Arkansas Basketball: Why Nick Smith, Jr. signing with the Hogs is a big deal

Eric Musselman, Arkansas Basketball (Sam Owens/Indy Star/IndyStar via USA TODAY Sports)
Eric Musselman, Arkansas Basketball (Sam Owens/Indy Star/IndyStar via USA TODAY Sports) /

Arkansas basketball got a huge verbal commitment from home-grown talent Nick Smith, Jr. when he announced his intention to join the Razorbacks in 2022

Nick Smith, a five-star prospect currently ranked No. 6 overall in ESPN’s class of 2022, announced his decision to commit to Arkansas basketball.

This is one of the biggest Razorback basketball commitments in years. In fact, it will be the first five-star commitment for Arkansas since 2013 when Bobby Portis decided to stay home and play for the Hogs.

Portis was eventually drafted in the NBA and won an NBA Championship in 2021 with the Milwaukee Bucks. Smith is hoping to lean on Head Coach Eric Musselman’s NBA background and connections.

Like Portis, Smith is a native of the central Arkansas area. Simmons, who stands 6’4″ and 180lbs, is currently enrolled at North Little Rock High School. This past summer with the Brad Beal Elite team, Smith averaged 17.6 points, 3.5 rebounds and 3.0 assists in 15 games.

Nick Smith, Jr. chose Arkansas basketball because of Musselman’s NBA background

In an interview with ESPN, Smith said he was willing to pick whichever school would best fit his talents– regardless of being a Power Five school or something smaller.

“Arkansas’ system was the best fit for me. They get up and down. They defend, too. Coach Muss has an NBA background,” he said detailing some of the reasons for choosing the Razorbacks.
“The ball will be in my hands, and I will play off the ball, too. My role will be to play a combination guard, to score and be a playmaker,” he said.

Smith’s commitment puts an exclamation on Musselman’s 2022 recruiting class, which now features four players ranked in ESPN’s Top 100 prospects: Derrian Ford, Barry Dunning, and Joseph Pinion.

Arkansas has just started practicing in preparation for the 2021-22 season, but it’s not to early to start daydreaming about the 2022-23 season when the Hogs will feature a roster with NCAA Championship-level talent.

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