FAYETTEVILLE — Coincidentally, Eric Musselman’s scheduled series of one-on-one interviews Thursday with various Arkansas sportswriters and sportscasters came on the heels of transfers Isaiah Moss from the University of Iowa and Conner Vanover of the University California announcing they are joining the new Arkansas coach’s Razorbacks basketball team.
Moss, 6-foot-5, a three-year starting guard at Iowa after redshirting as a freshman comes to the UA as a graduate transfer.
Vanover, a 7-3 center originally from Little Rock and the son of former Lady Razorbacks basketball player Robyn Irwin and nephew of former Razorbacks linebacker Terry Irwin, arrives as a sophomore with three seasons of eligibility.
For now, Vanover must redshirt in 2019-2020 as an undergraduate transfer from a Division I school but he could appeal to the NCAA seeking 2019-2020 UA eligibility both because California fired the coach Vanover played for this past season and because his grandmother in Arkansas has been ill.
Moss, coveted by Kansas before he opted for Arkansas, should fit beautifully with returning 6-5 guards Mason Jones, now a junior, and Fort Smith Northside grad Isaiah Joe, now a sophomore, from the 18-16 2018-2019 Razorbacks coached by Mike Anderson.
A three-year Iowa starter, 28 starts in 34 games as a freshman and starting all 33 and all 35 Iowa games as a sophomore and junior, Moss averaged 11.1 points two seasons ago and 9.2 points last season.
Joe averaged 13.9 points while hitting 113 of 273 3-pointers last season.
Jones averaged 13.6.
“To get a guy like Isaiah Moss to think he can be on the floor with Mason and with Isaiah Joe,” Musselman said Thursday. “That really excites me to think we have three guys at that 6-6, 6-5 range and you’ve got guys like Desi (Sills, the starting sophomore guard from Jonesboro) that can score the ball from his position. And then the speed of a Jalen Harris. I think at least in that backcourt at that 1-2-3 spots some of these guys may have to play a little 4, too if we play small ball.”
It appears they may play small a lot.
Forwards Gabe Osabuohien, a junior two-year letterman, and sophomore letterman Reggie Chaney, are the tallest Razorbacks at 6-8.
Obviously that changes if Vanover makes and appeal and gets a favorable judgment.
For now, Musselman’s tense regarding the Vanover speaks entirely into the future.
Besides with only 225 pounds on a 7-3 frame, a redshirt year in the weight room might benefit Vanover and the Hogs down the road even more than playing now.
“ I think he’s a guy that has incredible upside,” Musselman said. “We talked to a lot of the Pac 12 coaches to find out what they thought of him. You are talking about an incredible upside. You are talking about a guy that at 7-3 can make 3-balls. For sure he’s a big-time 3-point threat. He’s a great defensive rim protector. He definitely needs to get stronger and add weight and add strength in the weightroom. But that’s what’s really exciting about him. He has such a high ceiling.”
Previously, Musselman and assistant Corey Williams, the lone assistant Musselman has officially hired thus far, added 6-7 graduate transfer forward Jeantel Cylla who average 16.6 points last season for the University of North Carolina-Wilmington.
Like Moss, Cylla has just 2019-2020 season of UA eligibility.
So far all of Musselman’s additions have been transfers.
The one-and-done graduate transfers were recruited to help fill some holes for this 2019-2020.
And with forward Adrio Bailey, the lone returning senior, they’re one and done save scholarship room for what’s projected to be strong 2020 and 2021 recruits coming out of Arkansas high schools.
Musselman said even they weren’t saving some scholarship room, he’s always alert to the NCAA transfer portal.
“Obviously the 2020 and 2021 classes are really, really important,” Musselman said. “But the landscape of college athletics right now is transfers. Grad transfers — you are talking about places with as much basketball tradition as anywhere like Kansas now diving into the transfer market. You look at what Texas Tech did last year. They don’t have the run that they have without two grad transfers in (Matt) Mooney and Tariq Owens. They make a Final Four run and they do that with two starters that are grad transfers.
“So it’s kind of the way the world is evolving. There’s great transfers in football now that are having a huge, huge impact. I think the days of only high school recruiting, they’re obsolete. You’ve got to change with the times.”