The No. 2 recruiting class in the nation — arguably the Razorbacks’ best signing class ever — is mere weeks away from taking the court together for the first time in an official game. That doesn’t mean Arkansas basketball head coach Eric Musselman can relax on the recruiting trail, though.
Instead, Musselman is looking to build on the momentum of that historic group as he sets his sights on the upcoming recruiting classes. The Razorbacks have already landed a commitment from five-star point guard and Little Rock native Layden Blocker, plus built relationships with other top recruits in the 2023 class such as five-stars Ron Holland and Baye Fall.
Naturally, the focus isn’t solely on that group, as Musselman and his staff are also actively recruiting in future classes. Along with a few other 2024 recruits, newly minted five-star prospect Annor Boateng out of Little Rock Central has already received a scholarship offer from Arkansas basketball.
As a sophomore, Boateng averaged 6.9 points, 5.8 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 1.7 blocks and 1.8 steals at Little Rock Central. Now, as a junior, he holds offers from Arizona State, Arkansas, Auburn, Memphis, Mississippi State, Missouri, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M and others. The Razorbacks were the first major program to offer Boateng and that came in October 2020, just one day after he received his first offer from UAPB.
When asked by Phenom Hoops in May 2022 about which schools were strongly recruiting him, Boateng’s list was short: “Arkansas.” He went on to say that Musselman and company “have been talking to be about their incoming recruiting class and their work ethic and how they strive to be better every day.”
Conflicting Movement in Recruiting Rankings
Standing at 6-foot-5 and roughly 200 pounds, the Central High wing went from unranked in March 2022 to No. 54 in his class in July 2022, according to Rivals, after showing off his defensive versatility and hinting at potential significant growth on the offensive side of the court as a sophomore.
His drastic upward trajectory continued in the latest round of updates, which dropped Wednesday, as Boateng shot up to No. 13 and his aforementioned fifth star. His 41-spot increase was the second-largest jump among players already in the Rivals150, plus a handful went from unranked into to the top 50.
However, there seems to be some conflicting opinions of Boateng. When 247Sports updated its rankings last week, he actually dropped 18 spots to No. 54. He is still solidly in the four-star range on that service.
ESPN is a little higher higher on him, slotting him at No. 44, but On3 — which was/is lower than most on Nick Smith Jr. and Layden Blocker in 2022 and 2023, respectively — has an opinion more along the lines of Rivals. It still classifies Boateng as a four-star recruit, but has him at No. 12 overall. If Boateng were a senior, such a high ranking would translate to 5-star status. But On3 tends not to award 5 stars to younger high school players ranked below the top 10 in their classes, so Boateng will need to wait a while to make the 5-star cut with that service.
Annor Boateng Scouting Report
Being strong for his age, coupled with his height, Boateng seems to be built more like a tight end than a shooting guard, similar to former Arkansas and Little Rock Central player Alandise Harris.
Harris, now a professional dog breeder, was a 6-foot-6 forward who did most of his damage in the paint during his time at Arkansas, taking advantage of his 240-pound frame. His size gives Boateng a similar advantage when overpowering smaller defenders on drives — one of the premier parts of his game.
“I would say I’m an inside-out player, so I would make layups and mid-range [shots] before moving out to the three,” he told Patrick O’Brien of Phenom Hoops.
Though he prefers to make a living in the paint by using his size and strength to take advantage of smaller matchups, Boateng has continued to develop his outside shooting. Little Rock Central head coach Brian Ross says his star junior shot “a high volume of threes this year (2021-2022) and hit about 40% of them.”
At 6-foot-5, 200 pounds, Boateng’s exceptional wingspan has helped him become an elite defender at an early age. “He’s the best individual and team defensive player in the state,” Ross said.
Annor Boateng has good instincts on the defensive end that allow him to block shots and time steals better than most at his age, which is a big reason why he holds so many Division I offers despite averaging only 7 points as a sophomore.
He’s also generally disciplined in staying in front of his man and not gambling too much. The junior guard will have to continue to be careful with fouls and over-pursuing shot blocking opportunities as he faces bigger and smarter opponents at the next level.
Knock-down 3-point shooters who can defend at an elite level are exactly the type of player both college and NBA coaches are looking for to fill out their rosters — think Andrew Wiggins, Mikal Bridges, Robert Covington and even Moses Moody. All of these players are strong, athletic wings with plus wingspans who make a living working hard on the defensive end and knocking down open shots.
Boateng’s only weak point is as a facilitator, but he hasn’t necessarily needed to be one so far in his high school career and doesn’t project to be one at the next level. His ball handling is serviceable enough to find open shots, but when he puts the ball on the floor, he will typically either find himself at the rim or pulling up for a jump shot rather than looking for a pass.
Arkansas Recruit Player Comparison
Given his size and preference to play in the paint, Annor Boateng projects as more of an undersized small forward who is also capable of playing the shooting guard spot. The current 3-and-D wing that stands out as most similar to that role is Lugentz Dort of the Oklahoma City Thunder. While this may not be a household name in the NBA, Dort just signed a 5-year, $82.5 million contract with the Thunder for being the perfect high energy, 3-and-D glue guy.
Dort stands at only 6-foot-3, but spends most of his time at the small forward position because of his long wingspan and 215-pound frame. Despite his smaller size, Dort pulled down more that four rebounds per game last season to go along with 17.2 points per game.
He has also hit exactly 0.9 steals per game in each of his first three NBA seasons and is known as an excellent on-ball defender capable of guarding nearly any position other than center. The 23-year-old Canadian wing plays with a bubbly energy and high motor that is usually contagious for both his teammates and the crowd.
Another similarity between Boateng and Dort is their international background. The junior forward’s parents are both from Ghana, though he was born and raised in Ohio until he was eight years old. “The culture is still prevalent a lot, we play a lot of music from there and like to have a lot of family gatherings too, and we are all like close friends,” Boateng told Pro Insight earlier this summer.
The young Little Rock product may already have a leg up on the 3-year NBA vet in his 3-point shooting, however. Though Dort has hit a league-average 34% from long range over the last two seasons, he made just under 31% of his threes during his lone year at Arizona State. If his high school coach is correct in stating Boateng is already knocking down roughly 40% of his threes, 31% in college should be an easy mark to meet as he continues to develop as a shooter.
Boateng also has a knack for being in the right place at the right time when hunting down offensive rebounds and loose balls, adding to his resume of being the perfect “glue guy.” This is also a skill that Razorback standout Moses Moody was known for during his time on The Hill. Boateng has the high-motor and physical capability of being a defensive-minded role player, but the continued progression of his offensive skillset opens the door for him to be much more.
Boateng’s offensive upside isn’t on par with Moses Moody’s when he was this age, but he could fill a role somewhere in between that of an NBA lottery pick like Moody and former glue guys like Au’Diese Toney and Trey Wade at the next level.
5-Star Prospects from Arkansas
There is still a ways to go until the 2024 rankings are finalized and Annor Boateng could still see movement in both directions. However, if he maintains his five-star status, he’ll join an exclusive list of Arkansas natives.
Since Rivals started its rankings in 2002, there have been just five players to come through the Natural State as five-star recruits in basketball.
The first was Archie Goodwin in 2012 and he signed with Kentucky. He was followed by Bobby Portis in 2013, Malik Monk in 2016 and the duo of Nick Smith Jr. and Kel’el Ware in 2022. Portis and Smith signed with the Razorbacks, while Monk and Ware went to Kentucky and Oregon, respectively.
Not included on that list, as of now, is 2023 commit Layden Blocker. He is the No. 29 player in Rivals’ rankings and on the verge of earning a fifth star, but he is a five-star recruit in the 247Sports Composite.
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