Elite Shooter Among 7 Top Arkansas Transfer Prospects Is Familiar Face

Kasean Pryor, DJ Wagner, JT Toppin, Arkansas basketball, transfer portal
photo credit: USF Athletics / Kentucky Athletics / New Mexico Athletics

In less than a month, John Calipari has gone from zero to seven scholarship players on his first Arkansas basketball roster.

Considering his transfer portal haul is already No. 1 in the country on 247Sports and all three of his high school signees are five-star recruits, that’s one heck of a start.

However, the Razorbacks still need to fill out the rest of the roster. That means adding another six scholarship players. Calipari will likely do that with more transfers.

Here’s a closer look at seven options still in the portal that Arkansas could pursue for 2024-25…

Tapping Back Into the Kentucky-to-Arkansas Pipeline

D.J. Wagner

A five-star recruit and top-6 prospect in the Class of 2023, D.J. Wagner spent his freshman year at Kentucky and earned a spot on the SEC All-Freshman Team after averaging 9.9 points and 3.3 assists.

Not only did he play for John Calipari with the Wildcats, but Wagner also seriously considered playing for Kenny Payne at Louisville when he was coming out of high school. Now both of those coaches are in Fayetteville. His father played for Calipari at Memphis, as well.

Throw in the fact that he was a high school teammate and good friend of five-star signee Billy Richmond III, a ton of signs are pointing toward Wagner heading to Fayetteville. However, Eric Musselman is also trying to get him to USC and even secured a visit. Luckily for the Hogs, Calipari will also get a chance, as Wagner will reportedly visit Fayetteville this weekend.

Ugonna Onyenso

One of three 7-footers on Kentucky’s roster last season, Ugonna Onysenso is originally from Nigeria and was a consensus top-25 recruit in the 2023 class before reclassifying to 2022. Even after moving up a class, he was still a top-50 prospect.

Similar to Adou Thiero, Onysenso played sparingly as a freshman (6.9 min. in 16 games) before seeing an uptick in playing time this year, averaging 18.8 minutes and making 14 starts. He averaged just 3.6 points, but grabbed 4.8 rebounds and blocked 2.8 shots per game.

Although he initially only declared for the NBA Draft, Onysenso has since also entered the transfer portal. However, he was invited to the NBA Draft Combine, so he could opt to pursue a professional career. If he does choose to return to college, though, Onysenso would make sense for Arkansas, which – even with Zvonimir Ivisic and Jonas Aidoo – could stand to add another big man.

Jordan Burks

Not a particularly highly touted recruit, Jordan Burks was a late addition to Kentucky’s 2023 signing class. He was a four-star recruit on ESPN and On3, but a three-star on Rivals and 247Sports. That’s after he spent his final year of high school playing with Overtime Elite, where he averaged a league-high 27.1 points.

There were some encouraging moments from Burks early on, including in Kentucky’s preseason pro day, but he spent his freshman year as a reserve who appeared in only 20 games and averaged just 7.2 minutes.

Considering he needs to fill out an entire 13-man roster, it’s important to remember that John Calipari will probably need some developmental pieces to go with the stars and he could do a lot worse than a 6-foot-9 forward with a lot of potential like Burks.

Other Potential Arkansas Targets Testing NBA Waters

Each of the following players have entered the transfer portal, but are also testing the NBA Draft waters as early entrants. They have until May 29 to withdraw from the draft and maintain their collegiate eligibility.

Jaxson Robinson – BYU

This is a name Arkansas basketball fans should remember. Eric Musselman recruited Jaxson Robinson out of high school and initially lost him to Texas A&M, only to snag him out of the transfer portal a year later. In his lone season with the Razorbacks, though, he played sparingly (10.2 min. in 16 games) and averaged only 3.4 points before hitting the portal again.

In his third stop, Robinson finally blossomed into the player he was believed to be as a top-100 recruit. As a starter for BYU, he put up 8.5 points per game and shot 34.3% from beyond the arc as a junior. Despite coming off the bench most of this past season, Robinson averaged 14.2 points and shot 35.4% from deep, earning Big 12 Sixth Man of the Year honors.

His combination of size (6-foot-7) and shooting ability have made him an intriguing NBA Draft prospect, leading to a combine invitation, but Robinson could choose to use his extra year of eligibility and play another year in college. If he does so, Kentucky would be the obvious favorite to land him because of Mark Pope, but the Razorbacks could certainly use another shooter if they can convince him to pull a Jimmy Whitt.

Wooga Poplar – Miami (Fla.)

Another player who could satisfy that need for another shooter is Wooga Poplar, who has spent the first three years of his career at Miami (Fla.). A 6-foot-5 shooting guard, he played sparingly as a freshman, but has seen his role steadily increase, resulting in a breakout junior year in which he averaged 13.1 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.1 assists.

Poplar has shot 38.1% from beyond the arc the last two seasons and even saw a slight uptick in that category – from 37.5% to 38.5% – as a junior despite his attempts doubling from 2.8 to 5.6 per game. He’s an excellent free throw shooter, as well, making them at an 86.5% clip over that span.

According to Jon Rothstein, Poplar is receiving interest from quite a few big-time programs, including Arkansas, Kentucky, Kansas, Auburn and several others. The other thing the Razorbacks would have to worry about is the NBA, as he was one of the players invited to the G League Elite Camp starting this weekend. A handful of those 44 participants will earn invitations to the NBA Combine.

JT Toppin – New Mexico

Playing for Richard Pitino on a New Mexico team that went 26-10 and won the MWC Tournament, JT Toppin – who isn’t related to Obi and Jacob Toppin – was one of the best under-the-radar freshmen in the country last season. The 6-foot-9 forward averaged 12.4 points, 9.1 rebounds, 1.9 blocks and 1.1 steals in 26.6 minutes.

That earned him second-team All-MWC and MWC co-Freshman of the Year honors – in a league that produced six NCAA Tournament teams. A native of Dallas, Toppin also shot 62.3% from the floor and even made 34.4% of his 3-pointers, albeit on very limited attempts (11 of 32).

Given his size and skillset, Toppin has generated some interest from the next level and was invited to the NBA Combine. If he opts to stay in college, though, he’ll have plenty of suitors. ESPN ranks him as the No. 12 overall player in the transfer portal this cycle.

His next-level abilities come through pretty clearly here:

Other Transfer Portal Options for Arkansas Basketball

Kasean Pryor – South Florida

One of the more intriguing prospects in the transfer portal, Kasean Pryor is a 6-foot-10 big man who hardly saw the court in two years at Boise State, spent a year in JUCO and then enjoyed a breakout season at South Florida, which won the AAC regular-season title.

He averaged 13.0 points, 7.9 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.2 steals in 26.3 minutes, plus shot 35.2% from beyond the arc on 3.3 attempts per game.

The Razorbacks already have Kentucky transfer Zvonimir Ivisic (7-foot-2) and Tennessee transfer Jonas Aidoo (6-foot-11), but could use another big man. Pryor’s skillset makes him a desirable option.

Off the Board for Arkansas Basketball

Kadary Richmond – Seton Hall

Kadary Richmond is No. 1 player in the transfer portal on ESPN and 247Sports. He’s coming off a season in which he averaged 15.7 points, 7.0 rebounds, 5.1 assists and 2.2 steals in 32.7 minutes for Seton Hall in the basketball-rich Big East.

A former top-100 recruit who began his career at Syracuse and has been at Seton Hall the last three years, Richmond is a 6-foot-6 point guard who helped the Pirates win the NIT this past season. 

As a recruiting pitch, Calipari could have pointed out that at Memphis he coached Tyreke Evans, one of the best 6-foot-6 point guards in college basketball in recent decades. After one season producing a similar stat line to what Richmond just did at Seton Hall, Evans became the NBA Rookie of the Year in 2009-10.

The Razorbacks did sign five-star point guard Boogie Fland, but it would be really beneficial if they could add a veteran at that position to help bring him along and ensure he doesn’t shoulder the load by himself as a freshman. Having two high-caliber point guards would also allow FAU transfer Johnell Davis to play more of his natural combo/shooting guard spot. Of course, the Razorbacks will now have to look elsewhere because Richmond has committed to St. John’s.


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