When consensus 4-star Jalen Shelley signed his national letter of intent with the University of Arkansas men's basketball team Nov. 8, it was his next step in getting to his ultimate goal of playing in the NBA.
"It feels good to really know I officially have a place I can call home next year and with the work I've been putting in, it just feels nice to seeing it finally paying off and getting to the next level and it gets me one step closer to the NBA," Shelley said.
Shelley, 6-9, 185 pounds, of Branson Link Academy signed with the Hogs over scholarship offers from Ohio State, Texas, LSU, Houston, Colorado, Louisville, Marquette, Texas A&M, Iowa, Oklahoma State, Tennessee and other programs.
He made official visits to Arkansas and Louisville. He had plans to take official visits to Ohio State and Colorado until his pledge to the Razorbacks on Sept. 11.
The combined 56 years of NBA experience by Arkansas Coach Musselman, assistant coach Keith Smart and recruiting coordinator/assistant Ronnie Brewer Jr. helped Shelley's decision to be a Hog.
"The system that Coach Muss runs, I see myself fitting real well and his plan for my development," Shelley said. "I can see myself really taking a big leap in my development."
Shelley played for the Houston Hoops and Pro Skills on the Nike EYBL circuit and averaged 12.4 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2 assists in 21 games. During the Nike Peach Jam, he averaged 10.2 points, 6.4 rebounds and 1.4 assists in 5 games.
ESPN rates him the No. 14 small forward and No. 43 overall prospect in the nation for his class. His ESPN No. 43 overall ranking is the sixth-highest in the Musselman era at Arkansas and ninth-highest all-time.
Shelley said Musselman plans to help his overall game.
"Touching on my versatility, getting bigger, working on my jump shot, working on my ball handling," Shelley said. "Really touching every aspect of my game."
Musselman, Smart, Brewer, assistant Anthony Ruta, assistant and director of basketball operations Michael Musselman and assistant director of recruiting and scouting Blake Wetherington were all involved in luring Shelley to Fayetteville.
Shelley's ball handling is above average for someone his size.
"I think I'm pretty solid, but I want to perfect it and be able to play multiple positions 1 through 4," he said.
He fits the mold of what Musselman looks for in a future Razorback.
"Coach Muss likes long, athletic wings and people who can pay multiple positions," said Shelley, who reports having a 7-foot, 1-inch wingspan. "I feel like with my size, I'm probably the perfect fit."
Shelley also said he looks forward to forming relationships with his teammates at Arkansas and playing for the fans. While the Razorback fans didn't sway him to Arkansas, the support they showed him was impressive
"They really always made Arkansas feel like home and really comforted me with support from all different angles whether it was over the internet or in person," Shelley said. "I ran into a few fans and got to know them and talk to them and they're just real supportive."
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