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THE RECRUITING GUY: Hogs soar up 2022 class rankings

by Richard Davenport | October 19, 2021 at 2:12 a.m.

With the addition of ESPN 5-star Jordan Walsh, University of Arkansas basketball Coach Eric Musselman and his staff have the No. 2 ranked recruiting class in the nation for 2022, only behind Duke.

Walsh, 6-7, 200 pounds, of Branson Link Academy, announced his decision on Instagram to be a Razorback over Texas, Kansas, TCU, Arizona State, Oklahoma and others during a Thursday ceremony in Irving, Texas, with ESPN national recruiting director Paul Biancardi.

"It's an incredible effort of work by Muss and the staff because anytime you have to recruit a top prospect in the county, it's consuming and almost takes you away from your own personal life at times," Biancardi said. "That's how consuming it can be. It's impressive how they landed Jordan Walsh because he had the pick of anywhere in the country."

ESPN also rates Walsh the No. 2 small forward and No. 7 overall prospect in the nation. He played his junior season Oak Cliff (Texas) Faith and Family before transferring to Link Academy for his senior season.

Walsh's pledge gives the Hogs two 5-star prospects for the first time since the beginning of recruiting services. ESPN 5-star guard and No. 6 overall prospect Nick Smith Jr. committed to Arkansas on Sept. 29.

During Walsh's official visit to Arkansas in June, he walked into a conference room in the practice facility and saw Musselman's plan for him when he arrives on campus and leaves written on a 5-by-15 white board.

"He put a very detailed plan on a dry-erase board and it talked about from Day 1 to the last day there," Biancardi said. "I think the fan base really got him excited. I think those two things won him over. "

Arkansas' recruiting class also has pledges from ESPN 4-star and top 100 prospects Joseph Pinion of Morrilton, Derrian Ford of Magnolia and Barry Dunning of Mobile (Ala.) McGill-Toolen Catholic.

"If that group can come in with a good healthy ego and great work ethic, I think it could be really special next year at Arkansas," Biancardi said.

Musselman and his staff inked ESPN's No. 5 recruiting class in 2020 with four top-100 4-star prospects.

"Anytime you get top 100 players you're working real hard," Biancardi said. "You have a good recruiting plan, you have a strong evaluation amongst your staff because you have to know who to go after. Not all 5-star guys are the same. Jordan Walsh is cut from a different cloth. He's aggressive, he's hard working, he's an everyday guy with talent and it's hard to find that combination. With him it's easy to get excited and the same with Nick Smith."

Biancardi believes Musselman's social media presence and ability to connect with prospects aren't the norm for coaches with NBA backgrounds.

"He's really embraced recruiting, and a lot of the guys who come from the NBA don't like recruiting," Biancardi said. "He knows what it takes to win outside of practice and film and all the preparation that goes into scouting that's essential but none of that means anything without this [recruiting]."

Arkansas joined Duke as the only other school with multiple members of ESPN's top 10 prospects committed. Duke has three pledges in the top 10, while Kentucky, Baylor, UCLA and Alabama have one each. The Razorbacks are also in the running for ESPN 4-star Anthony Black, the No. 26 overall recruit for the 2022 class.

"His work ethic has always been like that, so now he takes that work ethic and he applies it to recruiting and these are the dividends," Biancardi said of Musselman.

After announcing his commitment to the Hogs with Biancardi, Walsh, who has a 41-inch vertical and a 7 foot 3-inch wingspan, said he was excited about playing with Smith.

"As Jordan Walsh said that's going to be a dangerous tandem at Arkansas with him and Nick Smith," Biancardi said.

E-mail Richard Davenport at rdavenport@arkansasonline.com

Print Headline: Hogs soar up 2022 class rankings

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