By Kevin McPherson
LITTLE ROCK — New Arkansas head basketball coach Eric Musselman continues to ring the recruiting bell.
A 2021 offer to a wing, a grad-transfer guard’s visit plans, and a junior college big listing Arkansas in his Top 5 — ALL of it was on the menu Tuesday for a new Head Hog whose early tenure in Fayetteville has so far been defined by a daily flurry of recruiting activity.
Musselman — he extended five scholarship offers to 2020 prospects in his first five days on the job last week followed by three grad-transfers announcing on Monday their intentions to visit Arkansas — on Tuesday made another offer as Trey Alexander (6-5 guard, Heritage Hall in Oklahoma, Team Griffen 16U, composite national No. 32 / 4-star) became the Razorbacks’ first Class of 2021 target to receive an offer.
“Yeah, I’ve seen how Arkansas has carried themselves,” Alexander said when asked if he’s interested in Arkansas. “I haven’t been in real contact with the coaches. Kellen (McCoy), my Team Griffen coach, was on the phone with (Arkansas) and he told me (about the offer).”
Alexander, who scored 12 points in Team Griffen’s 29-point win Friday against Arkansas-based Woodz Elite 16U, said on Friday (prior to receiving his Arkansas offer) that he is interested in Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and SMU. In addition to those schools, he holds offers from Texas A&M and Tulsa.
Alexander is related to former Arkansas track-and-field Hall of Famer and Olympic gold medalist Mike Conley, Sr.
“I’m very close to the Conley family. Mike Conley is my cousin and we go down there like a couple of times each year (to visit).”
Alexander is long, smooth, and skilled, and his feel and court awareness at both ends of the court stand out.
Below are his tweet Tuesday announcing his Arkansas offer, as well as my tweet with a brief highlight from Alexander’s game in Northwest Arkansas on Friday night.
Top 5 juco Khadim Sy lists Arkansas in his Top 5
Daytona State (FL) College big man Khadim Sy (6-10, 245, forward / center, native of Dakar, Senegal, junior-college national No. 4 prospect according to JucoRecruiting.com) announced via Twitter on Tuesday his top 5 college options — Arkansas, LSU, Ole Miss, Pittsburgh, and East Carolina.
“I think Coach (Eric) Musselman came in and made (Sy) a priority, talked to him about his vision for him (at Arkansas), and Khadim is intrigued,” said Daytona State head coach Brock Morris.
Sy, who was a freshman at Virginia Tech in 2016-17 before transferring to Daytona State, averaged 16.8 points and 9.8 rebounds while shooting 55.1% from the field and 67.9% free throws as a redshirt sophomore in ’18-19. Morris said Sy was a juco honorable mention All American in ’18-19, as well as the Player of the Year in the Mid Florida juco conference.
In his one season with the Hokies in the ACC, Sy averaged 4.0 points and 2.7 rebounds while shooting 56.7% field goals in 32 games. A former player at prestigious Oak Hill (VA) Academy, Sy will have two years to play two at the NCAA Division 1 level beginning in ’19-20.
Morris said that Sy has already taken two official visits — to East Carolina and Pitt — with a planned visit set for next week to Ole Miss.
“Not sure, still working on it,” Morris said when asked about visit dates to Arkansas and LSU.
Sy’s teammate at Daytona, DouDou Gueye (6-8 combo forward) held an offer from the previous Hogs coaching staff, but Morris said he was not sure if the new Arkansas coaching regime would also be in pursuit of Gueye.
Grad-transfer guard Jahaad Proctor reportedly to visit Arkansas in early May
High Point’s Jahaad Proctor (6-3 guard, native of Harrisburg, PA) becomes the fourth grad-transfer in the last two days to confirm intentions of visiting Arkansas in the next two weeks. CBS Sports college basketball insider Jon Rothstein broke the news of Proctor’s upcoming Arkansas visit of May 3-5 via Twitter on Tuesday.
Proctor earned second-team All Big South honors after averaging 19.5 points, 3.8 rebounds, 3.3 assists, and 1.3 steals in 34.6 minutes per game while shooting 46.4% field goals, including 33.1% from 3, plus 77.1% free throws as a junior in 2018-19 for High Point, which finished 16-15 overall and 9-7 in the Big South. As a redshirt sophomore at High Point in ’17-18, Proctor also made the All Big South second team after averaging 15.6 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 3.0 assists per game while shooting 43.2% from 3.
Proctor, who began his career at Iona as a freshman in ’15-16 before transferring to High Point, will be a 5th-year senior with immediateeligibility in ’19-20. Rothstein reported that Proctor will also visit Purdue the weekend of April 24-26.
In addition to the Razorbacks and Boilermakers, Proctor is reportedly drawing interest from West Virginia, Wichita State, Stanford, and Virginia Tech.
The three other grad-transfer visits to Arkansas were announced on Monday.
According to a source, grad-transfer Jeantal Cylla (6-7 forward, North Carolina-Wilmington) is set to take his official visit to Arkansas this weekend (April 19-21). Cylla, who played two seasons at Florida Atlantic before transferring to UNCW, averaged 13.7 points and 4.6 rebounds in 28.2 minutes per game while shooting 42.7% field goals (including 31.1% from 3 while averaging one make per game from distance) and 84.8% free throws. Cylla will have one year of immediate playing eligibility once he transfers.
Ohio State, Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, Georgia, Wisconsin, and Oregon State are the high-major programs reportedly interested in Cylla.
Grad-transfer Jaire Grayer (6-5 guard, George Mason) said he’ll take his visit to Arkansas on Monday, April 22.
“Yes I am,” Grayer said of his set visit plans to Fayetteville. “It just seems like a great opportunity for me. I like what Coach Muss has to bring as a coach.”
Grayer averaged 8.8 points and 3.1 rebounds in 19.5 minutes per outing through seven games played in his 2018-19 senior campaign at George Mason — a season that ended abruptly with a foot injury that has led him to seek a medical redshirt and a subsequent extra year of eligibility in ’19-20. In parts of four seasons combined at George Mason, Grayer averaged a combined 11.0 points and 5.3 rebounds while shooting 35% from 3.
Grayer’s father, Jeff Grayer, was an NBA journeyman for roughly a decade (late 1980s to late 1990s).
“My Dad and my Mom have helped me develop as a player ever since I was a kid,” Jaire Grayer said. “Been right there teaching me the inds and outs of the game.”
Grad-transfer Haanif Cheatham (6-5 wing, Florida Gulf Coast) confirmed on Sunday that he would in fact be taking an official visit to Arkansas, then on Monday he said he’s looking to do so in early May.
“Most likely May 3-5th,” Cheatham said. “Waiting to confirm it.”
Cheatham, ranked national No. 75 and a 4-star prospect coming out of high school in 2015, will have one season of immediate playing eligibility in ’19-20. He spent two full seasons and part of a third at Marquette of the Big East conference before transferring to FGCU where he averaged 13.2 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 1.9 assists as a starter through 10 games in ’18-19 before suffering a shoulder injury that ended his season.
“I’ll be 100% for the (’19-20) season,” said Cheatham, who in addition to Arkansas is also considering Cincinnati and Nebraska.
Additionally, Musselman and Arkansas may be interested in Jared Bynum, a 5-10 freshman guard who is exploring a transfer from St. Joseph’s after averaging 11.3 points, 4.5 assists, and 3.6 rebounds for the Hawks in 2018-19.
Musselman’s philosophy of recruiting transfers in bulk is tied to his experience as an NBA coach coupled with the rapid growth of NCAA Division 1 transfers over the years. According to VerbalCommits.com, the number of announced transfers so far in 2019 is fast approaching 600 players (704 in 2018 representing 12.7% of D1 hoopers, and 698 in 2017 representing 12.6%).
Musselman likens a college transfer to a free agent player at the professional level.
“We have vetted them (transfers) and really done an incredible amount of research,” Musselman said last week during the State of the Hogs fan event in North Little Rock. “We talk to them about ‘Why are you leaving, and what are you looking for in your next stop, and we’re about the team and we’re not about the individual.’ And we’ve had incredible character — high, high character — and great students that have come in as transfers.
“I think it is the nature of where our society is in all sports. And basketball probably has more (transfers) than the other sports.”
High school coach of two 2020 Arkansas offers expects both to visit
Hillcrest Prep (AZ) coach Nick Weaver expects new 2020 Arkansas offers and Hillcrest teammates Kyree Walker (6-5 wing, composite national No. 19 / a 5-star prospect) and Dalen Terry (6-6 point guard, composite national No. 35 / a 4-star prospect) to visit Arkansas soon.
“They have a great relationship with Coach Musselman and staff there,” Weaver said on Tuesday. “They really respect Coach Muss a lot! I believe both will visit (Arkansas) soon.”
Walker is strong and athletic, and he’s an elite slasher and finisher. There is talk that Walker is considering reclassifying to the 2019 class. Terry is a versatile 6-6 point guard who averaged more than 14 points and 11 assists as a junior in 2018-19.
Also last week, Musselman extended three scholarship offers to top-shelf in-state 2020 prospects: Moses Moody (6-5 shooting guard, Little Rock native, Montverde Academy in Florida, ESPN 5-star prospect); Jaylin Williams (6-10 forward / center, Fort Smith Northside); and Chris Moore (6-6 combo forward, West Memphis, composite national 4-star prospect).