Musselman's transfer portal interest is due diligence

By: Dudley E. Dawson
Published: Thursday, March 19, 2020
Eric Musselman directs his players in Arkansas' game against Mississippi State at Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville on February 15, 2020.
Photo by David Beach
Eric Musselman directs his players in Arkansas' game against Mississippi State at Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville on February 15, 2020.

— It is seems like soon after a college basketball player enters his name in the NCAA’s transfer portal news comes that he has been contacted by Arkansas.

Razorbacks coach Eric Musselman said Thursday that is just part of his program doing its due diligence and not to be taken as a sign he is looking for a massive roster turnover.

He has three transfer players who sat out this season due to NCAA rules, signed Jacksonville standout Davonte Davis (6-4, 175) in the early signing period and has pledges Moses Moody (6-6, 190), Khalen “KK” Robinson (6-1, 180) and Jaylin Williams (6-10, 230) to sign during the April 15-May 20 late signing period.

“So much is put on social media about certain programs contacting. I mean, it is our job to do due diligence on every available player whether it be a high school player, whether it is a transfer,” Musselman said. “I mean, right now the whole world has come to a stop except the basketball transfer portal, and that moves at a quicker rate than anything in the world almost.

“It’s guys that put their names in, but I would say just like when you do due diligence on a high school player, you know? You are diving into the player, you might make an initial phone call, but then you watch film and you might say, ‘Hey, not really what we need,’ or ‘Not the size that the SEC needs.’”

Musselman also mentioned that he and his staff have an analytical approach that helps them determine whether a transfer could help the program.

“We kind of come up with a formula on guys that transfer up - low majors or mid majors - and you try to have a formula to spit out those stats and what those would mean at our level,” Musselman said.

“I mean it is our job, we are still working even if we are not working in the normal office environment, but we are still working around the clock. Last night, I didn’t put the phone down until 11:30 p.m. and it was the first night in a while that I did not watch a TV show with my wife, because the number of the people in the transfer portal and we’re calling our own recruits, we are calling our own players, so we are actually on the phone. I have been on the phone more in the last week than maybe I have in five years of being in college basketball.”

Under NCAA rules, Musselman is only allowed to talk about Davis until the other three prep stars sign their national letter-of-intents.

Davis, nicknamed Devo, is averaging 20 points, 10 rebounds, 8 assists and 3 steals for the Titans (20-5), who were a little more than 24 hours from playing West Memphis (26-4) in the Class 5A state championship in Hot Springs before it and other title games were postponed due to concerns regarding the coronavirus.

“I think Devo, he does things that you can’t coach,” Musselman said. “In basketball, for any coach at any level, guys that can go get their own shots or create a shot for a teammate, those guys who have a unique ability to get by their own man when the play breaks down, becomes so important. We feel like Devo has that ability. He’s crafty. He’s shifty. He changes gear really quick. All those things are things you can’t teach.

“Obviously he’s got good length for his size. We look at it like he can play two positions, the 1 and 2. He knows how to score. He’s got great court vision. Obviously, the thing that’s going to be really important is just consistency from a shooting standpoint once we start our player development program.”

As for the status of the late signing period, Musselman is unsure what will happen.

“I really haven’t heard much,” Musselman said. “I think all of this stuff is, it’s almost like what we hear today might change tomorrow. What we hear tomorrow might change by next Thursday. So, I mean, I guess the best way to say it is that we as coaches know no different than anybody else.

"We’re just kind of waiting to see how all of this unfolds, whether it’s the signing period, NBA draft dates, all of that stuff is so fluctuating.”

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