Two of the Top 10 Arkansas Basketball Transfer Wish-Listers Look Most Likely to Commit Next

Eric Musselman, Arkansas basketball, transfer portal
photo credit: Craven Whitlow / App State Athletics

The 2023-24 Arkansas basketball team missed a lot of things, but chief among them was a big, physical wing who could – at the minimum – play solid defense against multiple positions. That might have been a result of Jordan Walsh not sticking after the previous season, or a failure to sway Ron Holland from the G-League, but whatever the reason, the absence of such a versatile forward became one of the Hogs’ top shortcomings as the losses mounted throughout the season.

Don’t expect Hogs head man Eric Musselman to whiff in this area two years in a row, however. 

After locking down a commitment from skilled big man Josh Cohen out of the transfer portal late last week, don’t be surprised if the next pledge comes from either one of two promising wings. Both of those guys, conveniently enough, slot into the top 5 of the below wish list of Arkansas basketball transfer prospects. 

Transfer Portal Wish List for Arkansas Basketball

10. Frankie Fidler (6’7, Jr. | Omaha)

20.1 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 2.6 APG, 1.2 SPG, 45% FG, 36% 3P

Fidler is a big, versatile scorer out of Omaha. Last season, he was one of only 35 players in Division I basketball to average over 20 points per game, and he did so on nearly 36% shooting from long range.

Musselman teams have typically thrived with a versatile player on the wing capable of defending multiple positions and contributing as a scorer without necessarily needing a play run for them. The Hogs were missing that type of player during the 2023-24 season, and Fidler could be a great option to fill that role next season.

Fidler earned first-team All-Summit League honors as a junior. He will likely step in as one of the top two scorers on whichever team he transfers to, and he could make a potentially deadly tandem next to guys like Khalif Battle and Tramon Mark – provided the Hogs continue to fill in other gaps in the roster around them.

9. Toby Okani (6’7, Sr. | Incarnate Word)

11.1 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 1.9 APG, 1.5 SPG, 2.0 BPG, 39% FG

You might start to see a trend develop in this wishlist of big, versatile wing players capable of defending multiple positions. Okani fits that mold to a tee. Not only is he the prototypical 6-foot-7 forward with plenty of college experience, he was named to the Missouri Valley Conference All-Defensive team and he was the only player in Division I to average at least 1.5 steals and 2.0 blocks this season, according to Sports Reference.

The downside with Okani is his underdeveloped offensive game. He averaged 11.1 points as a senior at Incarnate Word this year with underwhelming shooting splits of 39% from the field, 32% from long range and 57% from the charity stripe.

This shouldn’t be seen as an automatic deal-breaker, however. Musselman has implemented relative non-factors into his offensive system before by allowing them the freedom to crash the glass, be aggressive as cutters and look for easy points off of turnovers.

8. JP Pegues (6’1, Jr. | Furman)

18.4 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 4.8 APG, 1.2 SPG, 42% FG, 36% 3P, 88% FT

Pegues is a dynamic scorer who got it done from all areas of the court this season at Furman. Along with being named first-team All-Southern Conference, Pegues had a relatively balanced shot distribution. He took most of his field goal attempts from beyond the 3-point arc (7.6 attempts per game), but he still hit his fair share of 2-pointers (6.0 attempts) and drew 4.8 free throw attempts per game. For reference, only Khalif Battle and Tramon Mark drew more free throw attempts per game last season at Arkansas.

Pegues is a bit on the smaller side compared to the bigger, more defensive-minded guards who have previously thrived in Musselman’s system, but his versatility and efficiency as an offensive weapon could make him a prime transfer target nonetheless – especially considering Musselman’s desire for his teams to be among the league leaders in free throw attempts.

It doesn’t hurt that Musselman and his staff have already gotten a first-hand view of just how deadly Pegues can be when he dropped 21 points and went a perfect 10-of-10 from the charity stripe against Arkansas early in the season.

He also added 6 assists in that game, contributing to his season average of 4.8, ranking him in the Top 70 on the season. Pegues might appear as a score-first guard, but that’s an impressive assist average for any level of college basketball.

7. William Kyle III (6’8, So. | South Dakota State)

13.1 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 1.7 APG, 1.6 BPG, 0.6 SPG, 62% FG

Though Kyle’s specific skill set doesn’t match up too closely with any player Musselman has had as a Razorback, his size and defensive prowess could make him the ultimate glue guy that Musselman has often utilized during his time at Arkansas.

His counting stats might not be eye-popping, but Kyle averaged over 1.5 blocks on his way to being named Summit League Defensive Player of the Year as a sophomore. It’s also worth noting he won the defensive honors while shooting a very efficient 62% from the field.

Musselman has often mentioned that he likes to have guys on the offensive side of the ball that don’t necessarily need a play run for them to find ways to score. Kyle averaged 2.2 offensive rebounds per game this year and certainly isn’t the type of player to demand scoring opportunities often – he can generate them himself with off ball movement and effort plays.

6. Chaunce Jenkins (6’4, Jr. | Old Dominion)

15.9 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 2.7 APG, 0.9 SPG, 0.9 BPG, 40% FG, 32% 3P

Jenkins is a score-first guard capable of scoring from all areas of the court. His 3-point percentage isn’t eye popping, but he’s versatile enough that 32% can make defenses respect him from beyond the arc.

The junior guard scored 20-plus points in 10 games this season, including a 21-point outing on 50% from long range in a loss to Arkansas. He also earned second-team All-Sun Belt honors.

It’s become a trend for Musselman to at least target players that his teams have already played against, even if the prospect eventually goes elsewhere. Stanley Umude, for example, put up 13 points against the Hogs the season before he joined the team.

Standing at 6-foot-4, Jenkins also fits the mold of a taller, more versatile guard better than some of the guards on the 2023-24 Razorback roster. While those players were talented, it’s clear that Musselman-led teams thrive with a bigger guard at the helm.

Virtually every successful team Musselman has had at Arkansas consists of a lead guard standing at least 6-foot-4 or taller: Jalen Tate (6-foot-6), Anthony Black (6-foot-7), Mason Jones (6-foot-5), Devo Davis (6-foot-4). Even Jimmy Whitt played bigger than his listed 6-foot-3 due to his wingspan and athletic ability.

5. Sam Alexis (6’9, So. | Chattanooga)

10.8 PPG, 9.1 RPG, 1.8 APG, 2.1 BPG, 0.3 SPG, 55% FG

Alexis is the type of defensive paint beast who could be a perfect complimentary piece on the right roster construction. He’s not a go-to scorer despite his impressive 55% shooting from the field, but Musselman has rarely relied on a big man to be the leading scorer on his previous squads.

In a lineup surrounded by playmaking guards and wings, Alexis’ tall build and frame would allow him to thrive as a defensive anchor and lob threat around the rim. Anyone who averages more than 2.0 blocks per game at the collegiate level is worth looking at for their defensive prowess.

It helps that he was also named to the Southern Conference All-Defensive squad this year as only a sophomore. Musselman hasn’t shown a preference for developing young players, but Alexis is the type of guy who could have an immediate impact and potentially stick around a program for multiple years.

4. Tre’Von Spillers (6’7, Jr. | Appalachian State)

12.8 PPG, 8.9 RPG, 1.3 BPG, 0.7 SPG, 60% FG

Spillers is another big, versatile forward from App State. He’s extremely bouncy, averaging about 2 dunks a game last season and showing how potent he is as a rebounding threat this season with 12 double-doubles on his way to 8.9 rebounds per game.

The junior transfer is essentially a non-factor from the perimeter, going 0-of-1 from beyond the arc this season. He did average 3.0 offensive rebounds per game, though, and was named to the All-Sun Belt First Team thanks to his versatile play on both sides of the ball.

Musselman likes to have a couple of players on his roster who can create scoring opportunities without the ball in their hands. Spillers is a great candidate to be that player with his offensive rebounding prowess – not to mention his 1.3 BPG and 0.7 SPG creating potential opportunities for points off turnovers.

This is one candidate to commit next given he’s already listed Arkansas in his top 4 along with LSU, Wake Forest and UAB. Of those teams, “he’s trying to set up a visit with Arkansas first,” according to Arkansas basketball reporter Kevin McPherson

That’s a good sign, obviously. Cohen made it a point to visit Arkansas first and called off two of his other top 4 choices after deciding Fayetteville was the place for him.

https://twitter.com/lukechaney247/status/1772653134550089909?s=20

3. Keyshawn Hall (6’7, So. | George Mason)

16.6 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 1.4 APG, 0.4 SPG, 47% FG. 36% 3P, 84% FT

Hall earned All-Atlantic 10 Second Team honors as a sophomore this season at George Mason, largely thanks to his elite scoring and rebounding numbers.

Any player averaging over 16 points per game could be considered a good scorer collegiately, but Hall’s ability to score from inside and out – and his impressive free throw percentage, which is usually a reliable indication of a pure shooter – makes him a very intriguing prospect.

No doubt, he’s intrigued by Arkansas too. “A source tells me Arkansas is at the top of his leaderboard right now,” McPherson noted, adding that he and Musselman had a Zoom meeting on Friday. So here’s another strong candidate to announce with the Hogs next.

The Cleveland, Ohio, native is a truly versatile wing who can fill the 3 and 4 spots this season. Sure, they had some guys that were close to the player archetype that typically thrives under Musselman like Tramon Mark and Jeremiah Davenport, but Hall is a player with potential to more closely resemble the Stanley Umudes of the past.

He’s perhaps not the same type of lock-down defender that Musselman has utilized on previous squads, but Hall did put up a positive defensive box plus-minus and tallied a 25% defensive rebound rate – an estimate of how many available defensive rebounds a player grabs while he’s on the court. For reference, Makhi Mitchell and Chandler Lawson led Arkansas in this metric last season at 19% and 18%, respectively.

2. Terrance Edwards Jr. (6’6, Jr. | James Madison)

17.2 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 3.4 APG, 0.9 SPG, 0.3 BPG, 43% FG, 34% 3P, 81% FT

Edwards was electric all season for James Madison, earning three Player of the Week awards, All-Sun Belt First Team, and being named the Conference Player of the Year as a junior. He could be classified as a score-first player considering his team-high 13.2 field goal attempts this season, but he also averaged nearly 3.5 assists per game as a primary ball handler.

The James Madison transfer helped lead the Dukes to a 32-4 record and into the second round of the NCAA Tournament as a 12-seed before falling to the Duke Blue Devils. Getting players from winning programs will likely be a priority this offseason.

Edwards’ 6-foot-6 frame is certainly interesting for a team that played more small-ball than they perhaps expected to last season, but it’s his ability to score from all over the court – combined with nearly three and a half assists per game – that makes Edwards an intriguing prospect.

1. Mikeal Brown-Jones (6’8, Sr. | UNC Greensboro)

18.9 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 1.1 APG, 0.9 BPG, 0.6 SPG, 54% FG, 43% 3P

Standing at 6-foot-8, Brown-Jones checks off a lot of boxes for the prototypical forward that has succeeded in Musselman’s system. He’s long, athletic, a versatile defender and can score in a variety of ways. It doesn’t hurt that he was also named to the All-Southern Conference First Team this season.

Not only did he shoot 56% from inside the 3-point arc on high volume this season, he also proved his worth as a pick-and-pop threat shooting over 43% from long range on the season. It’s also a major bonus that he averages upwards of 0.6 steals and blocks per game – something only Tramon Mark did for Arkansas last season.

The Hogs had several issues on both sides of the ball last season, but a truly defensive minded forward big enough to guard multiple positions was one of the biggest personnel gaps on the roster. Think guys like Au’Diese Toney, Stanley Umude, Trey Wade, Justin Smith, and Jordan Walsh.

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