Arkansas Razorback Offseason Update

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Arkansas Razorback Offseason Update
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 19: Head coach Eric Musselman of the Arkansas Razorbacks talks to his team during a timeout against the Colgate Red Raiders in the first round of the 2021 NCAA Division I Men"u2019s Basketball Tournament held at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on March 19, 2021 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

Hot off the heels of a surprising Elite Eight run, the Arkansas Razorback offseason is already in full swing. Coach Eric Musselman and company have gone right back to work, retooling their roster for another run next season. Seniors are leaving, former players have decided to transfer out, new players have committed to transferring in, NBA Draft decisions have yet to be announced, and the portal is as stark-full of talent as it’s ever been. Oh, and don’t forget the looming possibility of a massive contract extension for the Head Hog himself!

Arkansas Razorback Offseason: Who’s Out

There has already been plenty of roster turnover since the Hogs’ final game against Baylor on March 29th, just nine short days ago. Though technically everyone has the opportunity to come back for a “COVID year,” it’s been implied that all of the seniors’ time at Arkansas is over. Here’s a quick look at who all has been announced as no longer with the team.

Justin Smith – Graduation (COVID year of eligibility remains)

Jalen Tate – Graduation (COVID year of eligibility remains)

Vance Jackson – Graduation (COVID year of eligibility remains)

Desi Sills – Transfer (1 year of eligibility)

Ethan Henderson – Transfer (1 year of eligibility)

Arkansas Razorback Offseason: Who Could be Out Soon

Though predicting transfers without direct communication to the players involved is purely speculation, there’s no personal speculation involved in the assumption that Moses Moody will likely be wearing an NBA jersey next season. Rising as high as a Top 10 pick on several draft boards, being a potential NBA lottery pick is a hard call to ignore. While no official decision has been made, it will come as a surprise to none if (when) Moody announces his intent to enter the NBA draft.

Aside from the freshman phenom, the potential remains for one or more additional Razorbacks to test the transfer portal waters this offseason. This is not wishful thinking or reporting on rumors, but purely speculation based on my own observations; I would be happy to have any player on the team who wants to be a Hog. That being said, don’t be surprised if at least one of the following players also hits the transfer portal before all is said and done.

Abayomi Iyiola

The redshirt junior appeared in one game for the Hogs this season after tearing his ACL last offseason. He transferred to Arkansas from Stetson before the 2019-20 season and joined JD Notae and Connor Vanover as sit-one transfers on Musselman’s first Razorback roster. It may be hard for the 6’9 forward to carve out a role while Musselman loads up with fresh faces, especially coming off of two inactive seasons.

Akol Mawein

The JUCO prospect is set to join the Hogs this offseason, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility for the forward to take his talents elsewhere if any of the Hogs’ coaching staff below Musselman were to take a position elsewhere. Again, this is purely speculation, but it’s also not impossible.

Connor Vanover

The 7’3 sniper carried a lot of expectations into the 2020-21 season, some might even say too many expectations. At times, Vanover was a dominating presence on both ends of the court. However, as the Hogs got into the thick of conference play, his role slowly diminished until he was a non-factor in the final few games of the tournament. I hope to see Vanover have a great offseason and come back to Fayetteville stronger than ever, but he has to make our list of potential transfer candidates after his disappointing end to the season.

Arkansas Razorback Offseason: Who’s In

Along with the bitter farewells that accompany outgoing transfers comes the overwhelming excitement of new faces opting to make The Hill their new home next season. Musselman is one of the best in the country at navigating the transfer portal and getting top-tier talent to bolster his roster, and he’s already showing signs of pulling it off again.

The likes of Jimmy Whitt, JD Notae, Jalen Tate, and Justin Smith are all testaments to the level of production Musselman can find waiting to be picked up from the transfer portal. So far, the Hogs have added two big names to their roster for next season.

Au’Diese Toney

The former Pitt Panther took a huge leap in scoring last season before announcing his intent to transfer midseason. He went from 9.5 PPG as a sophomore to over 14 PPG as a junior across 16 games played. The 6’6 wing possesses the perfect level of skill and versatility to fit into a Musselman-style offense.

Toney is capable of playing either wing position, providing minutes as a stretch four, and potentially anchoring a small-ball lineup at center for stretches. Along with his 14.4 PPG, Toney produced 5.9 RPG, 2.3 APG, and 1.3 SPG while shooting 46.4%, 34.0%, and 66.7% from the field, 3-point line, and free throw line respectively.

Chris Lykes

Standing at only 5’7, Lykes is one of the most exciting players to watch in all of college basketball. There are not many defenders that can consistently stay in front of Lykes, as is evident by his 15+ PPG average in each of the last three seasons. Given, last year at Miami he appeared in only two games before injuring his ankle and later announcing his intent to transfer.

The senior guard can finish through contact at the rim, get to the free-throw line, and light it up from distance. In his two games this season, he shot upwards of 45% from behind the arc! While this may not be sustainable, he still shot over 38% from distance in 26 games as a junior.

Arkansas Razorback Offseason: Scholarship Recap

All of this talk of seniors, transfer leaving, and transfers arriving comes without even mentioning the traditional recruits set to join the team next year. The aforementioned JUCO product Akol Mawein has the potential to be a force in the paint if he finds himself in a rotation role this season, and ESPN Top 100 freshman recruit Chance Moore (6’5 G/F) has yet to step foot on campus either!

To recap, Arkansas is allowed to have 13 scholarship players, which they had to end last season. Five players have already left the team in Smith, Tate, Jackson, Sills, Henderson with a sixth likely on the horizon barring Moody’s decision. Assuming Moody is gone and no one else transfers, this would leave the Hogs with seven scholarship players before considering transfers or recruits.

The Hogs have four spots filled already with the incoming talent of Toney, Lykes, Moore, Mawein, leaving them with one spot open right now, a second spot open if (when) Moody announces his decision, and potentially a third spot open if someone else decides to transfer.

Arkansas Razorback Offseason: Who to Watch

So, with anywhere from one to potentially three more spots to fill, Coach Musselman’s work is not done just yet. Some names to watch include but are not limited to:

Stanley Umude (6’6 F)

A grad transfer from South Dakota who averaged 21.5 PPG and 7.0 RPG across 25 games last season. He shot 46.9% from the field and 35.5% from distance. Umude was effectively between Kansas and Arkansas with a few other schools in the mix. Now that Kansas took another transfer at his position, Arkansas looks like the team to beat.

Xavier Pinson (6’2 G)

A transfer from Missouri who averaged 13.6 PPG and 2.9 APG last season. Pinson needs little introduction after effectively tearing up the Razorback defense for the last few years while running a killer pick and roll with Mizzou bigs. I shudder to think of the devastation he could do to opponents in a pick and roll with Jaylin Williams.

Marvin Johnson (6’6 G/F)

A transfer from Eastern Illinois who averaged 15.3 PPG, 5.2 RPG, and 4.7 APG last season. After taking Lykes and with other guards still on the board, this fit doesn’t seem as likely as it once did, though it’s still a very real possibility.

Brady Manek (6’9 F/C)

A grad transfer from Oklahoma who averaged 10.8 PPG and 5.0 RPG. Basketball today is primarily driven by guard play, but you don’t win if you don’t have a presence in the paint. The Hogs have a few solid big men but lack significant depth aside from 6’6 small ball options. Manek instantly fills that need with his 6’9 210lb frame and wicked hairdo.

Jayden Gardner (6’7 F)

A transfer from East Carolina who averaged 18.3 PPG and 8.3 RPG last year. Gardner is a tough bucket getter, but not necessarily an explosive paint presence. He would be a great addition to the team, but not quite the 1-for-1 Justin Smith replacement that some hope he could be. Regardless, he’s an interesting one to watch.

Way too Early Rotation Projection with Players Currently Available

Side note: This is not counting Moses Moody because I would be thoroughly shocked if he came back next season. He would be ahead of Toney at SF if he were to return.

PGChris LykesKK Robinson
SGDevo DavisJD Notae
SFAu’Diese ToneyChance Moore
PFKamani JohnsonAkol MaweinAbayomi Iyiola
CJaylin WilliamsConnor Vanover

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