By Kevin McPherson
LITTLE ROCK — Belmont sophomore-transfer Adam Kunkel entered the transfer portal on Tuesday, and not known for being late to the portal party Eric Musselman has Arkansas among the first throng of schools to reach out.
Kunkel (6-3, 165, guard, native of Hebron, Ky.) confirmed with Hogville.net on Wednesday that the Razorbacks have indeed initiated contact with him. According to Wednesday reporting by ESPN’s Jeff Borzello, multiple high-major programs have reached out to Kunkel — Kentucky, Louisville, Oklahoma, St. John’s, Cincinnati, Iowa State, Creighton, Xavier, and Dayton.
One of the top 3-point shooters in the country combining volume and efficiency and the Bruins’ leading scorer, Kunkel was first-team All Ohio Valley Conference as a sophomore in 2019-20 after starting 32 of 33 games and averaging 16.5 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 2.6 assists in 29.8 minutes while shooting 43.3% from the field — including an impressive 83-of-213 from 3 for 39.0% — and 82.1% from the free throw line.
Kunkel scored 20 or more points 8 times last season, including a career-high 35 (10-of-20 field goals, including 5-of-9 from 3, and 10-of-10 free throws) in Belmont’s road win, 100-85, over Boston College of the ACC in November. He also had 16 points in Belmont’s 76-75 win over Murray State in the Ohio Valley Conference tournament championship game on March 7, which punched Belmont’s NCAAT automatic bid ticket had the season not ended abruptly due to the coronavirus pandemic. Both teams tied for the regular-season OVC title at 15-3 as Belmont finished 26-7 overall.
Barring an NCAA waiver for immediate playing eligibility, Kunkel would sit out a transfer-redshirt season in ’20-21 with two years of playing eligibility beginning in ’21-22.
The Kentucky native is thought to be a priority target of the homestate Wildcats of the SEC with Louisville, Cincy, and Xavier all being destinations that are close to home.
Arkansas may be in a position to have an open scholarship soon if junior guard Isaiah Joe — the top 3-point shooter in the SEC and arguably the best in the country — opts to remain in the 2020 NBA Draft pool (he has an NCAA-mandated Aug. 3 deadline to withdraw from the draft if he wishes to return to school).
As good as Kunkel is from distance (mostly as a confident spot-up shooter with some economized dribble set-up), he’s also crafty and aggressive in transition as he attacks defenders and the rim with skill and purpose.