Hoop Hogs sign all 6 commits on 1st Day of Early Signing Period


Arkansas Razorbacks head coach Mike Anderson not only got a head start on a hefty Christmas wish list, but he’s already got everything wrapped and under the tree for Hog fans in early November! All six of his Class of 2018 commitments — a group that began with a pledge in early August 2016 and ended with the final piece less than two weeks ago — signed their national letters of intent to become Razorbacks today, the first day of the NCAA’s early signing period.

It’s an unprecedented early signing class for Arkansas as roughly half the roster that is graduating after the 2017-18 season will be replaced by what is currently ranked as the No. 11 recruiting class nationally by 247Sports.com.

Let’s take a look at this class and what it means for the Razorbacks when these six players take the floor as Hogs a year from now in 2018-19.

It starts with the three in-state Arkansas Hawks, who each committed to Arkansas over a year ago.

Isaiah Joe, 6-4 shooting guard, Fort Smith Northside and Arkansas Hawks (Adidas), national No. 94 / 4-Isaiah Joestar prospect in c/o 2018 according to 247Sports.com and a 4-star prospect according to Rivals.com, @ARHoopScoop 1st-team All State in 2016-17 and @ARHoopScoop 2017 Grassroots Player of the Year … Joe, who was the first player to commit to Arkansas in the first week of August 2016, signed his letter of intent at Northside’s gym today around 3 p.m. … Joe chose the Hogs early over offers from Alabama and Little Rock.

“It means a lot to me,” Joe said of signing with Arkansas in front of friends and family after being committed to the Hogs for roughly 15 months. “It just means the beginning of a new chapter now, putting in more work to get better, and getting ready to be up on the Hill.

“It’s really exciting to know that everybody’s behind me, they all support it. Everybody was calling the Hogs, it made me feel real good. It made me feel like I made the right decision.”

Scouting reportArguably the best shooter in the country in his class — he was Top 5 in multiple shooting/scoring advanced-stats metrics after spring/summer grassroots play on the Adidas circuit — Isaiah “Zai” Joe has legitimate, efficient range out to NBA 3-point distance. He averaged 15.0 points per game for the Hawks after helping guide his Northside Grizzlies to the 7A state title last March. A candidate for top player in Arkansas as a senior, Joe is so much more than a shooter. He’s a very good all-around player, including one of the best backcourt defenders in the state due to his length and underrated athleticism. He’s a smart, skilled, unselfish baller who plays the game the right way. He’s adding point guard duties this year at Northside as the Grizzlies look to repeat as 7A state champs. 

Projecting him with the Hogs: Candidate for early playing time because of his shooting prowess that can beat and change defenses in a hurry. Joe is already wiry strong, but once he gets into Arkansas’s conditioning program and adds more weight/strength, it’s going to be hard to keep him off the floor. His shooting ability changes the game because defenses have to account for him all the way out to 25 feet, and any lapse or cushion can be costly as Joe has the feel and confidence to take advantage. His skill using the bounce to get into the mid-range is nice, and added weight/strength will help him in these scenarios going up against bigger, stronger college guards compared to what he’s used to now in high school. Has plus court-awareness and understanding of spacing and movement, so he’ll fit nicely in the motion offense that Arkansas runs. Unselfish. Doesn’t force shots, does a solid job of moving the ball to set up others. Defensively, Joe moves his feet well, knows how to use his length and quickness to crash passing lanes and cut off drives, anticipates well. Coachable and dependable, excellent  teammate. Great fit with the Fastest 40 style of basketball.


ethan hendersonEthan Henderson, 6-8 power forward, Little Rock Parkview and Arkansas Hawks (Adidas), national No. 88 / 4-star prospect in c/o 2018 according to ESPN and a national Top 100 / 4-star prospect according to 247Sports.com, @ARHoopScoop 1st-team All State in 2016-17 and @ARHoopScoop 2017 All Grassroots 1st Team … Henderson, who became the Hogs’ third commit on Labor Day weekend in 2016, signed his letter of intent at Parkview’s gym today around 3 p.m. … Henderson chose the Hogs over offers from Notre Dame, LSU, Texas, Indiana, Arizona State, and others.

“It’s mind-blowing,” Henderson said of finally becoming a Hog officially. “It’s like a dream come true … it’s the next step in life. I’m just ready to go do my thing.”

Scouting report: Henderson’s physical and athletic gifts (height, length, and elite bounce), defensive versatility, double-double capabilities, and showing up against the best when it matters most are undeniable. Improved mid-range and post-up game, but still a work in progress. Big-time dunker off lob passes and in transition. Potential to be a volume rebounder. When locked in and with motor fully running, Henderson can be a matchup problem. He’s just scratched the surface of his potential.

Projecting him with the Hogs: Henderson has the foot quickness, agility, athleticism, and length to defend all over the court, which should be a huge plus in the Hogs’ system that employs scramble-mode full-court presses and trapping defensive schemes, as well as half-court sets that rely on switching on ball-screens out on the floor. Henderson’s frame is similar to current Hog freshman Dan Gafford’s in that he will be able to add muscle/weight/strength without compromising quickness, agility, or athleticism. Mid-range shooting is still a work in progress, as is his low-post positioning, but Henderson has added some nice pump-fake, up-and-under moves around the basket that will allow him to be effective scoring at the rim in college. Will be able to help the Hogs at the 4 and the 5, initially providing depth behind Gafford.


Desi Sills, 6-2 combo guard, Jonesboro and Arkansas Hawks (Adidas), national 3-star propsect,desi sills @ARHoopScoop 1st-team All State in 2016-17 … Sills, who was the Hogs’ second commit in mid-August 2016, signed his letter of intent at Jonesboro’s gym today around 1:45 p.m. … Sills chose the Hogs over offers from Missouri, SMU, Little Rock, and others.

Scouting report: Sills is arguably the top on-ball defender in Arkansas, a lock-down type with a “dog” mentality at both ends of the floor. Plays bigger than he is, which means he often drives and challenges guards that have actual size advantages over him. Slashing to the basket is his strength offensively, but he’s improved his 3-point and mid-range shooting. Can play on and off the ball as a combo guard. Defensively, he has no problem getting physical and using quickness, strength, and tenacity to create havoc and force turnovers.

Projecting him with the Hogs: Sills is reminiscent of so many tough-minded guards that have come through the 40 Minutes of Hell / Fastest 40 system in the past. He’s the kind of player who’s going to get after you every minute he’s on the court, and that is invaluable in a system that feeds off of relentless energy and effort.  He’s going to contribute early because he can provide that spark defensively that Arkansas teams use to put together runs while wearing opponents down.


With half the class in the bag for over a year, Anderson and staff went out of state to fill needs with a trio of quality hoopers who all committed to Arkansas in the past couple of months.

Keyshawn Embery, 6-3 combo guard, IMG Academy (FL) by way of Midwest City HS in Oklahoma and OK Run PWP (Under Armour Association), national Top 100 / 4-star prospect according to both Scout.com and Rivals.com …Embery, who was the Hogs’ fourth commitment when he pledged in mid-September, signed his letter of intent at IMG Academy a little after 10 a.m. ET … Embery chose Arkansas over offers from West Virginia, Butler, Texas A&M, Oklahoma State, Arizona State, Purdue, and many others.

“Feels great!!!” Embery said of offcially becoming a Razorback.

Scouting report: Embery’s a textbook combo guard = more of a shooting guard who can go get you buckets, but has the ability to help at point guard and make plays for others … Embery — who scored 50 points in a high school game last season — is a crafty and fearless slasher/finisher who does not mind contact once he gets into the paint … he’s got a strong 3-point game, both catch-and-shoot and off the bounce (one-dribble step-back, crossover, and going left or right) … he’s got counter moves at all 3 levels, a reflection of his high basketball IQ, skill, and determination … he does a good job of mixing in drop-offs and kickouts as a facilitator for others, enough to keep defenders off balance and guessing while he picks and chooses … improved defender with quickness … tenacious competitor, which translates to having plenty of “dog” in his game.

Projecting him at Arkansas: Embery’s a great fit in Mike Anderson’s system, and he’ll be an asset out of the gates. His slashing game is reminiscent of current Hog combo guard Jaylen Barford, and his perimeter set-up game reveals versatile complexity similar to current Hog combo guard Daryl Macon. Arkansas needed to get bigger and stronger at the shooting guard and wing positions — and you can see it has in what has been brought in with the 2017 and 2018 recruiting classes — but the Hogs still need those scrappy, skilled, quick, tough, dog-mentality 6-3-and-under guards, too. Embery fits that bill at both ends of the floor, and it lines up great with the kind of player Anderson covets. Embery will play his senior season at basketball prep IMG Academy as he works to improve all aspects of his game before college. 


jordan phillipsJordan Phillips, 6-6 wing, Grace Prep Academy in Arlington, TX, and Dallas Showtyme Ballers Elite, national Top 175 / 3-star prospect … Phillips, who was the Hogs’ fifth commitment when he pledged in early October, signed his letter of intent today between 11 a.m. and noon CT … Phillips chose Arkansas over offers from Virginia Tech, Georgetown, Arizona State, TCU, SMU, Fresno State, and others.

“I’m just really happy about the opportunity,” Phillips said. “It’s a blessing that I’ve dreamed about since I was a little kid.”

Scouting report: Phillips is a versatile wing who can help as a small forward, shooting guard, and even as a ball-handler up the floor in pinch-relief of the point guards. At 6-6 and 215 pounds, he brings a combination of athleticism, size/physicality, and perimeter skill that proves valuable in various match-up scenarios.  As a halfcourt slasher, he has the handles to drive from the top of the key (or wing) all the way to the basket, plus the athleticism and strong frame to finish through contact once he arrives in the land of the bigs. Using those same gifts, he’s formidable in transition because he can overwhelm and finish through or above smaller guards. Throw in capable mid-range and 3-point shooting, and Phillips flashes offensive ability at all three levels.

That same combo of athleticism and size/physicality will help defensively, too, especially with challenging and closing out on shooters, walling off drives, trapping, and playing at the top of the press.

Projecting him at Arkansas: There has been a shift in Arkansas’s recent perimeter recruiting as Mike Anderson has brought in several big wings, and Phillips is the latest addition joining the likes of CJ Jones, Darious Hall, and Khalil Garland. His size and skill will make him a versatile perimeter option and matchup problem, and will help give Anderson flexibility when choosing to go small or big with his lineups.


Reggie Chaney, 6-8 power forward, Findlay Prep by way of Frisco, TX and RM5 Elite (Nike EYBL),reggie chaney commits national No. 90 / 4-star prospect according to 247Sports.com and a 4-star prospect according to ESPN … Chaney, wo was the Hogs’ sixth and final commitment when he plesged in late October, signed his letter of intent today … Chaney chose Arkansas over offers from Texas A&M, TCU, Wichita State, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, Ole Miss, Memphis, VCU, and others.

Scouting report: Chaney, who’s built like a defensive end, not only has good bounce, but he’s quick and nimble with good handles for a solidly built power forward — a combo that allows him to blow by other forwards before exploding to the basket. His highlights reveal a blue-collar finisher and rebounder — he’s got solid interior offensive skill — but one national scout/analyst told me Chaney has improved and expanded his mid-range game, something defenders will have to account for which should allow him to pick and choose when to drive or pull-up. Defensively, he’s strong and holds his ground against taller match-ups inside, and his quickness allows him to poach steals out on the floor and away from the basket.

Projecting him at Arkansas: Chaney’s talent, size, and athleticism seem perfect for for the Fastest 40, and he’ll play a key role early. Just projecting the Hogs’ roster personnel for the 2018-19 season, Chaney becomes a much-needed fifth frontline piece on a squad that will feature as many as eight guards/wings (and possibly nine if 2019 Hog commit Justice Hill re-classes to 2018). Maybe more importantly, when looking at the other four frontliners who are expected to be on that ’18-19 team — they mostly seem defensively geared with their offense likely to come from running the floor, hustle plays/putbacks, lobs, and as a result of the creativity of others — a forward like Chaney would be a complement to the strengths of the other bigs, if he can create some offense inside and out.

Mike Anderson early signing period

Tags: ,