All-ACC Center Among Best Fits for Arkansas from Remaining Transfer Portal Prospects

Eric Musselman, Jesse Edwards, Arkansas basketball, transfer portal
photo credit: Arkansas Athletics / Syracuse Athletics

Arkansas basketball coach Eric Musselman has earned plenty of respect around the country for his ability to recruit instant contributors out of the transfer portal.

Over his first three seasons with the Razorbacks, he brought in Jimmy Whitt, Jalen Tate, Justin Smith, Au’Diese Toney, Stanley Umude and others.

Though the attention heading into the 2022-23 season was primarily focused on the six incoming freshmen headlined by a trio of McDonald’s All-Americans, Musselman once again showed off his ability to bring in impact transfers from the portal with Ricky Council IV, Trevon Brazile, Jalen Graham and the Mitchell twins, Makhi and Makhel.

Now, with potentially the most returning players he’s ever had at Arkansas pending the final decisions of three players, Musselman has once again looked to the portal to retool and reload.

Arkansas Basketball Transfer Portal Additions

He’s already landed three coveted transfers in Keyon Menifield Jr., Tramon Mark and, on Wednesday, Khalif Battle. Then, on Thursday, he added yet another incoming transfer in Jeremiah Harper.

Menifield is an electric scoring guard who had an up-and-down, yet promising, season at Washington as a true freshman. His instant offense and year of experience should be a welcome sight for an Arkansas team that struggled to both score and take care of the ball at times last season.

At 6-foot-5, Mark is a defensive-minded guard who still averaged double-digit scoring for a Houston team that spent the entire 2022-23 season ranked in the top five. He scored 26 points against Auburn in the 2023 NCAA Tournament and was a member of the 2021 Houston squad who challenged eventual-champion Baylor in the Final Four.

Khalif Battle, who also also clocks in at 6-foot-5, averaged 17.8 points per game over his last three seasons at Temple, including 21.4 points on 49% 3-point shooting in 2021-22. He could be the perfect candidate to step into a lead scoring role similar to that of Stanley Umude late in the 2021-22 season, when he averaged 14.3 points over his last 17 games.

Arkansas also lacked veteran leadership in the backcourt for much of the season, partially due to primarily being led by true freshman guards along with injuries to a few key players. Battle, with four years of college experience, should slot in as a perfect offensive counterpart to Tramon Mark – a more defensive-minded guard who has three years of experience himself.

Arkansas Basketball Scholarship Situation

As it stands, Arkansas is one over its limit of 13 scholarships. That includes Davonte Davis, who is testing NBA Draft waters after his terrific performance in the first two rounds of the 2023 NCAA Tournament – though he’s still maintaining his college eligibility for now – as well as Jordan Walsh.

Black, a projected lottery pick, declared he’s entering the NBA Draft on Wednesday. Walsh is a wild card, as he has a lot to weigh in his potential decision. Still, all it takes is a few teams to show interest in taking him in the later parts of the first round and his mind could be made up. It’s unlikely that Arkansas gets back both players for next year.

The transfer portal is in a constant state of give and take this time of year, especially for a team run by Eric Musselman, who in many ways is as sure a bet to land a stellar class of transfers each year as the football Georgia Bulldogs are to appear highly favored in their opening 2023 game according to NCAAF odds.

It’s worth paying attention to which transfer portal prospects are still on the market appear to be viable options for the Hogs to fill out any remaining spots that might come available.

Below are the best of the best among those I feel Arkansas has a legit chance to land.

 (NOTE: There are some big names from the college basketball transfer portal not mentioned. Hunter Dickinson, for instance, isn’t listed because I don’t feel Arkansas has a legit shot at landing him anymore.)

Top Available Transfers for Arkansas

Jamir Watkins — VCU

6-foot-7 | Forward | 9.5 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 1.2 SPG, 34% 3PT, 41% FG

The return of Trevon Brazile and Jalen Graham (and potentially Makhi Mitchell) create a great foundation to the frontcourt next season, but Baye Fall is looking more like a project player than an immediate impact guy as a true freshman. Jamir Watkins could slot in as the perfect glue guy at either forward position. He could feasibly play a role similar to what Trey Wade did in the 2021-22 season — a slightly undersized forward who can stretch the court and fight for rebounds.

Watkins’ raw stats don’t jump off the page, but it’s worth noting he missed the entire 2021-22 season with an ACL tear, and he would likely be aware of the role he would be expected to play. It’s also worth noting that Watkins and Battle played together in high school, so perhaps one committing to Arkansas might sway the other.

Jesse Edwards — Syracuse

6-foot-11 | Forward/Center | 14.5 PPG, 10.3 RPG, 2.7 BPG, 59% FG

While the Hogs are potentially returning three key players from their frontcourt last season (pending Makhi Mitchell’s decision), they are losing quite a bit of combined production from Kamani Johnson and Makhel Mitchell. Neither were staples in the rotation, but both provided a higher level of physicality than the other bigs on the roster.

Enter Jesse Edwards. At 6-foot-11 and 230 pounds, the All-ACC center averaged 2.7 blocks per game last season and 2.8 the year before. With four years of experience under his belt, Edwards could be the perfect final piece to the puzzle for Arkansas as a true rim protector to play alongside the offensive prowess of other forwards like Brazile and Graham.

BJ Mack — Wofford

6-foot-8 | Forward | 16.6 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 1.4 APG, 34% 3PT, 81% FT

Speaking of physicality, BJ Mack would easily be the most physical force on the court for the Hogs next season if he were to choose them. Standing at 6-foot-8 and 250 pounds, he’s nearly the same height as Makhi Mitchell, but outweighs him by roughly 20 pounds.

Mack isn’t a notable shot blocker (0.4 BPG last season), so the Hogs would likely have to run either Brazile or Mitchell alongside Mack to gain some semblance of rim protection, but the transfer forward did shoot 34% from long range on 4.8 attempts per game this season and 45% on 2.7 attempts per game in 2021-22. He’s also a legit back-to-basket threat, which is something Arkansas had in short supply last season outside of a few spurts from Jalen Graham and the Mitchell twins. Mack would be a solid option to finalize the frontcourt rotation with his unique combination of physicality, footwork and floor-stretching ability. 

YouTube video

Daniel Batcho — Texas Tech

6-foot-11 | Forward | 7.9 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 1.5 BPG, 61% FG

Daniel Batcho would be slightly more of a project player than some of the other forwards listed here, but with the likely return of three forwards from last year’s roster and additional potential contribution from Baye Fall, that may not be the worst idea for the Hogs.

Batcho has spent only two years at Texas Tech after redshirting at Arizona his first year of college, giving him two more years of eligibility. With his 6-foot-11 frame, he could become a legit rim-protecting asset alongside the other bigs on the roster. He only shot five 3-pointers last season, but did make three of them and has a rim-running ability that gives off Mason Plumlee vibes as the below highlights show. His roughly eight points and six rebounds came in less than 25 minutes per game. His per-40-minutes average last season is 12.9 points, 9.7 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks.

YouTube video


More coverage of Arkansas basketball from BoAS…

Facebook Comments