Matt Jones is the online sports director for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A double graduate of the University of Arkansas, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, and voter for the Heisman Trophy.
Musselman: Hogs still waiting on decision from Joe
Arkansas guard Isaiah Joe (1) drives to the lane Friday, Feb. 21, 2020, as he is pressured by Missouri guard Dru Smith during the first half in Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas coach Eric Mussleman said Wednesday that guard Isaiah Joe has yet to decide whether he will return to the Razorbacks’ program next season.
Joe, who has not declared for the draft and would be a junior next season, has until Thursday to request an evaluation from the NBA’s underclassman advisory committee, and until April 26 to declare for the draft. Underclassmen have until June 3 to withdraw their name from the draft and return to college.
“I think Isaiah, he and his family still have discussions about testing the waters,” Musselman said. “Right now I’m sure the focus is probably on that decision-making process.
"I would expect him to probably test the waters. That would be my gut feeling, but again the timing is really up to Isaiah. He and his dad, we've communicated with them on feedback stuff and they have great, great questions. They're really thinking through the process and asking all the right questions."
Joe averaged 16.9 points in 26 games as a sophomore and would likely be Arkansas’ top returning scorer next season. Mason Jones, the SEC co-player of the year who averaged 22 points, declared for the draft March 27.
In a radio interview April 9 on The Morning Rush, Jones said “there’s a good chance that I’m going to stay in the draft and take on bigger challenges.”
Musselman indicated Wednesday that Jones was still leaning toward remaining in the draft.
“From all indications it sounds like that’s the challenge he’s looking toward,” Musselman said. “We kind of supply the feedback we’ve gotten from NBA teams to Mason and his family, and it’s up to them. We’ve done all the research we can do up to this point. We’ve talked to 23 NBA teams, supplied them the information and we support all of our guys in any of their professional aspirations. We’re behind them 100 percent whatever decision they make. The only thing we can do is provide information through our multiple, many, many contacts that we have.”
Several mock drafts have Joe as a potential mid-to-late second round pick in the draft, while Jones is considered more of a long shot to be drafted.
Musselman said that Joe, if he returns, could fill some of the same offensive roles Jones did this year when he led the SEC in scoring.
“I think for sure, if he comes back, we want Isaiah to be in more ball-handling situations,” Musselman said. “I think he can do that at that off-guard spot as well. We want to put Isaiah in more pick-and-roll situations and isolation type things we used Mason with.”
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