Eric Musselman has done it again. Baye Fall is the latest five-star player to sign with Arkansas basketball.
The big man announced his decision during a ceremony Tuesday night, picking the Razorbacks over Auburn, Rutgers and Seton Hall. He had previously eliminated Kansas State, Texas and Colorado from his top seven, plus had offers from the likes of Illinois, Kansas, Memphis, USC and others.
Soon after the announcement, Fall’s signing was made official with an announcement by the UA, which included the first public statement from Arkansas’ fourth-year coach about his newest five-star.
“We are extremely excited about the addition of Baye Fall to our program,” Musselman said in the statement. “Baye has been a top priority for our coaching staff since the beginning of our tenure at Arkansas. He plays with contagious energy and is an excellent two-way player who can affect the game on both offense and defense.
“Baye fits our NBA/Arkansas mold with his versatility and being a positionless basketball player. We believe the pairing of Baye Fall with Layden Blocker can give Arkansas one of the most exciting freshman duos in the entire country next season.”
Listed at 6-foot-11, Fall is originally from Senegal, but moved to Denver when he was 15. Upon his arrival in the U.S., he quickly emerged as one of the top prospects in the 2023 class when he was named the MVP of the Pangos Junior All-American Camp.
It has only been up from there, as he has put up monster numbers in high school and continued to shine on the AAU circuit. In each of the last two summers, Fall has earned co-MVP honors at the Pangos All-American Camp Top 30 All-Star Game. He was also the top scorer and rebounder at the NBAPA Top 100 Camp this July.
After playing his freshman and sophomore seasons at Lutheran High School in Parker, Colo., he transferred to Denver Prep Academy for his junior season. Fall is now at Accelerated Prep, which is also based in the Denver area, as a senior.
A unanimous five-star prospect, Fall is ranked as high as No. 11 overall by Rivals. The other three major recruiting services — 247Sports, ESPN and On3 — have him inside the top 20, as well.
With a .9945 grade, Fall is 14th overall in the 247Sports Composite, which would make him the third-best prospect the Razorbacks have landed during the recruiting rankings era (since 2003). Only Nick Smith Jr. (.9993, No. 3) this past cycle and Al Jefferson (.9990, No. 3) in 2004 were rated higher, with Jefferson opting to go pro out of high school instead of playing in college.
“It was really tough,” Fall said about his decision. “I heavily considered every school in my top four, but in the end I had to do what’s best for me. Not only did Arkansas recruit me the longest and most consistently, but they play in a conference that I really like in the SEC. Plus, they know how to take guys to the pros, which is where I ultimately want to be. They can help me get it right and help me get to the next level.”
Fall made his announcement alongside his cousin, Assane Diop. A highly touted recruit in his own right, Diop — a four-star prospect ranked No. 91 overall in the 247Sports Composite — also considered Arkansas, but ultimately picked Colorado instead.
Musselman’s Next-Level Recruiting for Arkansas Basketball
The Razorbacks now have a pair of players in their 2023 recruiting class, as Baye Fall joins five-star point guard Layden Blocker.
Ranked No. 25 overall in the 247Sports Composite, Blocker plays at Sunrise Christian Academy in Wichita, Kan., but is originally from Little Rock. He committed over the summer and signed his National Letter of Intent during a ceremony in Fayetteville on Saturday.
With only two players still undecided, Arkansas is now one of five programs with multiple five-star players in the 2023 class, with the others being Duke, Kentucky, Oregon and Stanford.
What makes the Razorbacks’ group even more unique is that it is following a signing class that featured three five-star prospects in Nick Smith Jr., Anthony Black and Jordan Walsh. Only the Blue Devils and Wildcats have had multiple five-star players in each of the last two cycles.
Had Arkansas not missed out on five-star power forward Ron Holland, who has signed with Texas, it would have joined those two prestigious programs — Duke and Kentucky — as the only programs to pull off a five-star trifecta in back-to-back classes during the recruiting rankings era.
Even without Holland, though, the Razorbacks find themselves in pretty exclusive company when it comes to landing five such players (as ranked by the 247Sports Composite) in a two-year span. Duke and Kentucky have done it many times, Kansas has done it on two separate occasions, North Carolina has done it once and Arizona had a pair of overlapping two-year stretches in which it hit that number.
Making the Razorbacks’ recent surge even more remarkable is the fact that it doesn’t have a rich tradition of signing such high caliber of recruits. It wasn’t uncommon for Eddie Sutton or Nolan Richardson to sign McDonald’s All-Americans, but the emergence of recruiting site coincided with the downfall of Arkansas basketball.
Over the 19 classes between 2003-21, the Razorbacks signed only four total five-star recruits and half of them were within the first two years of that timeframe — Olu Famutimi in 2003 and Al Jefferson in 2004. The other two were B.J. Young in 2011 and Bobby Portis in 2013.
That means Musselman has now landed more five-star recruits in the two most recent cycles than Arkansas did in the previous 19 combined.
Arkansas Recruiting: Baye Fall Scouting Report
Assuming his listed height of 6-foot-11 is accurate, Baye Fall would be the tallest player not named Connor Vanover that Eric Musselman has had during his tenure with the Razorbacks. Before Vanover, the most recent Arkansas basketball player at least that tall was the 6-foot-11 Daniel Gafford.
Interestingly enough, Gafford — a former high four-star in-state recruit from El Dorado — is actually the comparison listed for him on NBADraftRoom.com. More specifically, the comparison is “Daniel Gafford plus.”
While his offensive game is still raw, Fall should be able to make an immediate impact as a rebounder, shot blocker and defender because of his length and athleticism. For a player his size, Fall is very fluid. He’s also much faster in the open court and quicker off the floor than other bigs his age.
If he continues to add strength and improve his offensive arsenal, there’s a chance Fall could be another one-and-done type for the Razorbacks. In fact, the 2024 mock draft on NBADraftRoom.com currently has him slotted 17th overall. NBADraft.net is even higher on Fall, as it currently projects him at No. 4.
However, those are still based a lot on potential and Musselman has work to do to help him reach that untapped potential next season. After all, even Gafford opted to return for a second season with the Razorbacks before entering the NBA Draft. While the extra year in college might have hurt his draft position, he ultimately carved out a role with the Washington Wizards.
See Fall commit to the Hogs started at 20:00 below:
More coverage of Arkansas recruiting from BoAS…