Richard Davenport covers recruiting for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. He appears weekly on The Red Zone w/ JB on 92.1 FM Fayetteville, The Morning Rush w/ Tye & Tommy on 95.3 FM in Fort Smith; 96.3 FM in Hot Springs; 104.3 FM in Harrison/Mountain Home, 99.5 FM in Fayetteville and The Zone w/ Justin & Wess on 103.7 FM in Little Rock.
The Recruiting Guy:
Hogs land ESPN 5-star Baye Fall
Arkansas coach Eric Musselman and 5-star big man Baye Fall.
Arkansas and fourth-year head coach Eric Musselman have landed the signature of ESPN 5-star big man Baye Fall.
Fall, 6-11, 217 pounds, of Denver Accelerated Schools, picked the Razorbacks over other finalists Auburn, Rutgers and Seton Hall during a 5:30 p.m. ceremony on Tuesday.
He made an unofficial visit to Arkansas for the Razorbacks’ 75-73 victory over Kentucky on Feb. 26, and officially visited Fayetteville for the Alabama football game weekend of Sept. 30-Oct. 2. Fall said he told Musselman he was going to be a Razorback last Thursday.
“I just called Coach Muss, you know, just a little conversation like we always do, and I just happened to ask him a few questions and I told him,” Fall said. “He was really excited. I'd never heard him talk like that before, scream like that before, in my life, so it was really exciting for him, I guess.”
Razorbacks fans also made a major impact on Fall.
“The atmosphere there is just crazy,” Fall said. “The fans…this is a fun fact: We went there on an unofficial visit to watch them play Kentucky and I had to watch the game on the (big screen) because the fans wouldn’t sit down. Like, I couldn’t see the court or nothing, and I had a good seat, too. That just shows you how crazy they go for their sports.”
Fall was a standout at the prestigious NBPA Top 100 camp in late June and early July, when he led the event in scoring at 14.9 points per game, had a camp-leading 9.4 rebounds and an event-leading 4.9 offensive rebounds.
He becomes the program’s fourth ESPN 5-star prospect in the last two years. ESPN also rates him the No. 3 center and No. 20 overall prospect in the nation in the 2023 class. Arkansas point guard signee Layden Blocker is a 247 Sports composite 5-star prospect.
Musselman was elated with the addition of Fall.
“We are extremely excited about the addition of Baye Fall to our program,” Musselman said. “Baye has been a top priority for our coaching staff since the beginning of our tenure at Arkansas.”
He and ESPN 4-star and teammate Assane Diop played for the Colorado Hawks in the spring and summer under the direction of Hawks director Greg Willis, who is a Fort Smith native.
Willis and Arkansas great Ron Brewer led Fort Smith Northside to a 30-0 season and overall state championship in 1974.
Fall praised his relationship with Musselman and second-year recruiting coordinator Ronnie Brewer.
“My relationship with Ronnie Brewer, he played a big role in this,” Fall said. “He recruited me the hardest.”
Fall also cited assistant coaches Keith Smart and Anthony Ruta, and the entire staff for making him feel at home.
“All of them – Coach Smart, Coach Ruta, everybody else,” Fall said. “The (graduate assistants), everybody. They made it feel like home when I went there. It just felt like a family thing.”
ESPN national director of recruiting Paul Biancardi attended the NBPA Top 100 camp.
“Fall makes his mark by outworking his opponent,” Biancardi said in an earlier interview. “His game is productive on the glass and scoring paint points in a variety of ways. (He) could be a tenacious offensive put-back threat as well as finishing drop-off passes or as a lob catcher. When he get an angle to the rim, he is a force. A long frame that has vertical explosion and lateral agility.
“His shooting touch is coming along, and his three-point shot is capable at this point.”
Diop, 6-10, 194 pounds, pledged to Colorado over Arkansas and Seton Hall.
Faye, Diop and Denver Accelerated Schools are scheduled to play in the Big Show Tip-Off Showcase at Fort Smith Northside on Nov. 19.
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