What Calipari’s Surprise Late Addition Tells Us About the 2024-25 Arkansas Basketball Roster

Casmir Chavis, Arkansas basketball
photo credit: Fresh Coast Hoops mixtape

John Calipari has made a surprising late addition to his inaugural Arkansas basketball roster, landing a commitment from Casmir Chavis.

The 6-foot-3 point guard from Minneapolis revealed his decision to On3’s Joe Tipton on Wednesday, becoming the 14th known member of the Razorbacks for the upcoming 2024-25 season.

Unlike the three most recent additions, which have been “walk-on” type players, Chavis appears to be a potential piece of Calipari’s rotation.

Now a consensus three-star recruit, he once owned a four-star rating and originally signed with Washington in November, picking the Huskies over offers from Arizona State, Georgia and West Virginia. On top of being a wide receiver on the Park Center High football team, he was a finalist for Minnesota’s Mr. Basketball award this year after averaging 23.5 points, 6.1 rebounds and 6.2 assists as a senior.

Chavis was released from his National Letter of Intent in April, about a month after Washington fired head coach Mike Hopkins. According to HawgBeat, he received interest from Oregon State, Mississippi State, Memphis, Clemson and others before eventually committing to Arkansas.

Ranked as high as No. 133 overall in the Class of 2024 by On3, Chavis is also considered the 19th-best point guard in the county by On3.

He gives the Razorbacks extra depth at the position, as he joins the talented trio of fellow incoming freshman Boogie Fland (On3’s top-ranked point guard), Kentucky transfer D.J. Wagner and Florida Atlantic transfer Johnell Davis.

Casmir Chavis Scouting Report

Listed at roughly 6-foot-3, Casmir Chavis – whose nickname is “Cash” – plays much bigger than his frame might suggest when he’s bullying his way into the paint and to the rim. He’s at his most dangerous in transition either off of forced turnovers – often ones he created himself – or long rebounds.

He’s got a respectable handle on the ball and elite quickness that allows him to outrun defenders once he gets half a step on them. His dribbling ability is good enough to get by certain defenders, though he may not have the same deep bag of tricks in one-on-one situations as someone like fellow Razorback freshman Boogie Fland.

Another impressive aspect of Chavis’ ball handling ability is how under control he appears to be at all times even when he’s navigating traffic in transitions faster than defenders can react to. Being able to keep a steady head in high pressure situations is an underrated quality in guards – especially young guards transitioning from high school to college.

While he’s better described as a score-first player, this ability to keep a level head allows him to find his teammates when multiple help defenders collapse on his drive attempts. Oftentimes he’s able to finish plays at the rim through multiple levels of contact, but he’s also a willing passer – especially when he can find a big man at the rim for a lob or dump-off pass.

Despite his listed height, Chavis is more than punishing the rim with authority, and he’s not afraid to meet defenders at the top of the ladder on his way to a highlight reel dunk. The clip below shows his willingness to get into the paint and his fearlessness once he gets there.

The Minnesota native doesn’t have the smoothest jumpshot, but he’s shown an acceptable ability to hit 3-pointers as a spot-up shooter. It’s not often that he pulls up for mid-range jump shots once he’s decided to attack his defender head on, but that could be more related to not necessarily needing to develop or utilize this particular skill at the high school level rather than a lack of ability.

This isn’t uncommon for an ultra-quick or athletic guard recruit, though – especially if they’re not playing against NBA-level recruits night in and night out.

Chavis’ combination of quickness, long arms, and a playmaker’s mentality makes him a pest on the defensive side of the ball. His highlight reels are full of forced turnovers – both as a primary point of attack defender and as a help-side defender sneaking up on an unsuspecting ball handler.

His ability to buy-in and be a solid defender at the next level will play a huge factor in whether or not he develops into a useful, high-major player in college. He’s got all the tools necessary, but transitioning from high school – and likely relatively lower-level high school competition – to the SEC can be a big jump for smaller guards on the defensive side of the ball.

What it Means for Arkansas Basketball

Just about the time things had settled down after the initial shock of his hire, John Calipari drew more national headlines when he revealed his unique plan for roster construction at Arkansas.

He openly talked about his desire to bring in only eight or nine players for his main rotation, but left the door open for more by saying a potential 10th player would know he’s the 10th player and understand his role.

When Trevon Brazile announced his return to Fayetteville, he became the ninth such player for the Razorbacks, so many assumed Calipari was done. That was seemingly confirmed when Arkansas started landing commitments from “walk-on” type players who’d fill out the rest of the available scholarships.

Although they haven’t been officially announced by the UA, Arkansas has added a couple more high school players in Jaden Karuletwa from Los Angeles and Ayden Kelley from Memphis, as well as a Division II transfer in Melo Sanchez from Hawaii Pacific University. Throw in returning walk-on and Fayetteville native Lawson Blake and the Razorbacks were at 13 total players.

The addition of Casmir Chavis means at least one of those last four players will be a traditional walk-on because there is a 13-man scholarship limit in men’s basketball.

A source told Best of Arkansas Sports that Blake has not been placed on scholarship, which indicates he’ll likely remain a walk-on this year as he recovers from a ruptured Achilles injury that could keep him sidelined the entire season.

That would get the Razorbacks down to 13 players on scholarship, but they might not be done. While we have been able to confirm Karuletwa and Sanchez being on scholarship, we have been unable to verify Kelley’s status.

If he is a true walk-on, then another domino could still fall for the 2024-25 Arkansas basketball roster. In that scenario, any new addition almost certainly won’t be a rotation player like Chavis or the first nine players, but rather another walk-on type.

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Brandon Baker contributed to this report.

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Check out some more highlights of Casmir Chavis here:

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