What Will Jalen Harris Mean for the Hogs?

 

 

Several names popped onto the radar over the past couple of months as the Arkansas Razorbacks looked to add the final piece to their 2017 basketball recruiting class, but on Friday night, the most recent of those names that had flown mostly under the radar pledged his commitment to head coach Mike Anderson and the Hogs.

Jalen Harris, a 6-2 point guard who was a freshman at New Mexico in 2016-17, will transfer from the Lobos hoops program to Arkansas, where he will sit out the 2017-18 season and have three years to play beginning in 2018-19.

Harris, who averaged 4.5 points and 2.3 assists while playing just over 20 minutes per game last season as a college freshman, was originally recruited by Arkansas and assistant coach T.J. Cleveland before he signed with New Mexico in 2016. He came back onto Arkansas’s wish list when he announced his intentions to transfer a month ago, but the Hogs had made offers to five other prospects in the spring period – Zhaire SmithMichael WeathersAmauri HardyKenny Wooten, and Shakwon Barrett – before extending an offer to Harris.

Harris, who played high school at Word of God Christian Academy in Rawleigh, N.C., visited Arkansas on Thursday, Friday (he committed late Friday night), and Saturday.

Smith (signed with Texas Tech), Hardy (signed with UNLV), and Barrett (signed with Tulane) all visited Fayetteville prior to Harris, while Weathers (transferring to Oklahoma State) and Wooten (signed with Oregon) did not visit Fayetteville.

As a prospect, Jalen Harris is athletic and long at 6-2, and he’s a solid ballhandler with excellent court awareness. He’s also fast without sacrificing ball skill when he is at full speed, which looks to be a great fit for what Anderson covets in his Fastest 40 system of basketball.

Harris also helps fill a need for a facilitating point guard. The catch is, the Hogs have to wait a year for him to help in games. But if junior guards Daryl Macon and Jaylen Barford both withdraw their names from the NBA draft in time to return to the Hogs — coupled with the expected return of guards Anton Beard and C.J. Jones– Arkansas will be fine in the backcourt next season.

Arkansas had already signed a talented 2017 class with size and athleticism in the November early period — 6-11 center Daniel Gafford of El Dorado, 6-5 combo guard Khalil Garland of Little Rock Parkview, and 6-6 small forward / wing Darious Hall of Little Rock Mills — so the spring addition of Harris caps off a successful ’17 haul.

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Class of 2017 Arkansas prospects commit and sign: Two seniors who were of recruiting interest to the Hogs — Parkview forward Javon Franklin and El Dorado combo guard Czar Perry – have both announced their college intentions.

Franklin, a 6-6 plus-athlete who received interest from Arkansas and Little Rock, is expected to attend Holmes Community College in Mississippi, the same school that Arkansas junior guard Daryl Macon played at before transferring to Arkansas. Jason Flanigan, son of Parkview HC Al Flanigan, coaches at Holmes.

The Hogs’ coaching staff paid a visit to Franklin recently, and it’s likely they’ll continue to recruit him as he’s expected to be available in the Class of 2019 as a junior-college transfer.

Perry, who’s recruitment took several twists and turns over the past month, strongly considered walking on at Arkansas. But in the span of a few days last week, he went from announcing he would re-classify to 2018 and attend The Skill Factory prep school in Atlanta to committing to NCAA Division 1 Northwestern State.

Perry picked up his offer from the Demons early last week, then committed on Friday before signing his national letter of intent at his high school gym in El Dorado on Saturday night. He was also visited by Kansas State and Little Rock two weeks ago, and had been seen by coaches from Southern Miss as well. 

Perry talked about his decision to commit and sign with Northwestern State: “I really like it, the coaches believe in me, and I feel I can lead them to something special.”

If you’ve ever watched Perry play, and if you’ve ever watched the Northwestern State Demons play — the Hogs had a couple of tough tussles with them in recent years — you know the fit is a great one. The Demons love to play fast and furious covering all 94 feet for 40 minutes, and that style of play fits right in Perry’s wheelhouse.

Both Franklin and Perry were named @ARHoopScoop First Team All Arkansas for 2016-17.

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Other in-state commitments, signings and newsDeion Dobbins, a 6-5 forward from North Little Rock, signed with Division 1 Mississippi Valley State; Tyree Appleby of Jacksonville announced a host of Division 1 offers, including Missouri State; Matthew Stanley of Cabot, a 6-8 forward who reportedly received on offer from Memphis recently, signed with coach Dennis Nutt and Ouachita Baptist; Raekwon Rogers, a 6-5 forward from Little Rock Central, signed with Henderson State; Trevor Atwell, a 6-6 forward from Harrison, signed with Northark College in Harrison; and the trio of Southwest Christian Academy seniors – Avery BensonGabe Osahuobien, and Mladen Armus – visited and worked out with the Hogs two weeks ago, and all three are expected to commit and sign with Division 1 schools soon.

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All-Star season in Arkansas reveals the best of the stars: After attending three postseason all-star games featuring Arkansas prospects — Metro Classic in Little Rock, Mike Conley Jr. All Star Classic in Memphis, and Central Arkansas Senior Showcase in Little Rock – here is my ALL All-Star-Game TEAM …

Daniel Gafford: The ’17 Hog signee dazzled at the Conley Classic in Memphis by homing 7 spectacular in-game dunks while earning game MVP honors, then he came back a week later and won the dunk contest at the Senior Showcase in Little Rock by jumping over a ball rack while wind-milling a big-time hammer. In both games, Gafford recorded double-doubles and put on a show for crowds in two different states.

Khalil Garland: The 501 Boss filled the stat sheets in both the Metro Classic and the Senior Showcase — although he skipped the Conley All Star Clasic in favor of the Little Rock Central prom. Still, in his two all-star apperances, Garland put his athleticism and skill on full display. Best guard in the state did not disappoint, and after his team defeated Gafford and Hall’s team in the Senior Showcase, KG playfully pointed to the scoreboard and reminded his two future Hog teammates who was victorious in a post-game interview.

* Darious Hall: DayDay is always a crowd pleaser, and he was fun to watch getting buckets at all 3 levels in both the Conley Classic in Memphis and the Senior Showcase (which was played on his homecourt at Mills). Best forward in Arkansas is a match-up nightmare, but he was all smiles as he played to the benches and the crowds in both all-star affairs.

* Czar Perry: Took game MVP honors after scoring 22 points in the Senior Showcase in Little Rock, but also had a nice game in the Conley Classic in Memphis. One of the most fun players to watch in the regular season was a treat on the all-star-game circuit, too.

* Cam Johnson: Strong, quick, athletic, and skilled! Cam got a double-double in the Metro Classic, then put up 20-plus points in the Senior Showcase. Baller gets his at all 3 levels.

* Marquis Eaton: Only saw him at the Conley Classic in Memphis, but that was enough for me. He had 20 points scoring from everywhere, and he set the table with sweet dimes while also getting rebounds and steals. The 6-2 combo guard who signed with Arkansas State had quite a performance in Memphis.

Tyree Appleby: Only saw him at the Metro Classic, but when you score 32 points including 8 triples (ALL in the 2nd half) to earn game MVP, what else is there to see? Tyree plays bigger than he looks, and his big smile is tailor-made for an entertaining event like an all-star game.

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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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