reno to Fayetteville.
“I think so without a doubt,” Musselman said Monday during his introduction to Arkansas press conference at Walton Arena “There hasn’t been a high school playing within driving distance where I was at my prior stop that we recruited heavily except for a couple of guys that we did get.”
And he did get more freshmen for the University of Nevada than most realize, Musselman said of his four Wolf Pack years and 110-34 record.
“For sure at Nevada transfers have been a big part of our success there,” Musselman said. “But people don’t talk enough about the freshmen that we did bring in, Lindsey Drew and Cameron Oliver, in our first recruiting class really are what started the foundation, two incoming freshmen that were Pac-12 commits that played for us. Then last year we got a McDonald’s All-American in Jordan Brown.”
Musselman’s Arkansas recruiting started the Sunday he hit town with those he inherits from Anderson. For this first season they are the most important recruits he’ll have.
The March reunion of the 1994 Razorbacks national championship basketball team and February reunion of the Razorbacks’ 1979 first-ever Southwest Conference champion indoor track team are followed by this weekend’s Razorbacks’ men’s tennis reunion.
At least 63 tennis alums assembled Friday, says Robert Cox, the retired Razorbacks coach and event organizer still in UA administration.
Ron Hightower, the former Razorbacks coach and All-American player, and Pat Serret, the Razorbacks NCAA Doubles champion with the late Peter Doohan, are among those listed as attending.
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