Whether the Arkansas Razorbacks’ 2021 recruiting class is No. 2 in the nation as ranked by ESPN.com and 247Sports.com or No. 5 as ranked by Rivals, third-year coach Eric Musselman and his staff have done an excellent job reviving a proud basketball program that had lost some of the luster over the past two decades.
Musselman, who has been as active as anyone in the NCAA transfer portal and the graduate-transfer market as any coach in basketball at Nevada and Arkansas, inked one of the top two classes ever signed by Arkansas’ basketball program by signing five high school all-stars during the early signing period.
Arkansas’ 1995 recruiting class was ranked No. 1, but some of those players never quite made it to campus and two junior-college transfers — Jesse Pate and Sunday Adebayo — were ruled ineligible by the NCAA midway through the ‘95-96 season.
Next up for the Razorbacks
Opponent: vs. Northern Iowa
When: 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 17
Where: Bud Walton Arena, Fayetteville
Next 5 games
Nov. 22 – Kansas State in KC, 8 p.m. (ESPN News)
Nov. 23 – Cincinnati or Illinois in KC, TBA (ESPN News/ESPN 2)
Nov. 28 – Penn, 3 p.m. (SEC Network)
Dec. 1 – Central Arkansas, 7 p.m. (SEC+)
Dec. 4 – UALR, 3 p.m. (SEC Network)
In one of the weirdest NCAA cases in hoops history, Adebayo was forced to transfer from Arkansas. He played a season at Memphis in 1997 before being reinstated by the NCAA and returning for a season at Arkansas in 1998.
One hopes this class won’t be as problematic for Musselman as that one was for Nolan Richardson.
The five-man, guard-heavy class includes 6-5 guard Nick Smith of North Little Rock, 6-7 forward Jordan Walsh of DeSoto, Texas; 6-3 guard Derrian Ford of Magnolia, 6-6 guard Barry Dunning Jr., of Mobile, Ala., and 6-6 forward Joseph Pinion of Morrilton.
As as excited as Musselman was to get his five-man class signed in the early period, he’s even more intent on improving his current squad, which moved to 2-0 on the season last Saturday with an 86-69 victory over Gardner-Webb. Connor Vanover led the team in scoring with 19 points.
The Razorbacks play Northern Iowa (1-2) at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Walton Arena in their lone game of the week. The Panthers lost their opener to Vermont, 71-57, but bounced back for a 95-58 victory over Dubque.
Following the Northern Iowa game, the Hogs will begin preparations for a busy Thanksgiving week.
They will play Monday and Tuesday in the Hall of Fame Classic at the T-Mobile Center in Kansas City. Kansas State is on Monday’s slate at 8 p.m. on ESPN News, while the Hogs will play either Cincinnati or No. 10 Illinois on Tuesday. The game will be televised by either ESPN News or ESPN2 with tipoff time to be set later.
The Razorbacks will be back in action in the friendly confines of Walton Arena at 3 p.m. Nov. 28 to cap off a busy holiday week against Penn.