Despite Hogs’ lackluster season, national exposure helps recruiting

Although the season has not gone as planned, Arkansas basketball coach Eric Musselman said the vibes of recruiting are still strong, particularly after ESPN GameDay hosted their popular weekly show from the confines of Bud Walton Arena on Saturday.

Although the Razorbacks (10-10, 1-6 SEC) lost for the sixth time in seven SEC games, with a 63-57 defeat at the hands of No. 6 Kentucky later in the day, Musselman said the recruits on hand Saturday were thrilled with the experience of the pre-game show, as well as the raucous environment during the game.

“We can’t comment on any particular recruits, so what I can say is that we have two recruits that are going to come to campus pretty soon,” he said during his weekly radio show, Eric Musselman Live, Monday night at Sassy’s Bar & Grille. “They were extremely excited, and their families were excited.”

Of course, he was referring to Arkansas signees Isaiah Elohim and Jalen Shelley, who were both nominated last week for the 2024 McDonald’s All-American Game. They were two of 44 nominees, nationally, who were vying for 24 spots to play in the April 2 game at Houston’s Toyota Center.

Elohim, a 6-foot-5 wing from Northridge (Calif.) Sierra Canyon, is the No. 41 ranked player in the class of ’24. He signed with Arkansas on Nov. 8, after choosing the Hogs over Kansas, Villanova, Kentucky, Duke and Arizona, among others.

He was was rated a 5-star recruit going into his junior season  – the No. 2 overall prospect and the No. 2 small forward – before a knee injury limited his playing time last season.

Shelley, a 6-foot-8 forward who plays up the road at Link Academy in Branson, Mo., is the No. 53 player, nationally, and projects as a stretch-4 or small forward. He also signed with the Hogs over Louisville, on Nov. 8, the first day of the national signing period.

There are also a handful of other prime recruits the Razorbacks are targeting, who also liked what they saw this past weekend.

“Just the general feedback of guys that are out there in the recruiting landscape, it was super, super positive,” Musselman said. “I can always kind of gauge the interest level or the exposure, based on how many text messages I get. Whether it’s after a game or whatever, and I can tell you that before noon on Saturday it was like we had won a big game, even before we played the game.

After three straight trips to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament, which includes a pair of Elite 8 appearances, the fifth-year head coach has created quite a buzz for the program since arriving in 2019. Despite this lackluster season, the future still looks bright.

“That was based on the national exposure and how many people sent texts – people that I hadn’t heard from in years, were texting, at that time of day,” Musselman said. “A lot of people watched it. I think there were nothing but positives as you look into the future of what it can do for recruiting and stuff like that.”

After a stronger showing against the Wildcats, which included a lead at halftime, the Hogs are hoping to finally get off the schneid when they visit Missouri on Wednesday night. That game will tipoff at 7:30 on the SEC Network.

Story originally appeared on Razorbacks Wire