We’ve taken a deeper dive into the playstyle of the Razorback guards already. Now it’s time for the forwards down low. The guard group included only one returning Razorback in Desi Sills. The forwards will be no different as Ethan Henderson is the only player included in this piece that has ever donned the Cardinal and White in a real game before.
Of the six players listed here, two are grad transfer seniors, two are sit-one transfers that have done their waiting, and one is a highly touted freshman eager to play in his first collegiate action. That’s a lot of new faces.
But how much does Razorback Nation really know about all the new faces set to take the court in Bud Walton next season? The goal of these comparisons is to help better understand the type of players Coach Muss has acquired this offseason, and what type of play style you can expect next season.
Please understand that we are not saying these are the exact same players. We are using widely known NBA talents to give a more specific idea of each Razorback’s playstyle and tendencies, not necessarily their overall skill level or potential. We understand and recognize there is a talent gap.
Justin Smith | 6’7 | Senior | Grad Transfer
Smith, an experienced grad transfer from Indiana, is one of the smoothest athlete’s you will ever see. He can fly with the best of them, and makes it look easier than most. Guys like Michael Qualls and Daniel Gafford had a certain level of power and ferocity required to put down Sports Center Top 10 dunks. Smith on the other hand seemingly glides through the air on his way to flushing home dunks with his forehead at the rim. The level of ease in which Smith moves gives him an edge over former Razorback bigs, and does nothing but add to his case of being one of the most important players on this roster.
Along with his mesmerizing leaping ability, Smith is also a decent perimeter shooter. His 6’7 frame allows him to play anywhere from small forward to center in today’s college game. However, he will never be the first option to handle the ball against pressure, especially with so many talented Razorback guards accompanying him, so he will likely spend most of his time at one of the “big man” positions down low.
NBA Player Comp: John Collins | 6’9 | PF
Collins, like Smith, is an incredibly smooth athlete capable of dunking the ball in almost any situation. The biggest difference in these players is height, as Collins stands at 6’9 compared to Smith’s 6’7. Nevertheless, expect Smith’s playstyle to mirror Collins’ with so many playmakers around him. Finishing off of passes at the rim, catch and shoot jumpers, and the occasional power move down the lane are some of the most common ways for both of these players to contribute.
Additional Comparison: Larry Nance Jr.
Nance is another easy high flyer. He possesses natural athleticism that allows him to make highlight plays at the rim year after year. Smith’s shooting is likely to fall somewhere on the spectrum between Collins and Nance. Either way it will be a huge bonus to the other playmakers on the roster.
Ethan Henderson | 6’8 | Junior
Ethan provided a major spark late last season when Musselman the team started desperately searching for depth. He made big plays around the rim without needing the ball in his hands like blocking shots, boxing out key opponents on the glass, and even providing some offense of his own in the form of put back slams. Henderson has his work cut out this season if he wants to win playing time over some of the more dynamic pieces on the roster. For the most part, he is a one-dimensional paint beast for lack of a better term. He affects games with his rebounding, defense, and effort rather than any offensive prowess or elite skillset.
NBA Player Comp: JaVale McGee | 7’0 | C
While the previous statement may seem like a shot at Henderson’s game, make no mistake that many NBA bigs have made a living with this playstyle. Given, many of them were taller than 6’8, but they also play against much taller competition. Like McGee, Henderson will have a few primary focuses to work with when on the court (rebounding, shot blocking, etc), making him the true definition of a role player. Players like McGee, who affects games in a very similar way to Henderson, give me hope that the returning Razorback big man can contribute in some fashion next season.
Additional Comparison: Clint Capela, DeAndre Jordan
Much like McGee, these two NBA centers rely on their athleticism, length, and energy to affect ball games. Neither can, or is asked to, score at will on post up situations. They impact games by grabbing offensive boards, rolling to the open spot around the rim on offense, and negating any opposing rebounders. Henderson is capable of filling a similar role with the Hogs.
Abayomi Iyiola | 6’9 | Junior
The first sit-one transfer on this list, Iyiola spent his first two seasons at Stetson. While there, he averaged 10.4 PPG and 6.9 RPG. In his final season, he also added 1.2 BPG to his solid statline. Iyiola has a knack for finding openings in and around the paint without the ball in his hands. He’s perfected the art of finding a soft spot and finishing the play when delivered a good pass. His rebounding is a major factor anytime he’s on the court, as noted in his 7.6 RPG during his sophomore season. His athleticism is not elite, but he puts himself in positions to succeed on both sides of the ball.
NBA Player Comp: Derrick Favors | 6’9 | PF/C
Favors was much more athletic than Iyiola in his hay-day, but nowadays the two have a similar playstyle. Favors doesn’t do much fancy. He can score when asked to in the post but spends most of his time as a P&R roll man or playing off ball waiting for a drive and dish down low. Both of these, along with rebounding, are the most likely ways that Iyiola will contribute to the Hogs when he does see the court.
Additional Comparison: Tristan Thompson
Thompson is another undersized center that can spend some time at PF when necessary, something he shares in common with both Favors and Iyiola. He too picks his spots carefully and relies on playmakers around him to create the offense while he cleans up any mistakes in the paint. Thompson is also a very serviceable rebounder on both sides of the ball.
Vance Jackson | 6’9 | Senior | Grad Transfer
Jackson has the potential to be the most versatile player on Musselman’s roster next year. He can play anywhere from small forward to center, run the offense, knock down threes, create shots for his teammates, and rebound with the best of them. Muss has even hinted at Jackson being able to play shooting guard some this year thanks to his ball skills and tremendous 3PT shooting. The 6’9 forward has a lot of experience and the talent level to match.
Jackson will likely make his living behind the three-point line, looking for his own shot first. However, he is more than capable of handling and passing the ball in certain situations. Don’t be surprised if the offense tends to run through Vance.
NBA Player Comp: Marcus Morris Sr. | 6’9 | PF
Morris is roughly the same height and weight as Vance, making them a relatively easy comparison. He also spends most of his time on the perimeter creating space for his own shots, much like Jackson has shown a tendency for doing. During his time with the Knicks in 2020, Morris led the team in scoring 19.6 PPG from the power forward position. Look for Jackson to mirror this type of success during his senior season with the Hogs.
Additional Comparison: Tobias Harris, Markieff Morris
Like Marcus, these two players make their living as stationary scorers on the perimeter. Both are capable of putting the ball on the floor in attempt to create space, but neither are known for the ankle-breaking crossovers. All of these players do best when living outside the arc and hitting shots over smaller defenders.
Jaylin Williams | 6’10 | Freshman
Williams is the final freshman on our list, but make no mistake, he carries a fair amount of weight on his shoulders as well. The highly touted recruit from Fort Smith is known for utilizing his height on both ends of the court. He’s a hungry rebounder and above average shooter for his size. Williams is relatively mobile and has very good vision, especially for a forward/center that doesn’t spend a lot of time dribbling the ball.
NBA Player Comp: Al Horford | 6’10 | C
Like Williams, Horford is an above average passer and shooter from the power forward/center position. He can make plays for others without needing to dribble very much. Both players take advantage of their length when getting off perimeter shots or finding open teammates. Horford is also an excellent rebounder to have on the court.
Additional Comparison: Kelly Olynyk, Nikola Jokic
These two unconventional big men are also known to be tremendous shooters and passers for their position. They are mobile enough to spend a lot of time on the perimeter, but still possess the size it takes to compete in the paint. Williams has the potential to develop into one of these “dual-threat” types of big men someday soon.
Connor Vanover | 7’3 | Junior
Perhaps the overall favorite among fans, Vanover is an absolute mismatch on the offensive end of the court. Standing at 7’3 wasn’t enough for the California transfer. No, he had to add a lethal jumper for everywhere on the court. He can hit from three, midrange, or finish around the rim with little to no space afforded by the defense.
Vanover is long enough with a high enough release point that most block attempts won’t affect his shot at all. His biggest knock is his mobility on the perimeter, especially in P&R defensive situations, but if Musselman can gameplan around that by using zone defenses, Vanover will be in a great situation to succeed this season.
NBA Player Comp: Kristaps Porzingis | 7’3 | C/PF
This comparison comes somewhat easy when looking at the two 7’3, light-complected shooters. They’re both mismatches for any typically big man that tries to step out to the perimeter and guard them. Porzingis has been a fantastic player in the NBA thus far, in large part due to his unreal 3P%. He holds the upper hand on Vanover in the athleticism department, providing more mobility on defense and quick rolls to the basket on offense. Regardless, don’t be surprised if Vanover becomes somewhat of a “Unicorn” for the Razorbacks next season.
Additional Comparison: Lauri Markkanen
Markkanen is another big man known for his outside shot. He likely has more muscle mass than Vanover at the moment, but the playstyle is there. Height, length, and shooting ability make any big man hard for a defense to handle.
|Razorback||NBA Player Comp|
|Justin Smith||John Collins|
|Ethan Henderson||Javale McGee|
|Abayomi Iyiola||Derrick Favors|
|Vance Jackson||Marcus Morris Sr|
|Jaylin Williams||Al Horford|
|Connor Vanover||Kristaps Porzingis|
I hope you are all as excited as I am to watch this new talent take the court under Coach Musselman next season wearing the cardinal and white.
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