Before the arrival of head coach Eric Musselman, Arkansas basketball had long been thought of by fans and opponents alike as a sleeping giant–a basketball school in football clothing that was waiting for the right opportunity to burst back onto the national scene.
Mike Anderson had some seasons where the team danced along the outskirts of relevance but never quite got the program back to national prominence. However, a powerhouse was still waiting to erupt inside The Basketball Palace of Mid-America.
Arkansas basketball is done hibernating. The sleeping giant is up and moving around.
If back-to-back final-eight appearances weren’t enough for you, Musselman has a new trick up his sleeve to show you that Arkansas basketball is back at an elite level. On October 5th, Musselman and his staff opened up the facility to host a Pro Day practice for professional scouts.
The Arkansas basketball Pro Day on October 5th was just another sign that Musselman is building something powerful in Fayetteville.
Arkansas basketball hosted 40 total scouts from 29 NBA teams in Fayetteville as part of the event to showcase their loaded roster. It is a roster highlighted by the number two recruiting class in the country, including three five-star players in Anthony Black, Nick Smith, and Jordan Walsh.
All three names are projected NBA draft picks next season, depending on which source you use. Those are far from the only three players that have pro scouts interested, though.
While Pro Days happen throughout the college basketball ranks, few match the magnitude of what Musselman and his staff put together for his squad. A pro day of this magnitude is what John Calipari has been famous for doing at Kentucky.
It’s an event that says to NBA front offices, “Seeing our guys practice against each other is more valuable than seeing them play other teams. That’s how loaded our roster is.” It was an event that got Arkansas basketball mentioned on national NBA Podcasts like “The Hoop Collective.” Smith was referenced in a recent episode of “The Lowe Post.”
It’s a status symbol. It’s a plateau that even Nolan Richardson’s most successful teams never reached. Arkansas basketball is becoming a direct pipeline to the pro game.
And truthfully, it’s a status symbol that puts Arkansas Basketball back in the same conversation with Kentucky. Which, to hear most fans tell it, is exactly where they should have been all along.