Hoop Hogs notebook: Arkansas ramps up live scrimmaging as team nears full health; plus robust Razorbacks recruiting updates

By Kevin McPherson
on 2023-09-17 21:20 PM

By Kevin McPherson

LITTLE ROCK — The Arkansas Razorbacks men’s basketball team is nearly at full strength and just completed it’s fourth week of fall semester limited practices, and the consensus from onlookers continues to be that Eric Musselman’s fifth squad looks the part of a team on a trajectory for a big season in 2023-24.

In yet another busy week for the Hoop Hogs, the team went through scrimmaging, drill work, and game-specific scenarios while also hosting several recruits over the weekend who attended practice inside the basketball performance center across the street from Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville.

Here’s the latest …

– Arkansas “went live more,” according to a source, which is to say the team increased it’s full-contact, live competitive scrimmaging in practices. Head Hog Eric Musselman’s practice philosophy is typically geared toward keeping live, full-contact work to a minimum, but for a variety of reasons he will increase the scrimmaging as needed.

– The Razorbacks are nearly at full strength, the healthiest the team has been since the early-June beginning of limited summer practices. The only Hog who is not 100% cleared (a.k.a not participating in live, full-contact scrimmaging) is redshirt-sophomore forward Trevon Brazile, who is on pace to meet his targeted full-return goal after rehabilitating his injured knee that was suffered in early December 2022 and required season-ending surgery.

– Reinforcing the notion the Razorbacks’ are nearing full strength were the practice sightings of veteran transfer guard Khalif Battle, who missed chunks of the end of summer practices and the beginning of fall semester practices. Battle — nearly 18 points per game at Temple last season, and 2.9 made triples per game at a 37.3% clip spanning the previous two seasons — was included in a team practice highlight video and an individual practice highlight video, both released on the team’s social media platforms last week (linked here: … https://x.com/EricPMusselman/status/1701628249116397638?s=20 AND HERE … https://x.com/RazorbackMBB/status/1701672717593018842?s=20).

– Brazile and senior big man Makhi Mitchell can be seen multiple times in the aforementioned (and linked) team practice highlight video attacking the rim and dunking with authority, which signals both are on paths to once again secure significant roles anchoring the frontline by the start of the season. Mitchell did not participate in any summer practices that ran through June and July, but he did return for fall semester practices as a full participant.

– The Hogs worked on after-timeout (ATO) plays last week, according to a source. There are a variety of reasons why teams use timeouts during a game — plus there are eight mandatory media timeouts per game (four in each half) — so it offers a typical range of 12-15 extended dead-ball opportunities for coaches’ to draw up plays to either help keep their team on a positive path or to help turn the tide and halt a bad run.

– The Hoop Hogs are about one week away from increasing their on-court practice time from the current NCAA-mandated 4 hours per week, which was also the standard during summer limited practices that ran through June and July.

– The men’s basketball program announced last week that the Hoop Hogs will play their annual Red-White intra-squad scrimmage at 6:30 p.m. CT on Wednesday, Oct. 4, at Barnhill Arena (Hogville article detailing playing dates for all 31 regular-season games, one exhibition game, and the Red-White game is linked here: https://forums.hogville.net/index.php?topic=756493.0).

– For a look at Arkansas’ ’23-24 roster as well as my initial and current Top 7 player-rotation projections that were published at Hogville as the Hoop Hogs were returning to practice on Aug. 21, click the link: https://forums.hogville.net/index.php?topic=756999.0

* Razorbacks recruiting

For the second consecutive weekend, the Arkansas men’s basketball programs had a busy visit itinerary as the Razorbacks hosted five highly regarded prospects, including one from the class of 2024 who was on an official visit and four others from the classes of 2025 and 2026 who were taking unofficial visits.

Recruits first had photos shoots with Musselman and attended the Hoop Hogs’ basketball practice on Saturday afternoon before attending the Football Hogs’ game against BYU on Saturday night at Razorback Stadium.

Here is a breakdown of who made it to campus in Fayetteville with a few reactions to their visits, followed by updates on four more 2024 prospects, a 2025 recruits, and three 2026 recruits as former Arkansas star and Orlando Magic rookie guard Anthony Black was also on campus on Saturday interacting with recruits and Hog fans …

– 2024 Hog priority Hog target and Rivals national No. 32 / 4-star prospect Isaiah Elohim (6-5 guard, Sierra Canyon in Calif.) began his OV on Friday when he arrived late in the afternoon and he wrapped things up on Sunday. “I thought it was a great visit,” Elohim told Hogville. “It was a great campus, the facilities are top tier. I just liked everything about it. The coaching staff treated me real good. They’ve been really studying me, telling me things I can do to improve. I can tell they really took their time recruiting me. That’s probably the best part of the whole thing.” Shelley also talked about the Hoop Hogs running plays in practice like and NBA team and what he discussed with Black during his visit (for more on Elohim’s thoughts about his OV, click the link to our Hogville article published on Sunday, Sept. 17: https://forums.hogville.net/index.php?topic=757333.0).

– 2025 Hog offer BJ Davis-Ray (6-6 wing, Duncanville, TX, Rivals national No. 36 / 4-star prospect) enjoyed his UOV experience at Arkansas: “Practice was run so smoothly. I thought the guys brought all the energy & made practice look elite. The football atmosphere was incredible. The Hog chant is still in my head.”

– 2026 Hog offer Jacob Lanier (6-6 guard, Maumelle, On3 national No. 29 / 4-star prospect) took an unofficial visit to Arkansas on Saturday, during which he had a photo shoot with Musselman, attended Hoop Hogs practice, and attended the Football Hogs’ game. “The practice was the best part of the day. Seeing how efficient they were and the energy they work at was insane. They turned what could have been a 2-hour practice to 1 hour. I think that’s a great environment, they were really working. The football game was amazing, getting to go on the field with Anthony Black and the rest of the recruits was unbelievable.”

– 2026 Hog target Aidan Chronister (6-7 wing, Rogers, 17U AAO Flight, 247Sports national No. 29 / 4-star prospect) took an unofficial visit to Arkansas on Saturday, during which he attended Hoop Hogs’ practice, had a photo shoot with Musselman, and attended the Football Hogs’ game. “I had a great time at my UOV. Practice was great as it had high energy and was intense. I enjoyed the game and getting to hang out with the players and coaches. The Hogs have some great fans.” Chronister also talked about meeting and interacting with Black (for more on Chronister’s thoughts about his UOV, click the link to our Hogville article published on Sunday, Sept. 17: https://forums.hogville.net/index.php?topic=758042.0).

– 2026 prospect LaDaryl Robinson, Jr. (6-7 forward, Marion, Arkansas Hawks) took an unofficial visit to Arkansas on Saturday, during which he attended Hoop Hogs’ practice, had a photo shoot with Musselman, and attended the Football Hogs’ game. “It was a great practice. I enjoyed watching them work on their game and do the drills. It was very competitive and fast, a lot of moving. And the football game was lit, great crowd, nice fans, just a good team and environment to be around.”

– A source has confirmed that Arkansas will host 2024 composite Top 5 / 5-star prospect and Texas native Tre Johnson (6-6 guard, Link Academy) on an official visit the weekend of Oct. 20. Johnson lists the Hogs among his Final 6 schools along with Texas, Baylor, Kentucky, Kansas, and Alabama. Johnson has visited Texas and Baylor and has a visit set up for Alabama in October. His teammate at Link Academy is recent 2024 Arkansas commit Jalen Shelley, who pledged to the Hogs on Monday, Sept. 11 (for details on Shelley’s journey to calling the Hogs, our Hogville commitment article is linked here: https://forums.hogville.net/index.php?topic=758124.0).

– A source confirmed that Arkansas head coach Eric Musselman was in to see 2024 priority Hog target Rakease Passmore (6-5 wing, Combine Academy in North Carolina, 247Sports national No. 42 / 4-star prospect) on Wednesday, Sept. 13. Passmore will take an official visit to Arkansas on Oct. 7.

– Sources confirmed that Arkansas assistant coach Keith Smart was in central Arkansas on Monday, Sept. 11, and stopped by Little Rock Christian Academy (2026 Hog offer and national Top 20 / 4-star JaShawn “JJ” Andrews, a 6-5 guard, attends LRCA); Maumelle (Lanier and 2026 6-7 forward Jordan Harris attend Maumelle); and Benton. While at Benton, Smart met with 2025 Hog offer and national Top 30 / 4-star prospect Terrion Burgess (6-9 combo forward, 17U Arkansas Hawks).

– A source confirmed that Arkansas was in to see 2024 priority Hog target K. Annor Boateng (6-5 wing, Little Rock Central, Arkansas Hawks, composite national No. 26 / 5-star prospect) last week. Boateng took his official visit to Arkansas on July 28, and he has since visited Missouri, Georgia Tech, and LSU with planned upcoming visits to Virginia Tech and Indiana. Another source has indicated Boateng is likely to announce his college decision shortly after taking his visits, possibly early October (for more on Boateng’s OV to Arkansas, click the link to our Hogville article published on July 30: https://forums.hogville.net/index.php?topic=756934.0).

– A source confirmed that Arkansas was out to see the following prospects last week: 2024 composite No. 7 / 5-star prospect Jayden Quaintance (6-9 forward / center, Word of God Christian Academy in Raleigh, N.C.); 2025 ESPN national No. 50 / 4-star prospect Shelton Henderson (6-5 wing, Bellaire High School in Texas; and 2025 Rivals national No. 29 / 4-star prospect Hudson Greer (6-7 wing, Austin, Texas).

– 2025 Hog offer Isaiah Sealy (6-6 guard, Springdale, national Top 50 / 4-star prospect) attended the Football Hogs’ game vs. BYU on Saturday at Razorback Stadium. Sealy took an unofficial visit to Arkansas in August and attended a Hoop Hogs practice at the time.

(Last updated: 2023-09-17 21:20 PM)