Jonas Helps Hogs Say “Adieu” to Kinds of Bigs Who Have Defined Program Since Mid-90s

Jonas Aidoo, Arkansas basketball, Tennessee basketball, transfer portal
photo credit: Tennessee Athletics

The previous Arkansas basketball additions shouldn’t be discounted, but John Calipari has landed his first commitment who wasn’t already pledged to him at Kentucky — and it’s a big one, literally and figuratively: Jonas Aidoo.

A 6-foot-11, 240-pound forward who spent the last three years at Tennessee, Aidoo is coming off an All-SEC campaign that made him a consensus top-15 prospect in the transfer portal. He’s the fifth scholarship player on the Razorbacks’ 2024-25 roster.

Aidoo joins fellow big man and portal addition Zvonimir Ivisic, who played his freshman year with the Wildcats, as well as a trio of five-star freshmen who were once committed to/signed with Kentucky — Karter Knox, Boogie Fland and Billy Richmond III.

He is ranked as high as the No. 8 overall player in this transfer cycle by On3, plus checks in at No. 10 and No. 14 on ESPN and 247Sports, respectively.

The Razorbacks now have eight remaining scholarships to fill for next season.

Jonas Aidoo at Tennessee

Despite being a five-star recruit and the No. 25 overall player in the Class of 2021, and ranked no lower than 52nd by any of the major recruiting services, Jonas Aidoo didn’t break out until this past season.

As a freshman in 2021-22, the Durham, N.C., product appeared in only 19 games and never started while averaging just 7.8 minutes. Despite the lack of playing time, he was still productive when on the floor, putting up 2.1 points, 2.2 rebounds and 0.5 blocks per game. That equates to a solid 10.8 points, 11.4 rebounds and 2.7 blocks per 40 minutes.

Aidoo cracked the Volunteers’ rotation the following year, even starting nine games, and saw his averages increase to 5.1 points, 4.9 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in 18.3 minutes.

This past season as a full-time starter, he played for a team that won the SEC, earned a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament and reached the Elite Eight.

Not only did the Durham, NC native average 11.4 points on 51.5% shooting from the field, but Aidoo also became a feared defender who grabbed 7.3 rebounds and blocked 1.8 shots in 24.8 minutes per game. That earned him one of five spots on the SEC All-Defensive Team, plus he landed on the All-SEC second team.

One of his best games of the season came at Bud Walton Arena. He posted a double-double with 23 points on 11 of 14 shooting and 12 rebounds. Aidoo was also solid against John Calipari and Kentucky this season, averaging 11 points, 9.5 rebounds and 4 blocks in two games.

He explains more about taking the leap in Year 3 here:

YouTube video

What it Means for Arkansas Basketball

On top of being a big-time addition and getting John Calipari one step closer to building the 2024-25 Arkansas basketball roster from scratch, Jonas Aidoo also gives the Razorbacks something they haven’t had very often in their history — two players listed at 6-foot-11 or taller.

Aidoo is 6-foot-11, while Kentucky transfer Zvonimir Ivisic is 7-foot-2. With an assist from HogStats, Best of Arkansas Sports determined it’ll be just the fourth time in school history two players that tall will play together.

The last such combo was way back in the mid-1990s, when Darnell Robinson (6-11) and Lee Wilson (6-11) played together for three seasons. They were freshmen on the 1994 national title team, sophomores on the 1995 national runner-up team and juniors on the 1996 team that reached the Sweet 16 before Robinson declared for the draft.

Before that, Joe Kleine (6-11) and Andrew Lang (6-11) overlapped for one season in 1984-85 before each enjoyed long NBA careers and then Lang played alongside Minnesota transfer Mike Carpenter (7-2) in 1985-86 after he redshirted the year Kleine and Lang were teammates. (Kleine was also teammates with 7-foot-1 Shaheed Ali, but Ali never appeared in a game.)

In the nearly three decades since Robinson and Wilson, the Razorbacks have come close to having “Twin Towers” of that size — Steven Hill (7-0) and Darian Towns (6-10), Bobby Portis (6-11) and Moses Kinglsey (6-10) — but have never matched it.

In fact, in some years Arkansas hasn’t had even one true big man. Sure, players like Hill, Portis, Kingsley and Daniel Gafford were good during their time in Fayetteville, but the Razorbacks have also had a tendency to lean on undersized “big men.”

That was especially true during the Eric Musselman era with players like Adrio Bailey (6-6), Justin Smith (6-7), Kamani Johnson (6-7) and Chandler Lawson (6-8). He did have Jaylin Williams (6-10), and Makhi Mitchell was listed at 6-foot-10 last season after being listed at 6-foot-9 the year before that, but the other tall players at his disposal didn’t really play like true big men.

Even before Musselman helped revive the program, Arkansas had undersized big men like Derek Hood (6-8), Nick Davis (6-9), Dionisio Gomez (6-8), Charles Thomas (6-8), Michael Sanchez (6-8) and Marshawn Powell (6-7) playing large roles.

It doesn’t seem like that will be a problem for the Razorbacks under Calipari, who just last season had a trio of 7-footers on his roster. Having big man guru Kenny Payne back on his staff should help, too, as he helped Kentucky produce a pair of No. 1 overall picks in Anthony Davis and Karl-Anthony Towns, as well as numerous other bigs who became lottery picks.

Arkansas is also in play for Oklahoma State transfer Brandon Garrison, a former McDonald’s All-American who has also visited Fayetteville and is officially listed with some controversy at 6-11.

There’s a chance that Aidoo and Ivisic will team up alongside Garrison. Check out our breakdown from the weekend for more on how that three-headed monster could work.

Baylor Whiffs on Jonas Aidoo

Aidoo’s fadeaway on the recruiting front from Baylor basketball had Cam Stuart of “Locked on Baylor” just about pulling his hair out.

John Calipari has made our life a living hell in the last month,” the podcast host laments in an emergency episode.

“He leaves Kentucky and all the sudden it’s sweating it out for a whole week. We were prepared for the worst.”

While Kentucky didn’t end hiring Scott Drew, new Wildcats coach Mark Pope did hire Alvin Brooks from Baylor as an associate head coach.

“And now, John Calipari from beyond the grave, takes your biggest transfer target.”

More woe-is-we here:

YouTube video

See our latest here:

Check out some highlights of recent Arkansas basketball commit Jonas Aidoo:

YouTube video


More coverage of Arkansas basketball from BoAS…

Facebook Comments