Smith practicing, Musselman hopeful for return

Arkansas guard Nick Smith Jr. (center) greets forward/center Makhi Mitchell (15) during a timeout, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023, during the first half of the RazorbacksÕ 69-57 win over the Ole Miss Rebels at Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Hank Layton)
Arkansas guard Nick Smith Jr. (center) greets forward/center Makhi Mitchell (15) during a timeout, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023, during the first half of the RazorbacksÕ 69-57 win over the Ole Miss Rebels at Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Hank Layton)

FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas coach Eric Musselman provided an update on freshman guard Nick Smith’s status Wednesday.

Musselman said Smith “has practiced the last few days” with the Razorbacks and added that there is optimism that the guard “will be able to play sometime here in the near future.”

“Obviously he did not go on the road trips so that he could continue to stay back here and work on his conditioning,” Musselman said one day following Arkansas’ 88-73 victory at Kentucky. 

A preseason first-team All-SEC selection, Smith has not played since Arkansas’ 76-57 victory over Bradley in North Little Rock on Dec. 17. He played 20 minutes in the game. 

Smith has appeared in five games in 2022-23, including four starts. He averaged 12.8 points on 38.8% shooting, 30% from three-point range and 1.8 rebounds.

Smith had a 22-point performance against North Carolina-Greensboro on Dec. 6, then followed with a 21-point outing against Oklahoma in Tulsa.

He made his Razorbacks debut Nov. 28 against Troy, and finished with 16 points and 5 assists in his first start against San Jose State.

Arkansas announced prior to the Nov. 7 season opener against North Dakota State that Smith would miss time because of what was described as right knee management. He missed the team’s first six games.

And on Dec. 21, ahead of the Razorbacks’ game against North Carolina-Asheville, Arkansas announced Smith would be “out of the lineup indefinitely.” He then spent time in Los Angeles, where he saw a specialist along with his marketing team, before returning to campus in mid-January.

The Razorbacks are 12-7 without Smith this season.

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