Wally Hall is the managing sports editor for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Arkansas-Little Rock after an honorable discharge from the U.S. Air Force, he is a member and past president of the Football Writers Association of America, member of the U.S. Basketball Writers Association, past president and current executive committee and board member of the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame, and voter for the Heisman Trophy. He has been awarded Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year 10 times and has been inducted into the Arkansas Sportswriters and Sportscasters Hall of Fame.
Like It Is:
Another busy offseason underway
Arkansas coach Eric Musselman looks on, Saturday, Feb. 18, 2023, during the second half of the Razorbacks’ 84-65 win over the Florida Gators at Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville.
By this time last year, it was pretty apparent Eric Musselman was going to basically have a new basketball team this season.
Only Davonte Davis and Kamani Johnson had ever worn an Arkansas Razorback jersey or played in the SEC.
The team that made it to the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 for the third consecutive year had five true freshmen and five transfers.
Currently, four Razorbacks who have eligibility have said they are leaving or at least thinking about it. Johnson, of course, ran out of eligibility.
To no one’s surprise, Nick Smith has declared for the NBA, which he should do since he appears to be a lottery pick, which means a minimum of $10 million guaranteed over the next three years.
Exactly where Smith is going is anyone’s guess, but after studying 10 NBA mock drafts he’s apparently going somewhere from the seventh to 16th pick.
All of the mock drafts agree the No. 1 pick, who will make about $29 million for his three-year rookie contract, is 7-2 Victor Wembanyama, a 19-year-old from France who plays professionally for Metropolitans 92.
Davis is testing the NBA waters and will have until May 31 to decide to return to college or pursue professional basketball.
In a bit of a surprise, Ricky Council declared for the draft. A popular theory was that if Smith was leaving, the 6-6 junior might return.
Makhel Mitchell, 6-10, is going to enter the transfer portal and try his luck at his fourth school in five years.
His twin brother Makhi, 6-9, has not said what he is going to do. He would benefit from another year under Musselman, who runs a pro-style offense. Late in the season, Makhi showed moves in the paint he had kept to himself all season.
He and his brother have always played together, roomed together and did everything together, but Makhi seemed to like the UA and perhaps Musselman more than his brother.
Among those returning is 6-10 Trevon Brazile. Some of his reason for staying is because he is still rehabbing from a December knee surgery and will not be a ready for the NBA combine camp in May.
Jalen Graham, 6-9, has said he is returning and it is believed Morrilton’s Joseph Pinion, a 6-5 freshman, and Magnolia’s Derrian Ford, a 6-3 freshman, will be back, leaving three to decide their next step.
An announcement is expected soon that Anthony Black will be entering the NBA Draft. One of the reasons he hasn’t already announced may have been he was busy getting ready for Saturday’s youth basketball camp he had at Fayetteville High School.
In all 10 of the mock drafts, Black had moved ahead of Smith, ranging anywhere from the fifth pick to the 12th. Black was the only Razorback to start all 36 games this season. He averaged 34.8 minutes per game, was the second-leading scorer behind Council with 12.8 points per game, and had 141 assists and 74 steals.
He’s a true point guard at 6-7.
Freshman Jordan Walsh, who started 22 games and averaged 7.1 points and 4.4 rebounds per game, is a 6-7 forward who most likely will follow Davis and at least test the NBA waters.
That leaves Barry Dunning Jr., a 6-6 freshman from Mobile, Ala., who played in 16 games, mostly nonconference.
Musselman has a commitment from Washington freshman guard Keyon Menifield, who was named to the Pac-12 All-Freshman team after averaging 10 points, 2.9 rebounds and a team-leading 3.1 assists. He was third on the team with 36 steals.
Musselman and his staff are practically living in the transfer portal, and they always seem to sign some surprises.
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