Richard Davenport covers recruiting for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. He is the host of Recruiting Thursday, a weekly radio show that airs from 7 to 8 p.m. on 92.1 FM in Fayetteville; 93.7 FM in Little Rock; 95.3 FM in Fort Smith; 96.3 FM in Hot Springs; 104.3 FM in Harrison/Mountain Home; and 106.9 FM in Arkadelphia.
The Recruiting Guy:
Ford wasting no time visiting Fayetteville
Magnolia guard Derrian Ford (20) is shown during a game March 6, 2020, in Farmington.
Magnolia guard and ESPN 4-star prospect Derrian Ford will be one of two top recruits headlining a list of highly regarded prospects to officially visit the University of Arkansas in June.
Ford, 6-4, 205 pounds, has 27 scholarship offers that include Arkansas, Florida, LSU, Baylor, Kansas, Alabama, Texas A&M, Auburn, TCU, Oklahoma State, Vanderbilt, Ole Miss and others.
He and North Little Rock center Kel’el Ware will arrive in Fayetteville on Tuesday for the start of their first official visits.
Ford’s only visit to see Coach Eric Musselman’s program was in August before his sophomore year. The coronavirus pandemic forced the NCAA to an enact a dead period in March 2020, which put an end to visits to college campuses and limited prospects to phone calls and Zoom meetings with coaches.
His relationship with Arkansas is strong despite the lack of in-person interaction.
“My family and I have been able to get on a lot of Zooms with the Arkansas coaching staff, and we just feel like it feels like we’ve been knowing each other,” Ford said.
Tuesday will be the first day prospects are allowed to visit schools again. Ford is looking forward to seeing Musselman and his staff face-to-face.
“Just building a relationship with the coaches,” Ford said of what he wants out of the visit. “Building it up more because we’ve been having these virtual meetings, but this time it will be a physical meeting.”
Gathering information about the day-to-day life of an athlete is on his to-do list.
“How they go to the classes?” Ford said. “How they get the schedule? How they’re able to get from class to class? How practices go? How they eat in the cafeteria?”
After his trip to Arkansas, Ford will leave for the prestigious Pangos All American Camp in Las Vegas on June 6-8. He’ll return to Fayetteville to attend Arkansas’ two-day camp June 12-13
ESPN also rates him the No. 8 shooting guard and No. 42 overall recruit for the 2022 class. Ford was named the Class 4A Player of the Year by the Arkansas Basketball Coaches Association after averaging 23 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists per game as a junior.
With Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s signature, Arkansas became the 11th state on April 21 to allow student-athletes to profit off their name, image and likeness.
Ford said the Arkansas staff members want to show how they’ll help market him so he can maximize his earning potential under the new legislation.
“That’s very important,” he said.
He spoke with new assistant coaches Keith Smart and Gus Argenal last week.
“Over the phone, they seem like very nice people and they seem like they’re very interested in me and see how I go about my everyday life,” Ford said.
Musselman signed the ESPN’s No. 5 class in 2020, which featured Arkansans Moses Moody, Davonte Davis, Jaylin Williams and Khalen Robinson. Ford said their success makes the Razorbacks more attractive.
“I think it showed a lot of people across the country that Arkansas has amazing players,” Ford said. “The freshmen did a great job, and Moses is getting ready to enter into the draft. He had a great season.
“As far as Davonte Davis, he had a great season as well and Jaylin Williams had a great season. I know [Robinson] didn’t get to play that much, but I’m pretty sure if he had played they would’ve had an even better season.”
Ford plans to talk things over with his family before making his college decision.
“I say it’s just me talking to my family and just me having a feeling of a school that’s going to feel like home even if I’m not at home,” he said. “A coach that’s going to be straightforward with me and better my abilities to the level I want to play at and just let me play my game, but also he’s going to coach me into being a better player.”
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