ESPN 5-star Moses Moody headlines a big homecoming weekend of visitors for Hogs

LITTLE ROCK — by Kevin McPherson


Moses Moody was the first player from a deep and talented in-state Class of 2020 to pick up an Arkansas scholarship offer, and Moody has decided to make Arkansas his first official-visit destination as he plans to travel to Fayetteville for UA’s homecoming weekend of Oct. 19-21.


Moody, who was offered by the Hogs during an unofficial visit to Fayetteville in August 2017, plans to attend the Red-White basketball game on Friday, Oct. 19, to tip off a busy visit weekend that will include at least five — a number that is likely to grow — Arkansas recruiting targets from the ’20 and ’21 classes. Arkansas could host as many as three national Top 100 prospects from the 2020 class that weekend.


“I’m glad to make Arkansas my first official visit,” said Moody, a 6-5 shooting guard from Little Rock who is rated the No. 20 prospect in the nation — a 5-star recruit — according to ESPN. “I’m looking forward to getting to know the program and coaches, and experiencing the Razorback atmosphere.”


Moody hosted Arkansas associate head coach Melvin Watkins on Sept. 27 for an on-campus visit at his new high school, Montverde (FL) Academy, an independent program that won a national championship in 2017-18, plays a national schedule, gets regular TV exposure on ESPN, and has sent its share of players to the NBA.


I had a good visit with Coach (Melvin) Watkins, and I appreciate him coming down to see me at school,” Moody said after Watkins’ on-campus visit. “We talked a lot about players and the basketball scene in Arkansas. We talked about my experience so far at Montverde, and they (Arkansas coaches) plan to watch me play and continue building a relationship.”


In addition to Arkansas, Moody holds offers from Oklahoma, Baylor, Oklahoma State, Florida State, Texas A&M, Texas, Illinois, Missouri, SMU, Ole Miss, Florida, Texas Tech, and Stanford. He has taken unofficial visits to Arkansas, UCLA, Oklahoma, Baylor, and Florida, and coaches from Arkansas, Ohio State, and UCLA are among the schools to visit him at Montverde.  


Starting with the 2020 class, the NCAA has ruled that prospective college student-athletes can take up to 15 official visits — five during their junior year of high school, another five during their senior year, and five more should they decide to transfer from their college to a Division 1 program. Moody is still considering dates for his four remaining junior-year official visits. 


Last weekend (Oct. 4-8), Moody took part in the Team USA U17 basketball training camp in Colorado Springs, CO, the same event he participated in back in June. He was also a top performer at two other prestigious national camps — Pangos All American Camp in June 2017 and Nike Elite 100 Camp in June 2018. Moody averaged over 15 points per game to lead Brad Beal Elite 17U on the Nike EYBL grassroots circuit in the spring/summer of 2018. Prior to that, he earned MVP honors after helping lead the North Little Rock Charging Wildcats to the 7A state title in 2017-18, which followed a freshman season at Little Rock Parkview (2016-17) when he was a key reserve on a Patriots team that reached the 5A state finals. 


Moody is a legitimate 6-5 with a 7-foot wingspan, and he’s still growing. A smooth operator on offense, Moody is a plus-shooter from 3, he has improved ball-handling and counter moves in his middle game, and he can finish at the rim. He’s a clutch shooter, too, with good court awareness as a passer, something that seems to get overlooked because of how gifted a scorer he is. Defensively, he gets a lot of deflections because of his length and anticipation. Moody has a high basketball IQ and is a gym rat. Multiple coaches have said he not only puts in hours in the gym on his own time, but he asks questions and listens because he wants to get better.


Five more Hog targets also expected to visit weekend of Oct. 19-21


2020 Arkansas offer Matthew Murrell (6-3 combo guard, Memphis Whitehaven, composite national No. 82 / 4-star prospect) will take one of his junior-year official visits to Arkansas over the weekend of Oct. 19-21, per a source. Arkansas offered Murrell in late August, and Hog coaches were in Memphis to watch him practice in mid-September. Murrell is a bouncy, confident slasher who has improved his ball-handling and perimeter shooting. He had an impressive summer playing up with Team Thad 17U on the Under Armour Association circuit. In addition to the Hogs, Murrell reportedly holds offers from Memphis, Tennessee, Florida, Ole Miss, Texas A&M, Illinois, and Iowa State. He’s friends with 2020 Hog offer Chris Moore of West Memphis.


2020 Arkansas offer Jaylin Williams (6-9 forward/center, Fort Smith Northside, Joe Johnson Hawks) will take an unofficial visit to Arkansas the weekend of Oct. 19-21, and he will be joined by 2021 Hog targets Jalen Ricks (6-5 combo guard, Sylvan Hills, Joe Johnson Hawks) and Terran Williams (6-4 wing, Baton via Marianna, Joe Johnson Hawks). Jaylin Williams and Ricks are expected to be at Bud Walton Arena along with Moody on Friday, Oct. 19, to watch the Hogs’ annual Red-White game, while Terran Williams has a football game Friday night with the Barton Bears and won’t begin his visit until Saturday, Oct. 20.


Jaylin Williams is a versatile big with soft hands, plus-court-awareness, and plus-face-up-skill, and he’s a good rebounder and rim-protector with emerging offensive post presence. An underrated prize with big-impact potential at the high-major level, he was a double-double machine for the 15U Hawks last spring and summer on the Adidas Gauntlet grassroots circuit before moving up two age levels to join the 17U Hawks in late July at the Las Vegas Fab 48, where he held his own against top-shelf talent. Jaylin Williams has taken unofficial visits to Arkansas in the past, and Watkins was in to watch him practice at Fort Smith Northside in September. He plans to take a junior-year official visit to Arkansas in the near future, and in addition to the Hogs he holds offers from TCU, Tulsa, and Lamar with Oklahoma State, Stanford, and other schools showing interest.


“I’m excited to go on my visit,” Jaylin Williams said. “I’m ready to see (the Hogs) play and see what’s in store for their season. Arkansas is my home, so they are always going to be one of the top on my list.” 


Ricks is arguably the top in-state prospect in the 2021 class, a spindly do-it-all backcourt talent who can stuff a stat sheet. After working his way back from injuries that sidelined him for most of the spring, Ricks had a big July and emerged as the Hawks’ most prolific 3-point threat to go along with his versatile skill-set that made him a match-up nightmare at all three levels. Ricks, who’s wingspan is at least 6-10,  holds a TCU offer with Arkansas, Indiana, Oklahoma State, and Auburn all showing interest. Watkins watched Ricks practice in September. 


“I’m looking forward to meeting the coaching staff and seeing campus,” Ricks said of his upcoming Arkansas visit. “Also looking forward to the events that are taking place that weekend. (Arkansas is) definitely top 5 as of now, love the idea of playing for the home state and also grew up watching and cheering for the Hogs.” 


Terran Williams is a bouncy wing, a plus-defender, an improved shooter, and arguably the fiercest slasher in Arkansas. He also holds a TCU offer with Arkansas, Auburn, Oklahoma State, and Colorado interest. 


2020 Arkansas offer and highly regarded Bryce Thompson (6-4 combo guard, Tulsa Booker T. Washington, ESPN national No. 45 / 4-star prospect) will likely be taking another unofficial visit to Fayetteville the weekend of Oct. 19-21.


“We are still trying to get it set around the (UA-Tulsa) football game,” Thompson’s dad, Rod Thompson, said. The football Hogs host Tulsa on Saturday, Oct. 20.


Thompson picked up his Arkansas offer in mid-September, shortly after Arkansas assistant coach Scotty Thurman watched him practice.


“I was ecstatic,” Thompson said at the time. “It was an amazing feeling. I felt really blessed and thankful at that moment. They’re definitely one of the schools at the top of my list. I enjoy Coach Anderson’s playing style, and I’ve talked to (Hog freshman) Keyshawn Embery-Simpson about Arkansas, and he says it’s an amazing place and he would like me to come there with him, so Arkansas is definitely up there at the top of my list.”


Thompson and Embery-Simpson know each other well as both played their grassroots basketball for OK Run PWP on the Under Armour Association circuit, and Rod Thompson is a long-time friend of Hog great and former NBA guard Lee Mayberry, who was a graduate assistant at Arkansas two years ago.


Thompson is a wired-to-score guard who can get it at all three levels, but he’s also developed the ability to facilitate for others while playing on the ball at the 1. He averaged 15.9 points, 3.0 rebounds, and 2.7 assists while playing up last spring and summer with OK Run PWP 17U.


In addition to the Hogs, Thompson holds offers from Kansas, Texas A&M, Colorado, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Iowa, Wake Forest, Minnesota, and Houston. He has already taken two of his junior-year official visits — Colorado and Texas A&M — and he recently took an unofficial visit to Kansas for the Jayhawks’ “Night in the Phog” event. He took an unofficial visit to Fayetteville in January when Arkansas nipped Oklahoma State by a point at Bud Walton Arena as part of the Big XII-SEC Challenge.


“The crowd when they do the Hog Call, that really stuck with me on my last visit,” Thompson said.


More 2020 Hoop Hogs recruiting and visit news


2020 Arkansas offer Chris Moore (6-6 combo forward, West Memphis, Woodz Elite, composite national No. 113 / 4-star prospect) took his first junior-year official visit to Fayetteville in early September, and has since been visited twice by Arkansas coaches who traveled to West Memphis to watch him practice, including a visit from Arkansas associate head coach Melvin Watkins on Monday, Oct. 8, which also happened to be Moore’s birthday. In addition to Arkansas, Moore has taken an official visit to Auburn and unofficial visits to Ole Miss and Iowa State in recent weeks. He’s taking an unofficial visit to North Carolina this weekend (Oct. 12-14) and will take an official visit to Kentucky later this month. Moore — he has offers from Arkansas, Iowa State, Oklahoma State, Ole Miss, Memphis, TCU, SMU, and others — plans to come back to  Fayetteville during the basketball season to attend a Razorbacks game. 


“It was a great visit, especially being my first official visit,” Moore said the night he returned home to West Memphis from Fayetteville. “The campus on the Hill is so amazing and the spirit the people there show isn’t very common. I see why they’re called the uncommon. Also, the coaching staff and the way they brought my family and I in and just made us feel like one of their own was a true blessing. All in all, the visit went well and (Arkansas) is especially one of my top places.


“(Arkansas coaches) said I fit the winner’s style of play. The staff told me they love winners, and the way my motor is and the competitiveness I have is something they don’t want to pass up on.”


2020 Arkansas offer Davonte Davis (6-3 point guard, Jacksonville, Woodz Elite, ESPN national No. 58 / 4-star prospect) will take an unofficial visit to Arkansas on Saturday, Nov. 10 — that’s when the football Hogs host LSU in Fayetteville, and a day after the basketball Hogs play Texas in their season opener in El Paso. Watkins was in Jacksonville in September to watch Davis practice. In addition to the Hogs, Davis holds offers from Oregon, Florida, Oklahoma State, Auburn, Ole Miss, and other schools. Davis plans to set a date for a junior-year official visit to Arkansas in the near future, he took his first OV to Auburn in late September, and he’s planning to take OVs to Ole Miss (Oct. 19-21) and Oklahoma State (Oct. 26-28). He’s also considering taking official visits to Oregon and Florida.


“Really looking forward to enjoying the atmosphere and getting to know all the new players they have competing this year,” Davis said of his upcoming unofficial visit to Arkansas on Nov. 10.


Both Moore and Davis stood out in the spring and summer playing with the Woodz Elite 16U, helping their team to July championships at the Nike Peach Jam and Las Vegas Fab 48. A picture of chiseled power with a relentless motor, Moore is an athletic and versatile combo forward who has added ball-handling and perimeter skill to his blue-collar, double-double interior resume. Davis is a long-armed, long-legged, wiry-strong lefty who combines quickness, skill, and long strides to get into the lane and to the basket seemingly at will. He’s a plus-facilitator with great court awareness and timing, an electrifying open-court playmaker who has improved his perimeter shot out to the 3-point line, and a dangerous defender who when locked in gets a lot of deflections and steals using that length and quickness.


Watkins was in Little Rock on Sept. 28 to watch 2020 Arkansas interest Nick Ongenda (6-10 forward / center, Southwest Christian Academy by way of Toronto, ESPN national No. 59 / 4-star prospect) practice. Ongenda reports offers from Oregon, Oklahoma State, Florida, and Oregon State with the Hogs, Western Kentucky, Wyoming, and others showing interest. Last weekend, Ongenda and the SCA Lions took part in the competitive LoneStar Juco/Prep Showcase in DFW that was attended heavily by D1 coaches, including Arkansas assistant coach T.J. Cleveland. Ongenda is long, athletic, and runs the floor well. He was a key piece to the Woodz Elite 16U’s title runs at the Nike Peach Jam and Las Vegas Fab 48, proving to be a consistent volume rebounder and shot blocker while also providing some scoring punch as an interior complement to Moore.


Other 2020 offers extended by Arkansas: Highly regarded Arkansas native Gerald Doakes (6-1 combo guard, Milby High School in Houston by way of Jacksonville), plus a couple of out-of-state 5-star recruits in Jalen Johnson (6-8 forward in Wisconsin) and Isaiah Jackson (6-9 forward in Michigan). No Arkansas visits have been announced so far for those three prospects. 


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