Reggie Perry De-Commits After 2 Weeks of Rumors

 

 

Hog fans have seen this movie before. Sure, there’s a different main character, but it’s the same gut-punching storyline: The high-profile baller who got away.

Combo forward Reggie Perry decommitted from Arkansas on Wednesday – two weeks after rumors began circulating that he was re-considering his options, and nearly a year after he proudly pledged to the Hogs as the centerpiece of what (until now) had held up as the top-rated national recruiting class for 2018.

“How did this happen?” will be asked a lot by Hog fans, and my unsolicited advice would be to swerve around all the speculative stuff that might come with that question and look no futher than Reggie Perry’s own words in his explanation to Scout.com, where he cited family health issues as the reason for his de-commitment.

Wherever Reggie Perry lands, he and his family have handled the situation the right way. They were right to shoot down erroneous mis-representations on social media a few days ago that suggested Perry had already de-committed. They were right to communicate with Arkansas head coach Mike Anderson first before making an announcement. And, they were right again to make an announcement sooner rather than later so that both parties — themselves and the Hogs — can move on.

The question is, how quickly can Hog fans move on? The last 5-star to spurn the Hogs was supposed to bring doom and gloom to the 2016-17 season, but all Arkansas did was go out and win 26 games, finish third in the SEC, second in the SEC tournament, make the NCAA tournament, and recruit a national Top 25 class for 2017.

Nobody likes losing a 5-star recruit, but more importantly, no individual loss is bigger than the program.

* * *

Anderson and his staff are zeroing in on a few more high-profile players for the Class of 2018.

T.J. Moss  a 6-4 shooting guard at nationally ranked Memphis East – is a prospect Arkansas has been recruiting for over a year,TJ Moss and it now appears the Hogs are focusing in on Moss as a “major target” in their efforts to add him to the ’18 class.

Moss is rated the composite national No. 88 prospect, a 4-star, according to 247Sports.com. He has reported an offer from Arkansas, as well as the likes of Florida, Iowa State, Arizona State, Vanderbilt, Georgia Tech, Alabama, Texas Tech, Marquette, TCU, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Connecticut, Memphis, and UMass.

Last spring and summer, Moss played up on the Adidas Gauntlet 17U circuit and was teammates with current Hog Darious Hall on Team Magic Elite. He’s also familiar with fellow 2018 ballers Ethan HendersonIsaiah Joe, and Desi Sills, who along with 2019 point guard Justice Hill have been committed to the Razorbacks since last year.

Moss, who along with Henderson took part in the Adidas Nations Global event last August in Anaheim, CA, competed this spring with M33M Elite 17U out of Memphis, averaging 11.1 points and an eye-popping 6.5 rebounds from the off-guard spot. It will be interesting to see if Moss continues on with M33M Elite during the three July live periods, or if he resurfaces with another team. This will be something to pay attention to in the next few days and weeks.

Moss’ lead recruiter at Arkansas is assistant coach T.J. Cleveland, and whichever grassroots team Moss suits up for in July, you can bet Arkansas coaches will be on hand to see plenty of the talented guard nicknamed “Easy.”

Moss has a smooth, effortless quality to his game, hence the “Easy” tag. His length and instincts are a plus, and he has an alpha-scorer mentality that you want in a shooting guard. Solid defender, and again, he’s a plus-rebounder for a guard.

ian steereAnother major target for the Hogs is 6-9 power forward Ian Steere of High Point (NC) and Team Charlotte 17U of the Under Armour Association grassroots hoops circuit. He recently confirmed that Arkansas is one of his “Top 7″ teams, and considering his offer list, that should be encouraging to Hog fans.

Steere — the composite national No. 200 prospect, a 4-star, for the Class of 2018 — became a national recruiting sensation just a few months ago, drawing offers from Arkansas, Kansas, Louisville, North Carolina State, Maryland, Florida State, Texas Tech, Pittsburgh, Missouri, Tennessee, Georgia, Connecticut, Seton Hall, Creighton, and others.

Steere took unofficial visits to North Carolina State, Creighton, and Louisville last month, and he told me he will be looking at taking a visit to Fayetteville in August. He wants to choose a school sooner rather than later.

“Yeah, before my senior season,” Steere said of when he’d like to announce his intentions.

Steere is a sturdy, strong, agile, and bouncy big man who has developed some nice post moves while continuing to improve his face-up and mid-range game. He shows excellent footwork around the basket before exploding with plus-athleticism and power to the rim.

Arkansas assistant coach Scotty Thurman is the lead recruiter for Steere, who was one of the most productive and efficient players on the UAA circuit in the spring.

If you want more big-man recruiting names in 2018, there’s at least two more with reported Hog offers.

The Hogs offered 6-7 combo forward Josh Leblanc of Baton Rouge (LA) and Louisiana Elite 17U of the Under Armour in early May, and they’ll be happy if Leblanc includes Arkansas in his list of ”top 8″ schools, which he told me he intends to release at the end of July.

Leblanc is the composite national No. 139 prospect, a 4-star, for the Class of 2018. He reports offers from Arkansas, LSU, Cincinnati, Minnesota,  Texas A&M, Georgetown, TCU, Iowa State, and more.

Thurman is the lead recruiter for Leblanc, who had a huge spring playing for Louisiana Elite while making several top 5 lists on the UAA grassroots circuit. He also turned heads recently at the prestigious NBPA Top 100 Camp in Virginia. His length and quick, explosive hops stand out, and his effort getting from end-to-end is an asset that was a hot topic among national recruiting analysts in June.

Arkansas offered 6-7 combo forward Deshang “DJ” Weaver a scholarship last fall, and the Hogs have been monitoring and evaluating Weaver’s progress after a severe knee injury that kept him out of basketball for nearly 18 months prior to his return to the court in late December 2016.

Weaver, who named Arkansas the leader for his services back in the spring, played roughly half a season with his high school team, Cypress Falls (TX), before joining the Arkansas Hawks 17U squad in late March. Weaver saw his minutes and production increase quite a bit in May, so look for July to be a big month for him as he seeks to show continued progress in his recovery from the knee injury.

In addition to Arkansas, Weaver is being recruited by Texas, TCU, Texas A&M, Houston, and others. His face-up and mid-range game are pluses, he can shoot the 3-ball effectively (he was the Hawks’ second-most efficient shooter from 3 on the Adidas Gauntlet), and he has a high court IQ.

July is always a huge recruiting month in basketball, especially for the seniors-to-be — which happens to be the 2018 class this summer. Offers and commitments will be pouring in over the next few weeks and months ahead, and don’t be surprised if new names pop onto the Hogs’ radar as they work toward the goal of wrapping up their 2018 class in time for the national early signing period in mid-November.

* * *

Hogs’ final 2017 signee joins his teammates in Fayetteville: When Gabe Osabuohien, the 6-7 combo forward from Southwest Christian Academy in Little Rock by way of Toronto, pledged to the Razorbacks in late May, he became the fifth and final signee of Mike Anderson’s top-25-rated 2017 class, joining fellow freshmen Daniel Gafford, Khalil Garland, Darious Hall as well as transfer Jalen Harris.

Now, Osabuohien becomes the final piece of that ’17 class to physically join his teammates in Fayetteville, arriving Sunday night after spending roughly five weeks at home in Toronto. The others moved onto campus the same week in late May that Osabuohien committed, allowing them to enroll in the first session of summer school. Osabuohien has arrived in time for the second session, which began today.

The 2017-18 season officially kicks off in early October when the NCAA allows schools to begin practicing. That gives Gafford, Garland, Hall, Osabuohien, and Harris another three months to acclimate to classes, campus, organized team activities, etc. before the official start of the season.

Reports are already surfacing that the Hog newcomers have been impressive in the NCAA-allowed, on-court participation activities and drills so far this summer.

As for Osabuohien, he became the first player from SCA to sign with Arkansas. SCA is not a prep school, but the program does bring in players internationally and has put several of them in successful high-major and mid-major NCAA Division 1 programs over the past couple of years: Eric Curry (from Memphis, signed with Minnesota in 2016 and helped Gophers to NCAA tournament); Tyrik Dixon (from Bentonville, signed with Middle Tennessee State in 2016 and started at point guard for an NCAAT team); Avery Benson (from Springdale, signed with Texas Tech in 2017); Mladen Armus (from Serbia, signed with East Tennessee State in 2017); Emir Ahmedic (from Serbia, signed with Oral Roberts in 2017).

It will be interesting to see to what extent SCA can become a recruiting pipeline for Arkansas, Little Rock, Arkansas State, Central Arkansas, Arkansas-Pine Bluff, and Arkansas-Fort Smith.

* * *

New name in UA’s 2019 recruiting efforts says Hogs are among his top two: Junior-to-be Mario “Rio” McKinney, Jr. – a 6-0 combo guard at St. Louis (MO) Vashon and Bradley Beal Elite 16U on the Nike EYBL circuit — has confirmed that Arkansas has been recruiting him while maintaining daily communication since the NCAA first allowed direct contact with Class of 2019 prospects in June.

McKinney says the Hogs are near the very top of his wish list.

“Mizzou and Arkansas are my two favorites,” he said. “I like Arkansas because they play fast, and that’s how I like to play. They get up and down, they trap, they’re scrappy.”

McKinney — ranked the composite national No. 105 prospect, a 4-star, for the Class of 2019 according to 247Sports.com – has reported offers from Missouri, Xavier, Auburn, Kansas State, DePaul, St. Louis, Tulsa, and Southern Miss. He recently showed well at the prestigious Nike Elite 100 Camp in his hometown.

McKinney said Arkansas associate head coach Melvin Watkins has been recruiting him.

“We text every day,” McKinney said, adding, “and we’ve talked (on the phone) a couple of times already. I pan on visiting (Fayetteville) by the end of the summer, but if not by then, I’d like to visit on a weekend during the season.”

McKinney also talked about his aggressive playing style and competitive personality.

“I’m explosive, real athletic, and I’m all over the place” he said. “I play hard, with a chip on my shoulder because I hate to lose. I just want to win.”

Arkansas already has one commitment for the Class of 2019: Little Rock Christian Academy and Arkansas Hawks 17U point guard Justice Hill, who may end up reclassifying to the 2018 class.

The Hogs are known to be recruiting several more Class of 2019 players with Arkansas ties: Shawn Fudge (6-3 wing, Arkansas Hawks 16U) and Collin Moore (6-4 wing, Wings Elite 16U), who both play at North Little Rock High School; and Mylik Wilson (6-3 shooting guard, Wings Elite 16U by way of Rayville, LA).

Wilson also attended the recent Nike Elite 100 Camp, and he had positive takeaways from the experience.

“It was a great experience for me,” said Wilson, who just received a scholarship offer from Grambling State to go along with recruiting interest from Arkansas, LSU, and Louisiana Tech. “I learned a few things while I was there that I can add to my game.”

* * *

Hogs’ 2017-18 hoops schedule already shaping up to be the best in years: Although all opponents and dates have not been finalized, what we already know about the Hogs’ upcoming slate indicates the final version will be their best schedule in years, both the non-conference and SEC.

Oklahoma (Phil Knight 80 Invitational in Portland, OR), MinnesotaOklahoma StateHouston, and Colorado State are the only known “name” non-conference games at this time, plus the season-opener against Samford on November 10.

A win over the Sooners in the opening round of that PK80 event – a 16-team field playing over Thanksgiving weekend — will likely mean a second-round matchup with defending national champion North Carolina. That would be a chance for revenge just eight months after the Tar Heels came from behind late to clip the Hogs in the third round of the NCAA tournament en route to a national title. Arkansas is also guaranteed to face one of these four teams in the PK80 event: Michigan State, Oregon, Georgetown, or UConn.

Minnesota, which finished last year as an RPI Top 25 / NCAAT team, will be a tough and exciting home game in December at Bud Walton Arena. The Hogs get Oklahoma State in January, again, in the SEC-Big XII Challenge, but this time it’s at home.

Houston, which finished third last season in the respected American Athletic Conference while sporting a final Top 50ish RPI, will host the Hogs in December at the Toyota Center in Houston, where Arkansas upended Texas last season in a neutral-site game. Colorado State will travel to Fayetteville for a December matchup, and the Rams won 20-plus games last year in the tough Mountain West Conference.

And when you look at the Hogs’ SEC games — especially at home — it only adds to the sexiness of the schedule.

Arkansas hosts Kentucky (Elite Eight last year), Missouri (Tigers already ranked in some way-too-early Top 25s), Texas A&M (projected to top-third of the SEC next season),  South Carolina (Final Four last season), Vanderbilt (NCAAT team last year in Bryce Drew’s first season as head coach), Auburn, Ole Miss, Tennessee, and LSU.

The Razorbacks travel to play Florida (Elite Eight last year, will be Hogs’ fourth-straight season to play in Gainesville), Alabama (will be picked top-third of SEC), Mississippi State (Ben Howland has been recruiting well in Starkville), Georgia (always in the top-half of the SEC), plus return road games against Ole Miss, Auburn, Missouri, Texas A&M, and LSU.

Arkansas’s final schedule with all opponents and game dates will likely be announced in August. From this vantage point, it seems an easy bet to be their best schedule of the Mike Anderson era.

* * *

More Hogs and hoops scribble …

* Former Hog Moses Kingsley has been signed to the Minnesota Timberwolves NBA Summer League roster, which begins playing July 8 in the league’s Las Vegas event. The 6-10 Kingsley, who went undrafted, can use the NBA’s Summer League as a springboard for multiple professional hoops opportunities. The native Nigerian was twice name All SEC Second Team, and he earned All SEC Defensive Team honors last season.

* Former Hog Dusty Hannahs has signed to play overseas with AZS Koszalin in the top Poland professional league. Hannahs, a native son of the 501, led the Hogs in scoring in both his junior and senior seasons after transferring from Texas Tech.

* Congrats to the Arkansas Hawks 17U and 16U, the Wings Elite 16U and 15U, and the Team Superstar South 15U squads for all qualifying for the July championship tournaments of the three major shoe companies. The Hawks will compete in the Adidas Gauntlet Finale in Spartanburg, S.C. next week. The Wings will compete in the Nike Peach Jam in North Augusta, GA, next week. And TSS will compete in the Under Armour Association Finals in Atlanta next week.

* * *

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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