The Recruiting Guy:

Musselman's early interest wins over 1st UA signee

Published: Tuesday, April 23, 2019
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.
Photo by David Gottschalk
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.

University of Arkansas forward signee Jeantal Cylla's faith in Coach Eric Musselman's track record with graduate transfers along with his relationship with assistant coach Scotty Thurman and Anthony Ruta led him to sign with the Hogs on Saturday.

Cylla, 6-7, 215 pounds, averaged 13.7 points and 4.6 rebounds while shooting 42 percent from the field and 31 percent on three-pointers last season as a junior at North Carolina-Wilmington before entering the NCAA transfer portal in late March. He'll be immediately eligible to play for the 2019-20 season.

He was fond of his time at UNC-Wilmington, but he wanted the best option to fulfill his dream of playing in the NBA, and that's where the Razorbacks come in.

"Coach Musselman has proven that he's had guys that have come to him for one year, and they've succeeded and were able to buy into his system," Cylla said.

Cylla arrived in Fayetteville on Friday for an official visit and left Sunday. Musselman's persistence led Cylla to take a hard look at Arkansas.

"When I put my name into the portal, Nevada was one of the first schools to reach out to me, and Coach Musselman and his staff really showed a lot of interest," Cylla said. "They called me every day and pretty much stayed consistent."

He reportedly received interest from Virginia Tech, Wisconsin, Georgia, Georgia Tech, San Diego State, Oregon State and others after entering the portal.

Because of Musselman's hard work, the Hogs got Cylla's first visit.

"I felt like I owed him that," he said.

He hit it off with Thurman during the visit while learning about the former Razorback's career, which included making the high-arching three-pointer to help defeat Duke for the 1994 national championship.

"I didn't know too much about him, but as I was asking my mentor and old coaches if they knew who Scotty Thurman was, they were like, 'Scotty Thurman, he's a legend.' I did my research and figured out he was on that championship team. I saw his jersey at a couple of restaurants around town."

Thurman's resume in the college and professional ranks has Cylla looking forward to learning from him.

"He's been there and done that," Cylla said. "He's been on the national stage, and he's really respected in Arkansas. He's a pretty cool dude, a player's coach. It's always good to have a player's coach on the staff."

Cylla joked with Thurman about the possibility of making a name for himself at Arkansas.

"I was like, 'Man, it's time to pass the torch,' " Cylla said. "I want to be the next Scotty Thurman. I told him that and he said, 'We'll see, we'll see.' He's a really humble guy. You wouldn't know who he was by knowing him."

Ruta, who was an assistant to Musselman at Nevada, is in Fayetteville and has been working with the team, but his status hasn't been announced officially.

"He developed a relationship with me, and he's been consistent," Cylla said. "He actually flew down to see me during the recruiting process."

Cylla starred at Lake Worth Christian in Florida before signing with Florida Atlantic in 2015. He averaged 9.7 points and 3.5 rebounds as a freshman and 7.1 points and 3.4 rebounds as a sophomore. He transferred from Florida Atlantic after his sophomore season and sat out the 2017-18 season.

He quickly learned about the passion of Razorback fans after he announced his commitment to Arkansas.

"The town and the community on social media welcomed me and gave me compliments, and I appreciated that," Cylla said. "It meant a lot. First and foremost, it let me know that the fans and the community are really behind Arkansas, and they're excited about the new era."

Email Richard Davenport at [email protected]

Sports on 04/23/2019

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