College basketball recruiting: Arkansas beats out Alabama for five-star class of 2022 guard Nick Smith Jr.


247Sports

Arkansas landed one of its highest-rated basketball commitments of the 247Sports era on Wednesday, when five-star combo guard Nick Smith Jr. committed to the Razorbacks over Alabama, Auburn and Arkansas-Pine Bluff. Smith, an Arkansas native, is considered the No. 8 overall player in the 2022 class by 247Sports and is the top player in the state from the 2022 class.

Smith’s commitment gives the Razorbacks four top-100 commitments in a 2022 class that is now ranked third nationally in the 247Sports team rankings. His choice continues third-year coach Eric Musselman’s strong early run of success with in-state prospects after the Razorbacks landed four highly-rated class of 2020 prospects with deep in-state ties.

Musselman’s success in recruiting high school prospects, both in-state and in general, are evidence of how he’s recalibrated his roster construction formula for success in one of college basketball’s toughest conferences. After succeeding by relying more heavily on transfers than almost any program in the country while at Nevada from 2015 to 2019, Musselman and his Arkansas staff have struck a balance between landing high school prospects while also still mining the transfer market.

That work paid off last season when the Razorbacks finished 25-7 and reached their first Elite Eight since 1995 in Musselman’s second season. Landing players like Smith should keep Musselman’s squad near the top of an increasingly competitive SEC. Smith is regarded as a strong two-way player who can handle either guard spot.

The only Arkansas commitment ever ranked higher in the 247Sports era was class of 2004 center Al Jefferson, who ended up spurning the Razorbacks to enter the NBA Draft straight out of high school. That means if Smith suits up for Arkansas, he’ll become the program’s highest-rated player of the 247Sports era.



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