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story.lead_photo.caption Fort Smith Northside’s Jaylin Williams (left) is guarded by Fayetteville’s Darius Bowers during Friday’s game at the Class 6A boys state tournament. Williams scored 20 points in Northside’s 63-58 victory. ( Charlie Kaijo)

Despite playing catch-up in the recruitment of Fort Smith Northside center Jaylin Williams, Arkansas coach Eric Musselman and his staff earned a spot on Williams' top seven list.

Williams, 6-10, 220 pounds, announced a list of Arkansas, Oklahoma State, Illinois, Auburn, Connecticut, Texas A&M and Iowa State on Wednesday.

Other schools had been recruiting Williams long before Musselman was announced as Arkansas’ new coach on April 7. Williams said Musselman and assistants Corey Williams and Clay Moser have worked hard in making up for lost time.

“If coach Williams isn't calling me every other day, coach Musselman is or coach Moser is,” Williams said. “So almost every other day, they’re calling me. I know coach Musselman is going to be down here Tuesday, I think, to watch me practice.”

Williams, who made an official visit to Oklahoma State in June, is looking to visit other schools, including Arkansas.

“I don’t have anything planned out yet. I know I’m going to take an official [visit] with Arkansas soon,” said Williams, who noted Auburn would likely get an official visit. “But I don’t have anything else planned out yet.”

Williams was named the Division I player of the year by the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette after averaging 16 points, 11 rebounds and 3 blocks as a junior while leading the Grizzlies to the Class 6A state title.

He said getting down to his top seven was about his comfort level with each school.

“It really it just came down to how much of a bond I had with the coaches and the team and knowing it’s a family environment and knowing they can help me become the best player I can be,” Williams said.

Williams, who made an unofficial visit to Fayetteville on June 26, is rated an ESPN 4-star prospect, the No. 12 center and No. 86 overall prospect in the nation in the 2020 class.

He said he's received several opinions at school about where he should attend college.

“Going throughout the day, [I'm] having people telling me I need to be a Razorback and stay home and people telling my dad that,” Williams said. “I also have a handful of people telling me to go to OSU, too.”

While he appreciates the advice, Williams said he has to go by what he experiences behind the scenes.

“They see it from the outside of things knowing that’s their favorite team to watch or that’s the school they went to growing up or attended college,” Williams said. “They don’t see what’s going on the inside, like if it’s a good coaching staff or if they can help make me better as a player to get me to that next level after college.”


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