Recruiting Guy

Link coach says Shelley will help Hogs right away

Link Academy basketball Coach Bill Armstrong said he believes University of Arkansas 4-star signee Jalen Shelley will be prepared for his freshman season when he arrives in Fayetteville.

The defending GEICO high school national champion, Link Academy of Branson, Mo., is loaded with talent with starters who have signed with Kansas, Texas and North Carolina along with ESPN 2025 5-star and top-10 prospect Jasper Johnson.

"He started pretty much every game at the 4 [spot]," Armstrong said of Shelley. "I think he's really done well finding his niche and finding a way to mesh with these guys. I think learning how to play with really good players as well as the competition we go against will have him prepared when he officially gets there on campus and becomes a Razorback."

Shelley, 6-9 and 185 pounds, 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's averaging 8.9 points, 4.3 rebounds, 1 steal per game this season while shooting 47.1% from the field, 30.7% from beyond the three-point line and 71.4% from the free throw line while usually playing about half a game because of the Lions' dominance.

Shelly's points per possession (98.6%) is third among the starters on the team only behind James Brown and Johnson.

He averaged 18.3 points, 6.2 rebounds and 3.5 assists as a junior while leading Prestonwood Christian Academy in Plano, Texas, to a state title before to transferring to Link Academy.

Armstrong expanded on why Shelley, who has a 7-0 foot wingspan, should be ready to compete as a freshman at Arkansas.

"That's our ultimate goal is to have him ready for when he gets to college. He's prepared to make an impact as a freshman," Armstrong said. "When kids are able to come through our program, they're able to do that because of not only [getting] to learn to play with other people, learning to play against great competition or having to play against great competition every day and practice every day against really good competition."

Shelley's brother Jason was the Missouri State starting quarterback when the Bears played Arkansas in 2022. His father, Jason Paul Shelley II, was a receiver at Washington and Central (Ohio) State, and played in the NFL and NFL Europe.

The Lions' 2023-2024 schedule includes games in Utah, Texas, Kentucky, Las Vegas, the Bahamas, Florida, New York, Massachusetts, Illinois and New Jersey.

"Then you have the travel aspect and the schooling aspect," Armstrong said. "Just learning how to balance all those things within your season and continue to get up every day and practice hard. He [Shelley] has done a great job with that and I think when he comes in there, it won't be like he's a freshman. He'll come in where he's been through a lot of the stuff that bogs down freshman down mentally at times."

Former Razorback and current Boston Celtic Jordan Walsh also transferred to Link Academy for his senior season after playing at Faith Family Academy in Dallas. Walsh helped the Lions finish as runners-up at the GEICO nationals in Link Academy's inaugural season. He started 22 of 36 games in his lone season for the Hogs as a freshman last season.

Armstrong praised Shelley's development this season while pointing out his versatility as a major strength.

"He's really done a good job the last few games or in the last month or so of practice of rebounding," Armstrong said. "He was always a good rebounder, but he's turned it up a notch of going to the offensive glass. Jalen is a unique talent. He's super versatile. You can play him as a guard, you can play him as a 4 man undersize, create a mismatch. He's a mismatch problem all around.

"I think he's improved in all those things, his versatility, his ability to play off the bounce, learn how to play through contact. He's definitely learn how to do that because that's something he didn't have to do all the time."

Shelley will play a key role in Link Academy's quest to repeat as national champion.

"He's going to be a vital part of us finishing strong and qualifying for the national tournament and have an opportunity to repeat," Armstrong said. "If he plays up to his abilities, I see no reason why we can't do that."

Email Richard Davenport at

More News


Jalen Shelley highlights


  photo  Jalen Shelley

Upcoming Events