With the latest season of Musselman Island nearing its conclusion, here are my thoughts on where I think we are:
Brazile, Blocker and Fall are the only scholarship players with immunity, meaning their spots are guaranteed for next season. Blocker may not be as enthusiastic as fans are with Muss’ current transfer haul, but I don’t think he’ll try to be released from his LOI.
Pinion, Ford and Graham publicly communicated their intentions to return … as did Dunning, but Dunning has since entered the transfer portal … IMO, Pinion, Ford and Graham are not 100% “safe” at this point in the portal process.
Devo has earned the right to test the professional waters and come back if he wants to … I think Muss will do whatever it takes to make room for the Hogs’ Mr. March if he wants one more year as a Razorback. It would be Devo’s team and he would be its leader and captain.
I believe Makhi and Walsh are both getting feedback as to what their professional options are … I don’t see either declaring for the draft AND maintaining college eligibility … I think it’s a stay or go decision for both and my guess is they are both gone. I could certainly be wrong about this one.
Lastly, 2 of the 5 portal commits are also considering pro options (Mark and Ellis) … in the end, I believe both will be Razorbacks for their final collegiate season.
What does it all mean? It would not surprise me to see Muss pickup 2-3 more in the portal with an emphasis on frontcourt depth, defense and post scoring. If coach heads down that path - and especially if Devo comes back - then somebody else may need to be voted off of Musselman Island.
For the life of me, I can’t seem to come up with any reason that Walsh would leave unless for draft (and not sure that would be the right decision). Makhi for that matter too. Both were vital parts of the team down the stretch so to transfer aka leave would be very surprising to me at this point. Both will be key pieces next year too logging very good minutes each game.
I don’t think Mahki is leaving, but I am afraid Jordan’s pride might lead him to a poor decision.
He was a McDonald’s AA, and usually that means 1 and done.
I guarantee that is on his mind…even if he knows deep down 1 more season of hard work could propel him into the lottery.
He is thisclose to being a no-doubt lottery pick, but it seems like every time the NBA sniffs around an Arkansas player they jump to the league. Jordan seems to be wired differently, but I will still be (pleasantly) surprised if he comes back.
You’re probably not too far off, if at all, on your roster projections. Which means, we will have very few returning players. It’s not far fetched to think there could be zero returning players.
Not my idea of an ideal scenario.
No doubt Coach Muss will build a solid roster. No doubt he will coach them up and mold them into a formidable Tournament team next March.
But I’m still convinced the best formula is to return a solid nucleus of talent from year to year, and add to it through elite high school talent and the portal. Complete roster turnovers have lots of potential downsides.
It would be nice if we could start SEC play the way we finished in Coach’s 2nd and 3rd years. Put together a regular season like Alabama did this year, or Auburn the year before. The reward could be being sent to Memphis for the first weekend of the 2024 Tournament, then to Dallas for the South Regional semis/finals. That would be a dream scenario for many Hog fans.
I had mentioned that before. More than being McAA, I think it is about the other two McAAs that came with him left after one year and he will be left behind. That is tough on one’s ego, kind of like I think Qualls left because Portis left.
I’ve been thinking a lot about Mahki and why things are so quiet. I believe Muss would like for him to come back, but will still be looking for a difference maker (or at least a player that appears to be a difference maker) at center. Remember, Muss has had at least 1 “portal miss” each year. That’s not to say a “bust”, but provided less than expected.
I like Mahki a lot and believe he could very well take another big step this next season, like he did last season. I would love to see him come back, but that might not be the best thing for him at this stage of his career. We should remember that Mahki actually played only one complete year of college ball before arriving on campus last year.
Their first year out of High School both Mahki and Mahkel played very sparingly at Maryland. They both left school at the end of the 1st semester. Mahki then played 7 games at RI before a season ending injury. He played a full year at RI, but how healthy and mentally ready was he for that first year back.
Coming out of High school, Mahki was a solid 4 star, top 70 (#69) recruit. Mahkel was a three star (#169). Under Muss and staff, Mahki looked like a developed top 70 sophomore recruit by the end of this past season. Based on college playing experience, a sophomore (an older one) was exactly what Mahki was. As I’m typing this, Moses Kingsley (top 50) comes to mind. He had a tremendous season here in his 3rd year.
Mahki played very well for us and got generally better as the season progressed. I think he would continue to further develop if he comes back. However, if Muss gets a player in the portal who clearly appears to be better and if Fall develops fast, then, Mahki coming back and sitting on the bench, may end any chance of him later playing anywhere professionally. There’s a decent possibility that Mahki may be at the peak of his marketability as a late 2nd round NBA pick, or free agent, 2-way contract/G-League or overseas.
Clearly, Mahki (and Muss) have some huge decisions to make soon.
Muss’s background has been a blessing for the portal world we have today. Muss will make the hard decisions and his staff will continue to be focused on getting players and winning. Easy to be critical of some of the things that happen in these decisions but I look back and think of what the alternative might have been and glad we have Muss. I think Muss is in top four college coaches in how the game is being run these days. Kids know he is hard and focused but also enjoys winning—taking off shirt in NCAA and celebrating may not be some’s cup of tea but players like the swag and players win the games.
Any room on the island for the Razorback fans or should they consider the option of the Portal. I don’t argue with your conclusions, I only find itto be very frustrating. I am not certain Muss is all that committed tko Devo but maybe so.