Arkansas basketball enters the 2022-23 basketball season behind one of the most impressive recruiting classes in program history. The class is ranked No. 2 in the nation and includes three McDonalds All-Americans in Nick Smith Jr., Anthony Black and Jordan Walsh.
With a collection of talent like that, the intrigue and excitement for Arkansas basketball extends far beyond just the fanbase. NBA scouts and executives are also going to be keeping a close eye on this year’s team, as the trio of Smith Jr., Black and Walsh are all projected to be first round selections in the 2023 NBA Draft.
The most intriguing prospect of the trio might just be freshman wing Jordan Walsh. At 6-foot-7 with a 7-foot-3 wingspan, Walsh has the combination of size, skill and athleticism that make him a perfect slashing wing in today’s game.
However, his skillset is still very raw and struggles to keep up with his freak athleticism. Going forward, he’s going to have to show some consistency with his playmaking and jumpshot to take that next leap in his development.
Rafael Barlowe, of NBA Draft Junkies, asked a couple of anonymous NBA scouts their thoughts on Walsh.
“He led Arkansas in scoring the other day [vs. Texas]. He’s an extreme competitor, [he] comes from a great family and talent-wise he’s a monster,” said one scout.
“The way he moves, I can’t even find a comparison,” said another scout. “You don’t see that often, at 6’7″ with a 7’3″ wingspan and ball skills. And he’s a freak competitor with a great motor. His ceiling is pretty high.”
In their exhibition loss to Texas a week ago, Walsh led the Hogs in scoring with 14 points (6-8 FG, 2-3 3PT) while grabbing 5 rebounds and 2 steals.
On the flip side, his outing in the season opening win against North Dakota State was rough, as he only scored 2 points, 2 rebounds and 3 assists before fouling out with 10 minutes left in the game. This is a prime example of the growing pains freshman players face when adjusting to the pace of the college game.
While he might not be getting the same attention as his backcourt counterparts Anthony Black and Nick Smith Jr., Walsh could be the key to how far this Arkansas team can go.
If he can put all aspects of his game together quickly and become more consistent, then Arkansas basketball will be a threat to make another run in March and Walsh could be hearing his name called in June a lot earlier than expected.