Arkansas basketball: Muss reveals a philosophical pivot helped him earn No. 2 recruiting class of 2022

Eric Musselman, Arkansas basketball (Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports)
Eric Musselman, Arkansas basketball (Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports) /
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Arkansas basketball
Moses Moody, Arkansas basketball (Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports) /

Arkansas basketball coach Eric Musselman describes how fluid a player’s status can be during a season

“For instance,” Musselman recalled, “Moses Moody. We knew he’d be a lottery-type talent. We didn’t know if it would be after year one or year two— he had a great year [and declared for the draft].”

“The year before that, Isaiah Joe had made an announcement that he was pulling out of the NBA Draft,” the coach said, giving the Arkansas basketball staff a sigh of relief that he’d likely be coming back to the team.

Because of Covid-19, new NBA and college rules were implemented that allowed that draft class to declare and/or withdraw for the draft much later than usual.

“At the last hour, [Joe] decided to go back into the NBA [Draft pool]. The transfer market that year was already dried up. So,you really gotta try to plan ahead, you gotta try to get the right transfers and try to build throughout the summer,” the third-year SEC coach said.

Before he got to Arkansas, Musselman was known as the transfer market Godfather. He and his staff at Nevada worked and obtain transfers because it was an untapped avenue for acquiring talent.

“At Nevada, through four years, we pretty much got the pick of who we wanted in the transfer market,” the coach said to Rome and his audience. “We were getting high-major guys: Kendall Stevens from Purdue, Cody and Caleb Martin (who are still in the NBA) from North Carolina State, Hallice Cook from Iowa State— we had a lot of high-major guys going to Nevada as transfers because we had very little competition.”

An examination of his time and effort to cultivate high schoolers versus established college basketball players gave him an epiphany.

“Quite frankly,” Musselman said as a matter-of-fact, “I thought it made a heck of a lot more sense to recruit somebody for two weeks instead of two years. What happens with the high school market, you have assistant coaches who are celebrating when you’re in the top seven [of a prospect’s list of schools]. Well, it really only matters if you get the guy and so from a time-resource standpoint, I though the transfer market made a ton of sense.”