Much of the recruiting talk to top prospects for Eric Mousselman is that he had an NBA draft pick in each of his seasons at Arkansas, and it appears the sale was a success as the Razorbacks have a stockpile of pro talent on the roster for the upcoming season. .
With Moses Moody becoming the first one-and-done in the program’s history and Isaiah Joe and Jaylin Williams getting called out on draft nights, Musselman also managed to double down on stacking playoff wins and successes to make Arkansas one of the hottest destinations for elite players, whether either through high school ranks or through the transfer portal.
According to 247Sports, Arkansas welcomes in the nation’s No. 2 high school class to accompany the No. 6-ranked Portal Transport. The 11-man class joins davonte davis and Kamani Johnson to give the Hogs a roster built to win with as much top-notch talent as anyone.
“We have six freshmen here this year,” Musselman said. “I think the way you build your team is how to accumulate as many pieces that match high-level talent, whether it’s freshmen or transfers.
“We do so many statistical things. Todd Lee broke down every game of the last four minutes of last year – every possession of the last four minutes, and he and I went through them and the rhyme or the reason why we did something, why we didn’t call from timeout here, don’t call a timeout there. And we do the same with roster management.”
Musselman has been quoted numerous times since taking over at Arkansas as saying that basically every night at the SEC means facing future NBA players, and he’s not exaggerating. The league has produced 33 draft picks in the past three years alone, including 18 first-round picks and eight lottery picks. That doesn’t seem to be slowing down any time soon, either, as nearly 40% of five-star Class of 2022 prospects are on their way to SEC programs.
The way Musselman sees it, for a team to consistently win in the SEC, it must be able to compete against elite talent. His research also shows that the creme de la creme on draft night comes through the high school ranks rather than the transfer route.
As for the SEC picks referenced above, six of the eight lottery picks were genuine freshmen and the other two were non-transfer sophomores. Of 18 first-round selections, only two – Auburn’s Walker Kesler and the LSUs Tari Reason — were transfers.
Looking at Arkansas’ roster for the upcoming season, there’s a trio of five-star freshman McDonald’s All-Americans in Nick Smith, Anthony Black and Jordan Walch who stand out as fitting the mold and are considered future lottery or first-round picks by most reputable publications. NBADraftRoom, for example, has Smith third, Black fifth and Walsh 11th in the 2023 draft. CBS Sports places the trio fourth, ninth and 22nd, respectively.
“One year we had one freshman. One year we had four freshmen, now we have six,” Musselman said. “I have no idea what the roster will look like. What I do know, doing a statistical analysis and a deep dive, there aren’t many lottery picks that are transfers, I can tell you say it now, because I studied There are not many transfers in the first round.
“And the only way to win in the SEC is a lot easier if you have lottery picks. If you don’t have lottery picks, you have to have draft picks. That’s a chilling fact. , and I’m sure if Coach Pittman and I had switched chairs right now and he was sitting here, he’d probably be saying that in SEC football you have to have draft picks. must also have freshmen, that’s for sure.
Aside from crunching numbers, Musselman continued to punch into the portal often. While having elite young talent clearly makes a difference, having experienced and veteran players is also a key ingredient to winning at a high level in college basketball. That said, Musselman may have a few transfers himself to add to the SEC’s draft list in the future if they continue to grow toward their lofty caps.
At least the guys like Tip Ricky and Trevon Brazil have real professional potential. Can Council become a consistent three-point shooter to complement his elite athleticism, outburst, and crafty play ability? If so, he’s got a real shot. Scouts are already drooling over Brazile, who at 6-10 with a 7-4 wingspan, has already shown the ability to play well over the rim at both ends and space the floor with his jumper. As he adds strength, consistency, and confidence to his grip, a first-round rating is a realistic possibility.
Arkansas would be a nightmare for opponents if they lacked a five-man roster comprised of Smith, Black, Council, Walsh and Brazile, and that only scratches the surface of the depth and versatility available throughout the game. listing. Of course, talent alone doesn’t guarantee success, but it does lay a promising foundation for what is shaping up to be an exciting season of Razorback basketball.