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OPINION | WALLY HALL: Even with 10 new faces, no reason for doubt

by Wally Hall | April 10, 2022 at 2:43 a.m.


Tall, that's what the University of Arkansas men basketball team is going to be next season.

As it stands right now, Davonte "Devo" Davis, 6-3, would be the shortest guy on the team, and he's anything but short, especially with his leaping ability and long arms.

Right now, he's one of three players who has said he'll be back next season for the Razorbacks, along with Kamani Johnson and Jaxson Robinson, and there's still plenty of time for one of those to decide to try the transfer portal.

Of course, Jaylin Williams is an unknown as he is testing the NBA waters but will not sign with an agent so he can return.

So-called experts have him going high in the second round, but NBA teams draft on potential and Williams just recently decided to see what his options are.

Eric Musselman obviously isn't taking any chances on losing some height and last week welcomed:

• Trevon Brazile, a 6-9 transfer from Missouri (who will be a sophomore)

• Makhel Mitchell, a 6-10 transfer from Rhode Island (who will be senior, but also has a covid year, so two seasons of eligibility technically)

• Makhi Mitchell, a 6-9 transfer from Rhode Island, (Makhel's twin brother, who also will be senior, but also has a covid year of eligibility)

• Jalen Graham, a 6-9 transfer from Arizona State (will be senior, who also has covid year of eligibility).

Right about now a program with players' numbers is needed to keep everything straight because also new to the program next season will be:

• Nick Smith, a 6-5 freshman who is a McDonald's All-American and a 5-star from North Little Rock.

• Jordan Walsh, a 6-7 freshman, who is a McDonald's All-American and a 5-star from DeSoto, Texas, who played at Link Academy in Branson.

• Anthony Black, a 6-5 freshman commitment who should sign in spring period (which is Wednesday to May 18), who is a McDonald's All-American and a 5-star from Duncanville, Texas.

• Derrian Ford, a 6-4 freshman and a 4-star from Magnolia.

• Barry Dunning, a 6-6 freshman, and a 4-star from Mobile (Ala.) McGill Toolen Catholic High School.

• Joseph Pinion, a 6-6 freshman signee from Morrilton.

Just to finish the picture, those leaving for the NBA or out of eligibility are JD Notae, Williams, Au'Diese Toney, Stanley Umude, Trey Wade and Chris Lykes.

Transferring are Connor Vanover, Khalen "KK" Robinson and Chance Moore.

So that's 10 new players, all at least 6-4, and possibly four returning players.

What we've learned in three seasons that having so many new faces every year is not a challenge to Musselman.

That probably comes from his days in the NBA, where a roster can change at any time during a season and definitely at the start of a new season.

The Razorbacks have proven every year under Musselman they will get better as the season progresses because it takes a coach time to mold them into a team.

The past two seasons it was obvious that something happened in January that made the Razorbacks a better team for the remainder of the season.

No one outside the Razorbacks' program would have guessed after an 0-3 start in SEC play this past season that the Hogs would be in the Elite Eight for the second consecutive time, but they were.

It would seem that the only two likely starters are Davis and Williams. If Williams returns, he would be welcomed back with open arms.

Although at this time of the year, every coach is thinking about the open competition he is looking forward to for playing time.

That's what makes players better individually, and what makes them better as a team is the coaches, even if they have 10 new players.


Print Headline: Even with 10 new faces, no reason for doubt

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