Core 4 - JWill, Devo, Umude, Toney … elite rebounding & defense wins championships and these guys have it … will lead in minutes played in Muss’ system … three stellar Power 5 veteran starters along with a mid-major star who finished Top 10 in NCAA D1 scoring equals a recipe for success
The 5th - JD, KK or CLykes … my money is on the Razorbacks best returning offensive player, JD Notae, as the 5th starter … he’s earned it with last year’s play and his offseason commitment to be at his absolute best physically … and he will help Hogs avoid falling way behind opponents early as has happened frequently in the past … if JD plays WE BALL, this team will be Sweet Sixteen or better
Sixth Man - assuming JD starts, someone will need to replace the SEC’s reigning 6th Man … Mr. Energy-Off-The-Bench for 2021-22 will likely be CLykes or (a healthy) KK, or maybe both at the same time! … excellent guard depth with 2 elite scorers who could be starters for many high major programs … instant offense and tempo off the bench should help limit the “dry spells” that plagued last year’s team at times
Super Sub Frontcourt - my choice for first off the bench (by the time league play starts) to sub for JWill or Umude is Trey Wade … with Justin Smith-like athleticism and a serviceable 3pt and mid-range game, Wade is my predicted “nice surprise of the year” among the transfers joining the Hogs … expect Umude, JWill and Wade to get the lion’s share of frontcourt minutes with Vanover (based on matchups) and KJohnson contributing as needed to rest key players or avoid foul trouble
Hot Wings - last but not least, I think Jaxon Robinson will be waiting in the WINGS to give Toney an occasional break … with his playing time dictated on how HOT he is from behind the arc … probably a future starter for the Hogs, Jaxson should gain valuable experience this season as a key sub on a team aiming for a long run in the NCAA tournament … Chance Moore should also provide wing depth, but primarily in non-conference play
Fun read. I think Notae will start and will end up being recognized and the team MVP. Feels like Devo is really getting hyped up - easier to be a pleasant surprise as he was last year than to be counted on as a lead dog. I think Devo is still a work-in-progress and that will show this year.
This team is loaded with grown men and as excited as I am about the 5-stars and others in 2022, I think this is going to be the year for the program to make some big noise.
Very good analysis. I agree with most, but am just not quite there with JD as a starter. I think back to his one start last year. Muss started JD against Auburn after the Hogs had lost 4 of 5 games. It was clearly his worst game as a Razorback. 0-5 shooting, 2 TOs, 0 assists. His man scored something like 15 points in the 11 minutes JD was guarding him. Muss gave JD 11 minutes total and left him on the bench the rest of the game. I will admit, that Desi was on fire that game, and that would have given JD fewer minutes even if he hadn’t played so poorly.
For the rest of the season, JD played great as the 6th man of the year in the SEC. I remember reading a Muss quote about how much better JD played when he could watch the flow at the start of a game and get a good understanding of what was expected of him in each game when he came off the bench.
There’s no doubt in my mind that, even if he doesn’t start, JD will get starter minutes and probably be the 2nd or 3rd high scorer on the team. IMO, Muss will probably give JD starts early in the season and see how he reacts as a starter in comparison to playing as a 6th man. Without a doubt, JD has the skills to be a starter and a team leader in scoring.
This week Muss stated that clearly, Devo and JWill had become the vocal leaders of this team. I thought that was great news, even though they are just sophomores.
I tend to concur with you on the roles you have laid out. However, I would not count Lykes out when it comes to grabbing that final spot. Man this is a deep and talented team. Can’t wait for the season to start!
Any adjustments after 2 exhibition games and the regular season opener?
I’ll say it again, Devo is a great player (especially defensively) who is still developing but he got WAY overhyped after some great plays near the end of last season. He needs to keep developing and relying on hustle and taking advantage of opportunities as they present themselves - he’s pressing due to all the hype, IMO. Desi started as a hustle guy and his success kind of went to his head and he lost that identity a little bit - need Devo to not forget his “best loose ball-getter identity”.
JD is the man, although I’m sure he will have a few rough stretches this year. Lykes and Toney will be in the middle of it too. Taking Umude longer to find his niche than I thought it would but I still believe he is going to be a major piece of the puzzle. Thought Wade would fill a lot of the Justin Smith minutes but that’s still TBD.
Lots of moving parts. Going to be fun seeing how Muss pulls it all together!
I’m just glad that, for now, it looks like we will still have KK, Devo, and J Will on the team next year. It will be nice to build some continuity with the studs that are coming. And Toney could come back as well. Add in Jaxson, Moore, and Johnson, and even if we don’t add another player to this recruiting class (which I’m sure we will), we look absolutely stacked next year. I didnt mention Connor, because I just don’t know what to expect from him. Go Hogs!
One question that has already been answered, in my mind, is that Devo is not ready to fill Jalen Tate’s shoes … he’s a top notch defender, but too careless with the basketball (at this point) to be the primary ball handler. I think that role eventually goes to Lykes and hope Muss makes the move sooner than later so the Hogs can take their lumps - while Lykes learns the system - before league play. My thoughts on a top 8 on November 11th: