Head Hog Always Hungry
Eric Musselman proved his worth on the court countless times last season, but his biggest impact has yet to be felt. In his first full offseason with the Razorbacks, Musselman brought in a nationally ranked Top 10 recruiting class in the country, even landing as high as #5 on some recruiting lists. This class consists of four freshmen with Arkansas ties all ranked on the ESPN Top 100. This doesn’t account for the six transfers Musselman acquired through the transfer portal set to take the court for the first time this season. The man has been relentless in his pursuit to bring Arkansas basketball back to the pinnacle of collegiate sports.
However, he’s still not satisfied. Less than a month after Musselman’s first full class of recruits stepped on campus, he landed yet another massive addition. This time to the coaching staff. David Patrick, former UC Irvine head coach, is set to join Musselman’s staff as the new Associate Head Coach.
Pre-Razorbacks Coaching Experience
Patrick has played and coached basically all over the world. His collegiate career started in Syracuse in 1995; the year after the National Champion Razorbacks beat them out of the NCAA tournament. He later played college ball in Louisiana and then professionally overseas before turning his career to coaching. Patrick has had assistant coaching stints at Nicholls State, St. Mary’s, LSU, and TCU. He was then a scout for the Houston Rockets before accepting a head coaching job at UC Irvine where he currently holds the best 2-year start in school coaching history.
In a recent interview on 103.7 The Buzz, Patrick mentions how his well-traveled career has improved his basketball knowledge.
“I’ve taken so much, from being on the floor, to recruiting, to running a program, from so many great coaches. I think it’s allowed me to see different ways to skin a cat. Not everyone is that fortunate. I’ve been in a lot of environments [both] nationally and internationally…I think that can help me as a coach as I grow in this profession.”
From D1 Head Coach to Razorbacks Assistant
Some questioned the decision to leave a D1 head coaching position to become an assistant for another D1 school. Among them was ESPN Australian analyst, Olgun Uluc.
“The move to Arkansas was surprising,” Uluc said. ”David Patrick has always been among the most effective assistants coaches in college basketball and [he] got a solid head coaching gig in a nice area for his family. Muss must be running some kind of show over there to be able to lure him away from that.”
Patrick didn’t question the decision though. He sees the potential in the Arkansas basketball program and knows that he can aid Musselman in bringing the program back to powerhouse status.
“You know the biggest thing about getting this job, something that’s unique from everywhere I’ve been: I don’t have to sell the job on the phone. Like, everybody knows what it’s about, what the state’s about, and how good the program is. That’s been a lot different from every job I’ve taken. Even when I got to LSU, we were trying to rebuild…there’s no rebuild going on at Arkansas. That’s a great conversation to have [with recruits]. You talk about the facilities you have, the state you have, the education you get at Arkansas. It’s been an easy sell. My friends were shocked that I jumped out of a head coaching chair to come to Arkansas, but they know why when I start talking to them.”
For Patrick to already have the thought ingrained that this state is behind the program and the direction it is moving is phenomenal. An encouraging sentiment for Hog fans to say the least. He seems to understand the incredible potential the Razorbacks have in the near future and genuinely wants to be a part of it.
It’s no secret that the biggest attraction for playing basketball at the University of Arkansas currently is Eric Musselman. He has a visible on-the-court passion, a knack for recruiting, and the willingness to connect with fans and recruits. His appeal is evident on the recruiting trail, but it also helped him land his latest all-star hire.
Eric Musselman was the Associate Head Coach at LSU for one season. Luckily for him, this season was one of four that Patrick was also an assistant for the Tigers. Patrick took notice of both Musselman’s passion and mind.
“First and foremost, you can see from the minute you meet him how competitive he is as a person and a coach, and we all are but he has another level. His ability to adapt. I think he’s so up to date with the trends in basketball, whether it’s the offense, defense, rebounding, he changes with the times. Not every coach does that on the college level. I think that’s allowed him to have great success as a head coach at the college level for a short period of time, and he has not missed a beat from his success in the NBA. He’s somebody that’s coached the best players in the world in the NBA and on the biggest stage in the world in my opinion when it comes to college basketball in the SEC.”
Patrick sees Musselman’s basketball knowledge, success, and potential. He knows that coaching under Musselman at a rising SEC University is an un-passable opportunity. Perhaps most importantly however, he knows of Musselman’s character and personality off the court.
“[I admire] his standard. He’s a players’ coach. He knows guys want to get to the league, but if they don’t, he’s got the ability to teach them to be men and teach them about life after basketball, because he’s touched [so many lives] and been in the game for so long.”
Patrick played a huge role in landing Ben Simmons, his godson, at LSU during his time there. His time growing up in Melbourne and playing in the Australian NBL has given him a direct pipeline to Australian recruits. Arkansas has already felt the effects. Two offers have come in this week for Australian players David Okwera (2021 | F) and Dyson Daniels (2022 | G), both highly touted overseas recruits. It’s worth keeping an eye on to see if Patrick can recreate his former SEC success and bring another future #1 NBA Draft pick from Down Under to The Hill.
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