LITTLE ROCK — With Arkansas’ dual commitments from 2022 national Top 10 / 5-star prospects Jordan Walsh and Nick Smith, Jr. landing within the last 16 days, the Razorbacks men’s basketball program is not only well on its way to securing another national Top 5 high school recruiting class, but it’s in a legitimate chase for No. 1.
Third-year head coach Eric Musselman reeled in four in-state prospects all ranked in the national Top 100 two years ago (Class of 2020) that ESPN ranked as the 5th-best class in the nation, and with five Top 100 prospects (includes three in-state pledges) currently on board in the 2022 class — Walsh, Smith, Derrian Ford, Barry Dunning Jr., and Joseph Pinion – the Hoop Hogs are battling for class of 2022 recruiting supremacy.
Prior to Walsh’s commitment, the Hogs were ranked as having the nation’s No. 3 class according to 247Sports.com.
There’s at least one more 5-star prospect theoretically still in the mix for the Hogs, but for now let’s take a deep-dive look at the five Arkansas pledges with analysis, scouting reports, system fits, former Hog comparisons, highlights, and more (listed in descending order from when they committed) …
* Jordan Walsh (6-7 combo forward, Link Academy in Missouri, ESPN national No. 7 / 5-star prospect, committed to Arkansas on Oct. 14, 2021) is a long, bouncy, elite rim-runner and slasher who’s worthy three-point shooting and competent handles projects him long-term as a 3-and-D weapon at the professional level. His competitiveness and determination playing around the basket are complementary of his physical gifts in making him a tough blue-collar matchup, then throw in the perimeter shooting skill and ball-handling that’s a notch above many combo forwards and it helps explain why he’s one the most versatile players in the nation.
Walsh’s fit in Arkansas’ system: As Musselman continues to look for versatility both in the backcourt and frontcourt, Walsh may be his first capable inside-out player since arriving at Arkansas. His aforementioned traits make Walsh a true 3/4-combo with the ability to play some 5-spot in small-ball lineups. Defensively, he’s got the tools to develop into a plus-stopper. His tenacity on both sides of the ball offer the kind of on-court enthusiasm that Musselman preaches. Playing alongside another 5-star from the same recruiting class should not hinder his ability to produce, thrive, and compete for all-league recognition as a freshman. As Walsh’s perimeter skill continues to develop and his defense emerges, he’ll enhance his one-and-done potential as he raises both his floor and his ceiling as a pro prospect.
Walsh’s former Hog player comparison: There’s not just one who comes to mind, so we’re going two-headed Hog here as Walsh blends Derek Hood’s frame, length, bounce, and relentless end-to-end motor attacking the paint and the rim with some of Ron Huery’s ball-handling and face-up shooting that extended out to three-point range.