As if making it to the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament the last three years wasn’t enough, proof of Arkansas basketball’s resurgence under Eric Musselman can be found in the NBA.
Including players on two-way contracts, there are officially 11 former Razorbacks on NBA rosters as the 2023-24 gets underway. That is tied for the fifth-most of any school and ranks second among SEC teams.
Kentucky leads the conference and all of Division I with 26 former players in the NBA, followed by Duke (24), UCLA (15) and Kansas (12). Arkansas is tied with Gonzaga, Michigan and Texas if looking at official former players only, but if the count is expanded to include unofficial “alumni,” then Arkansas can temporarily claim 12 players.
That’s because back in the summer Jaylin Williams won a friendly wager with his Thunder teammate Jalen Williams (a Santa Clara alum) that one side would have to wear the jersey of the other’s alma mater depending on who won the Arkansas-Santa Clara matchup in the 2023 Fayetteville Regional.
Well, Arkansas won that game, which led to this happening today:
That’s one unhappy-looking “Razorback,” but that’ll still do for the purposes of fleeting bragging rights.
Of more lasting importance is how this current crop of NBA Hogs are on the cusp of breaking an all-time school record set near the height of the Nolan Richardson era.
If all 11 official former Arkansas basketball players appear in a game this season — three have yet to do so — it would be the most ever in the NBA in a single season.
That record was set in 1992-93, when 10 played in the league. That number includes Byron Irvin, who transferred and finished his career at Missouri. The others are names most Arkansas fans will recognize: Todd Day, Scott Hastings, Joe Kleine, Andrew Lang, Lee Mayberry, Oliver Miller, Isaiah Morris, Alvin Robertson and Darrell Walker.
Here’s a look at how the current crop of former Arkansas basketball players in the NBA are performing through the first week or so of the 2023-24 season…
Former Arkansas Basketball Players in the NBA
Patrick Beverley — Philadelphia 76ers
2023-24 Stats: 3 G/0 GS, 17.0 min., 2.7 pts. (66.7% FG), 3.0 reb., 2.0 ast., 1.0 blk.
Now 35 years old, Patrick Beverley is in his 12th NBA season and playing for his sixth different franchise after signing a one-year, $2 million deal with Philadelphia this summer.
A three-time NBA All-Defensive Team selection, he is a backup point guard behind Tyrese Maxey for the 76ers. Through the first three games of the season, Beverley is averaging 17.0 minutes. Despite his non-starter role, Philadelphia Phillies star Bryce Harper wore a Patrick Beverley jersey to the stadium before Game 7 of the NLCS.
Anthony Black — Orlando Magic
2023-24 Stats: 1 G/0 GS, 5.0 min., 5.0 pts. (100% FG, 100% FT), 1 ast., 2 blk.
Tied for the second-highest drafted Arkansas basketball player of all-time, Anthony Black was taken sixth overall by the Magic, but he is part of a crowded backcourt in Orlando and hasn’t played much as a result.
His debut came in the Magic’s season-opening blowout win over the Rockets. In just five minutes, Black scored 5 points — hitting both of his shots and making a free throw — and blocked two shots while dishing one assist. It was an and-1 floater that gave him his first career points.
That has followed what was a less-than-spectacular preseason in which he averaged just 3.5 points, 3.0 rebounds and 1.8 assists in 17.8 minutes across four games. He missed all six of his 3-point attempts and had nearly as many turnovers (6) as assists (7).
Despite those struggles and the lack of early playing time, it appears Black is still putting in the work to hopefully carve out a larger role as his rookie year progresses.
Ricky Council IV — Philadelphia 76ers
2023-24 Stats: DNP
One of the first undrafted free agents off the board this summer, Ricky Council IV signed a two-way deal with the 76ers. After a solid Summer League showing in which he put up 10.0 points and 4.0 rebounds across eight games, he appeared in three of Philadelphia’s four preseason games and averaged 3.3 points and 1.7 rebounds in 8.3 minutes.
He was actually cut by the 76ers on Oct. 21, only to re-sign with the team four days later on another two-way deal. It’s likely he’ll spend much of the season in the G League, playing for the defending G League champion Delaware Blue Coats.
Daniel Gafford — Washington Wizards
2023-24 Stats: 2 G/2 GS, 24.5 min., 8.0 pts. (83.3% FG, 60.0% FT), 8.0 reb., 2.0 blk.
After starting 100 games for the Wizards over the previous two seasons, Daniel Gafford entered the 2023-24 season fully entrenched in their lineup. He started each of their first two games and actually posted a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds against the Grizzlies on Saturday.
Most of that production actually came after he suffered an ankle injury that forced him to briefly leave the game in the first half. Despite returning after halftime and putting up good numbers, he didn’t play in Washington’s game Monday.
Isaiah Joe — Oklahoma City Thunder
2023-24 Stats: 4 G/0 GS, 20.0 min., 8.3 pts. (35.5% FG, 36.4% 3PT, 60.0% FT), 2.5 reb., 1.3 ast., 1.3 stl.
Entering the critical fourth season of his NBA career, Isaiah Joe is coming off a breakout season in which he knocked down 40.9% of his 3-point attempts and averaged 9.5 points. He’s set to make about $2 million this year and almost $2.2 million if the Thunder pick up the team option next year, but another strong season in 2023-24 could lead to a huge payday.
It’s still a very small sample size, but he’s had an up-and-down year so far. He opened the season by going 3 of 6 from deep against the Bulls and just had a 3-of-5 performance against the Pistons on Monday. In between those games, though, Joe went a combined 2 of 11.
Moses Moody — Golden State Warriors
2023-24 Stats: 4 G/1 GS, 19.3 min., 9.8 pts. (56.0% FG, 41.2% 3PT, 80.0% FT), 3.0 reb., 1.5 ast., 1.5 stl.
It is shaping up to be a big year for Moses Moody. Now in his third season, he put up 13.2 points per game and shot a whopping 54.5% from deep in the preseason and continued that hot shooting into the regular season.
Even though he’s cooled off some after making 4 of 7 attempts from 3-point range in Golden State’s first two games, Moody is still shooting 41.2% from beyond the arc through four games. That includes a 2-of-5 performance on Monday in his first start of the year, when he had 13 points, 3 rebounds and 4 assists in 21 minutes.
Despite his playing time only increasing from 13.0 to 19.3 minutes, Moody’s scoring has more than doubled from 4.8 to 9.8 points per game — albeit in a small sample size.
On Tuesday, the Warriors announced they had exercised the fourth-year option on Moody. He’ll make $5.8 million next year after averaging about $3.7 million over his first three seasons, which includes this year.
Nick Smith Jr. — Charlotte Hornets
2023-24 Stats: 1 G/1 GS, 1.0 min., 0 pts., 0 reb.
Once considered a potential top-5 pick, Nick Smith Jr. slid all the way to No. 27 overall after an inconsistent, injury-plagued freshman year at Arkansas.
He played in all four of the Hornets’ preseason games and averaged 7.8 points in 14.4 minutes, but has appeared in only one regular-season game so far. That was the season opener and Smith didn’t record a single statistic during the 43 seconds he was on the floor.
Stanley Umude — Detroit Pistons
2023-24 Stats: 2 G/0 GS, 1.5 min., 0 pts., 0.5 stl.
Stanley Umude spent most of last season in the G League, where he averaged 15.4 points and 5.2 rebounds in 27.5 minutes, but did get a cup of coffee in the NBA by signing a 10-day contract with the Pistons in February. However, he appeared in only one game.
Detroit kept him around and, following a solid preseason in which he averaged 9.3 points and shot 43.8% from beyond the arc, signed him to a two-way contract for this season. Umude didn’t play in the Pistons’ first two games, but has appeared in the last two for a total of 2.5 minutes and even notched a steal against the Thunder on Monday.
Jordan Walsh — Boston Celtics
2023-24 Stats: DNP
A second-round pick after spending just one year with the Arkansas basketball program, Jordan Walsh showed some nice flashes during the Summer League, but then averaged only 13.5 minutes in three preseason games with the Celtics — in which he averaged 2.3 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.0 steals.
He appears to be near the bottom of Boston’s depth chart and has yet to play in a regular-season game. That’s not particularly surprising, according to MassLive.com’s Brian Robb.
“Walsh could be a valuable member of this Celtics roster in time from a defensive standpoint but it’s hard to envision that happening during a rookie season where he barely got on the floor in the preseason,” Robb wrote.
Jaylin Williams — Oklahoma City Thunder
2023-24 Stats: DNP
Despite being a second-round pick, Jaylin Williams evolved into a starter for the Thunder as a rookie last season and was part of a handful of native Arkansans who excelled in the opening round of the NBA Playoffs. He’s expected to have a large role on this year’s team, but a hamstring injury suffered in practice earlier this month has sidelined to start the season.
That hasn’t kept some Oklahoma City fans from still supporting him, though. In fact, one fan got creative in an effort to support Jaylin Williams, Jalen Williams and Kenrich Williams:
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