Sorry, Matt Jones. Fland’s Flip Underscores How Wrong Your Anti-Hogs Take Really Was.

Boogie Fland, Matt Jones, Arkansas basketball, Kentucky basketball
photo credit: Nick Wenger/SportsCenter Next / Twitter/KySportsRadio

New Arkansas basketball coach John Calipari appears to be settling in just fine, as his recruiting hot streak just keeps sizzlin’ with the commitments of point guard Boogie Fland and wing Billy Richmond.

A five-star recruit and consensus top-25 prospect in the Class of 2024, Johnuel “Boogie” Fland is ranked as high as No. 10 nationally by Rivals. Listed at 6-foot-2, 170 pounds, he is from the New York City area and a native of the Bronx. The former Kentucky signee reopened his recruitment on April 16.

Fland will be the second-highest ranked recruit to suit up for the Razorbacks in the modern era, according to Rivals. Nick Smith Jr. was the No. 2 overall player in the 2022 class. Fland is the eighth five-star prospect that Arkansas will have signed since recruiting services came to fruition in the early 2000s. A decade before that, Corliss Williamson was considered by some recruiting gurus to be the nation’s No. 1 recruit.

The 17-year-old Fland played his high school ball at Archbishop Stepinac in White Plains, N.Y., leading the Crusaders to multiple titles. He participated in the Nike Hoop Summit, the Nike EYBL and the Jordan Brand Classic, and put up 17 points and three assists in the McDonald’s All-American Game.

“Fland is a skilled guard whose biggest asset is his ability to shoot the basketball,” 247Sports scouting director Adam Finkelstein said. “Like few other players in high school basketball, he has an ability to heat up and start making tough shots from long range. However, his willingness to settle for those tough shots can impact his efficiency.

“Fland has spent most of his high school career playing off the ball, but has developed into a reliable secondary ball-handler who has become increasingly capable of initiating offense with the ball in his hands… Defensively, Fland has the long arms, quick hands and feet to be effective. He defends with a playmaking mindset that leads to a high steal rate.”

Nearly all of that is on display here:

Kentucky Jabs Don’t Hold Up Under Microscope

John Calipari’s first four commitments at Arkansas have all been splashes. Zvonimir Ivisic, a 7-foot-2 unicorn that’s a top-15 prospect in the 2025 NBA Draft, and two McDonald’s All-Americans in Boogie Fland and Karter Knox. Richmond clocks in as the No. 24 player in his class according to On3’s composite ranking. Not too shabby.

Despite this, some media members, particularly in Kentucky basketball circles, have tried their best to throw continued jabs at UK’s perceived blue-blood superiority over Arkansas. Matt Jones, the founder of KY Sports Radio, has been a particularly egregious offender with some hypocritical takes.

Despite referring to Razorback fans as “the new obsessive boyfriend stalking the Ex’s social media,” just a bit more than a week ago, Jones was first on the scene to throw rocks Arkansas’ way after it was reported that the Hogs were no longer in the mix for five-star big man Jayden Quaintance.

Hmm. For someone that’s “turning the page to a new era and excited about it,” Kentucky basketball fans are sure having a hard time keeping Calipari off of their minds. That was clear even before he was officially out the door, when all reports pointed to Calipari’s eventual departure, but Matt Jones came off as a stick-in-the-mud with his own report about hold-ups in the process that made it look like Calipari could stay in Lexington.

Of course, as soon as rival Louisville emerged as the frontrunner for Quaintance, Jones quickly pivoted and said that Kentucky was better off without him.

He has a point here, actually. Considering the smoking, runaway train that Quaintance’s recruitment process has become, Calipari and Pope might have begun thinking the 16-year-old wasn’t worth the trouble (or the reportedly massive NIL sum he was demanding).

With the flips of Fland and Richmond from Kentucky to Arkansas, Jones’ comment that “those two schools are not the same” deserves a closer look.

The five-star floor general and four-star wing are the third and fourth Wildcat defectors to follow Calipari to the Arkansas basketball program so far, with more expected in the coming days. Listening to players and coaches that know the college basketball landscape, it’s clear that Arkansas is not viewed as a huge step down from Kentucky. UK recruits continuing to flip to the Razorbacks makes it clear that most of them were more attached to Calipari than the school itself.

Matt Jones brands his media outlet as serving up Kentucky sports news in the “most ridiculous” way possible. 

To that end, we can only tip our cap and nod knowingly:

Enough about bizarro-world Matt Jones, however. 

Back to the men of the hour, both of whom hace said John Calipari was a major factor in their initial commitments to Kentucky, according to ESPN.

“He is a Hall of Fame coach who cares about his players,” Boogie Fland said. “He only wants the best for you. Off the court, he is a funny guy. He has a lot of jokes, and they are spot on. He told me this decision was like a marriage. You need to say, ‘I do.’”

Sure enough, Fland stayed true to his “vows” by following the legendary coach to Arkansas.

Familiarity with Calipari Wins Out

When Boogie Fland made the decision to reopen his recruitment on April 16, he told ESPN that he was “back to square one” and “open to hearing about other schools.”

That was certainly a cause for initial concern from hopeful Arkansas fans looking to poach him. Fland originally signed with Kentucky, choosing the Wildcats over Alabama and Indiana, among others. Coming off of a Final Four appearance, the Tide certainly could have been in play again.

There also looked to be some potential danger from Illinois after former Kentucky assistant Orlando Antigua returned to Champagne for a second stint. A native of the Bronx just like Fland, Antigua is an elite recruiter with a penchant for pulling in prospects from the Big Apple.

In the end, Fland’s relationship with Calipari won him over and brought him to Arkansas.

Who’s Next for Arkansas Basketball?

With a flurry of visits taking place this week, Arkansas’ next commitment will likely come sooner rather than later. The most obvious next domino to fall would be former Kentucky commit and four-star wing Billy Richmond III, who was on campus with Fland. The duo already knows each since they were teammates on the NY Gauchos, and all signs point to Richmond being a Razorback.

Arkansas Basketball Transfer Watch

This weekend, the Razorbacks will also host two big men transfers in Jonas Aidoo (Tennessee) and Brandon Garrison (Oklahoma State), according to Rivals’ Jackson Collier. Aidoo averaged 11.4 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.8 blocks as the defensive anchor for a Vols team that made the Elite Eight. Garrison averaged 7.5 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.5 blocks for the Cowboys and was a top-30 recruit out of high school.

While a visit hasn’t been announced yet, Arkansas is one the frontrunners to land UK transfer guard DJ Wagner, a former five-star recruit in the Class of 2023. There have also been rumblings of another Kentucky transfer, Jordan Burks, being in talks with the Razorbacks.


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