Luxury Seating for Hogs on the Recruiting Trail

 

 

The Arkansas Razorbacks currently boast the nation’s No. 1 hoops recruiting class for 2018 — on the strength of four early, 4-star commitments from the Arkansas Hawks — and that gives them the luxury of being selective, or “picky” as one Hog assistant recently conveyed, as they look to fill the two remaining scholarships for ’18.

The Hogs also have a scholarship to give to close out the 2017 class — I fully expect they will do that in the spring — but in the event they do not, it means Arkansas would have a third available scholarship to round out the 2018 class.

But, let’s assume the Hogs have only two more to give to add to the four who are already committed — Reggie Perry, Ethan Henderson, Desi Sills, and Isaiah Joe. Based on recent recruiting activity, it appears the Hogs are focused on a guard and a swingman/SF/wing to fill those two remaining spots.

Here is a breakdown of the prospects the Hogs are still evaluating and recruiting, with a focus on the five who I believe are at the top of their list (as you’ll see, most are highly regarded, 4-star level players) …

* Courtney Ramey, 6-3 combo guard, Webster Groves (MO), composite national Top 75 / 4-star prospect … holds a Hog offer. Ramey is likely the Hogs’ top uncommitted target for the 2018 class. Going back to the summer of 2015, Ramey has taken a couple of unofficial visits to Fayetteville. The UA coaches’ relationship with the Rameys — Courtney and his Dad, Terrell — goes back a ways, so it was no surprise when Ramey announced his “final 13″ on Jan. 16 that the Hogs made the cut. Hogs’ assistant coach Scotty Thurman has been to see Ramey play in recent weeks, and the Hogs obviously hope to get Ramey back to Fayetteville for a visit.

Ramey’s final 13 include Arkansas, Louisville (may be the team to beat for his services), Florida, Texas, Southern Cal, Marquette, Ohio State, Illinois, Creighton, Iowa State, Missouri, Kansas State, and Northwestern.

Ramey, rated a Top 20 / 5-star prospect by Scout.com, had an impressive showing last summer at the prestigious NBPA Top 100 camp in Charlottesville, VA. He’s not only a strong scorer and facilitator, but he’s an excellent rebounder as well as a capable, instinctive defender.

* Rodgerick Brown, 6-6 wing / small forward, Cordova (TN), composite national Top 100 / 4-star prospect …recruiting basketball holds a Hog offer. Brown was offered by the Hogs in the spring of 2016, and he has made at least 2 unofficial visits to Fayetteville (one in September and the most-recent visit was for the Hogs-vs-Mount St. Mary’s basketball game in late November).

Arkansas assistant coach T.J. Cleveland is the lead recruiter for Brown, who has repeatedly said the Hogs are the leaders for his services (he confirmed again last week). Brown said he talks with Cleveland often, and head coach Mike Anderson was in attendance for a recent holiday tournament that Brown played in with Cordova. Brown has offers from Arkansas, Penn State, and Chattanooga with Tennessee, Memphis, Iowa State, and others showing interest. He has visited the Vols unofficially a couple of times. He plans to announce his college choice in the summer, possibly as late as August when the grassroots basketball circuits have concluded play.

Brown averages 21.6 points, 13.6 rebounds, 2.2 blocks, and 2.0 steals for Cordova (14-4). He is averaging a double-double for the Wolfpack for the third consecutive season. Brown is a relentless slasher and rebounder, and takes pride in being a stopper on defense. Some in Memphis hoops circles have said he is the best athlete playing basketball in Shelby County.

* Keyshawn Embery, 6-3 combo guard, Midwest City (OK), composite national Top 100 / 4-star prospect … Hog recruit. I expect the Hogs to offer Embery any day now. I was told weeks ago an offer would be extended “soon”, then on Wed, Jan. 18, I was told it could be within a week or two.

At the time of this writing (Thurs., Jan. 19), Arkansas HC Mike Anderson was in Midwest City to watch Embery play. Embery told me he did not get an offer during Anderson’s visit on Thursday, but with the Hogs playing at Oklahoma State as part of the SEC-Big XII Challenge on Jan. 28 (a week from Saturday), it’s conceivable they’ll see him again next week and offer then, if not sooner. Embery took an unofficial visit to Fayetteville back in September (same weekend that Rodgerick Brown visited).

Embery scored 50 points in a Midwest City victory not too long ago, then followed that up with a 47-point game in the past week. He can score at all 3 levels, and if you’ve seen him play, he’s got some “dog” in him. I’ve said that about ’18 Hog commit Desi Sills of Jonesboro, and Embery has it, too.

Embery holds offers from Oklahoma State, Kansas State, UNLV, Nebraska, and Tulsa with Oklahoma, Texas, TCU and others showing interest.

* Deshang “DJ” Weaver, 6-7 combo forward, Cypress Falls (TX), composite national Top 150 / 4* prospect … holds a Hog offer. Weaver was considered a Top 10 prospect nationally as a freshman before suffering a knee injury that caused him to miss all of his sophomore season (2015-16) as well as the entire 2016 spring/summer AAU/grassroots basketball circuit. He also missed November and most of December during the current ’16-’17 high school season.

Since his return, Weaver has been playing on a reduced-minutes basis, getting anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes per game. He’s averaging 10.1 minutes, 6.0 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks per outing through 9 games. His Mom, former Olympic sprinter Angela Williams, recently told me that DJ and his coaches believe he is gaining a renewed confidence in his rehabilitated knee. He had 5 blocked shots in his most-recent game for Cypress Falls, and a photo from the game showed his hand and forearm extended well above the rim.

Weaver took part in the UA’s elite camp in the summer of 2015, then was back in Fayetteville for an unofficial visit a few months ago when he was offered by the Hogs. He has also agreed to join the Arkansas Hawks 17U team for the 2017 spring/summer Adidas Uprising circuit. As most know by now, all 5 starters for the Hawks have committed to play for Arkansas, so Weaver will surely hear plenty of recruiting pitches over the summer.

Arkansas, Kansas, Texas, Baylor, TCU, and Houston have all been recruiting Weaver since his freshman season.

* T.J. “Easy” Moss, 6-3 shooting guard, Memphis East (TN), composite national Top 75 / 4* prospect … holds a Hog offer. Moss is one of the best deep-range shooters in the country, and in combination with ’18 shooter-scorer Isaiah Joe of Fort Smith who is already committed to the Hogs, Moss would enhance Arkansas’s perimeter firepower if he were to come on board.

Moss is more than just a shooter, though, and is smooth and polished with his array of dribble-drive mid-range moves.  Like his nickname suggests, Moss makes getting buckets look easy. He’s got long arms and is active to disrupt passing lanes and get deflections on defense. Moss teamed up with ’17 Hog signee / ESPN 4-star Darious Hall of Little Rock Mills over the summer on the Team Magic Elite of Memphis grassroots basketball squad that participated in the Adidas Uprising 17U circuit. Moss is also familiar and friendly with the Arkansas Hawks’ players.

Hog coaches have visited Moss, but he has yet to set up a visit to Fayetteville. He holds reported offers from Arkansas, Alabama (may be the team to beat), UConn, Florida, Iowa State, Georgia Tech, Memphis, UMass, TCU, and Ole Miss with Arizona, Kansas, UCLA, and Marquette showing interest.

More Hog recruits for class of 2018 …

* Alex Lomax, 5-11 PG, Memphis East, composite national Top 125 / 4-star prospect … Hog recruit. Lomax is teammates at Memphis East with ’18 Hog offer T.J. Moss, and he was AAU teammates on Team Penny with ’17 Hog signee Khalil Garland and ’17 Hog recruit Javon Franklin, both of Little Rock Parkview. Lomax recently talked about his recruitment, and pointed out that Arkansas was the only team among his top suitors that had not yet offered him a scholarship. He holds reported offers from Cal, Florida, LSU, Ole Miss, Memphis, Seton Hall, Temple, and UMass.

* Ryan Boyce, 6-5 wing, Germantown (TN), composite national Top 125 / 4-star prospect … Hog recruit. I expect the Hogs’ coaches to be in the Memphis area in the coming weeks to visit Boyce. He has reported offers from Villanova, Florida, Wake Forest, Ole MIss, Memphis, UMass, and Western Kentucky.

* Greg Williams, 6-3 combo guard, Lafayette (LA), composite national Top 125 / 4-star prospect … Hog recruit. Williams is a physical, attacking guard who is not bashful about getting to the rim in the land of the trees. Scrappy on-ball defender. Arkansas and Iowa State are showing interest.

* Sharone Wright, JR., 6-5 combo guard, Memphis East, composite national Top 150 / 3-star prospect … Hog offer. Wright’s Dad was a former NBA player, and he has an impressive list of reported offers: Hogs, Auburn, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Clemson, Kansas State, Memphis, and Virginia Commonwealth. Wright prefers a halfcourt-game style of play, and he is a smart handler and slasher. Hog coaches saw him play in a recent holiday tournament, but it is unclear if or when Wright might visit Fayetteville.

* Jacobi Gordon, 6-6 swingman, Houston, composite national Top 125 / 4-star prospect … Hog offer. Gordon is a slasher and smooth open-court player who can also knock down the 3 … reminds me a smidge of Todd Day in size/stature, his confidence, and his offensive creativity. Hogs offered him in June, and associate head coach Melvin Watkins recently saw him play in a Las Vegas holiday event. Gordon reportedly also holds offers from Baylor, Oregon, Iowa State, Oklahoma, LSU, Miami, North Carolina State, Oklahoma State, Houston, DePaul, Texas A&M, TCU, SMU, and Penn State.

* Javian Fleming, 6-8 power forward / center, Canton (MS), composite national Top 250 / 3-star prospect … Hog recruit. Assistant coach TJ Cleveland has been in to visit Fleming withing the past 60 days. The big man is not a plus-athlete but has soft hands and knows how to maneuver his large frame inside to create space for himself to get off clean looks around the basket. He has offers from LSU, TCU, Iowa State, Ole Miss, Alabama, Auburn, Cincinnati, and Middle Tennessee State among others.

* Gabe Kalscheur, 6-4 shooting guard, Minneapolis (MN), composite national Top 250 / 3-star prospect … Hog recruit. Hogs assistant coach Scotty Thurman has been actively recruiting Kalscheur — a shooter – since the spring, and he made an unofficial visit to Fayetteville awhile back. Kalscheur reportedly holds offers from Minnesota, Drake, Northern Iowa, and North Dakota, and he is thought to be a lock to the Gophers.

* Duane Washington, Jr., 6-3 point guard, Grand Rapids (MI), 3-star prospect … Hog recruit. Washington is the son of former Little Rock Parkview guard Duane Washington, Sr., who played briefly in the NBA and is the brother of former Little Rock Parkview, UALR, and NBA player Derek Fisher. Duane Washington, Jr., recently took an unoffical visit to Fayetteville. The Hogs, Michigan, and Michigan State have shown interest.

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Kevin McPherson is a former sportswriter and editor at both the Arkansas Gazette and Arkansas Democrat, as well as a former contributor to newspapers in Northwest Arkansas — covering Arkansas Razorbacks basketball, high school football and basketball, and basketball recruiting. He’s entering his 13th year as a mortgage banker with Bank of England, but he still covers Razorback basketball and recruiting as well as high school sports. You can join him live every Monday and Thursday at 1:30 CST on The Hog Call, KREB 1190 The Fan in Northwest Arkansas by clicking here: http://1190thefan.com/listen-live/ You can also follow him live on Twitter @ARHoopScoop.

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