By Kevin McPherson
LITTLE ROCK — Junior college combo forward and Australia native Akol Mawein will be returning to the state of Arkansas in roughly a year to continue his college basketball career in the SEC.
Mawein, a class of 2021 prospect who played his final two seasons of high school basketball (2017-19) at Southwest Christian Academy (SCA) in Little Rock, committed to the Razorbacks on Tuesday and announced his pledge via Instagram on Wednesday as head coach Eric Musselman notched his second 2021 commitment covering a three-day span.
Mawein (6-9, 220, Navarro College in Texas) joined 2021 ESPN national No. 44 / 4-star prospect Chance Moore (6-5 wing, McEachern School in Georgia), who committed to Musselman and Arkansas while in Fayetteville on Saturday.
“I am excited to announce my commitment to play for Coach Eric Musselman and be a member of the Razorbacks Men’s Basketball FAMILY,” Mawein said in a Twitter post on Wednesday. “I cannot wait to get to Fayetteville. Thanks to (Arkansas associate head coach) David Patrick, (assistant) coach Corey Williams, (assistant) coach Clay Moser, and everyone who has helped me on my journey.”
In his juco freshman season at Navarro in ’19-20, Mawein started 21 of 29 games and averaged 13.5 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 1.2 assists while shooting 47.5% from the field (including 21-of-64 from 3 for 32.8%) and 62.4% from the free throw line.
A source recently told Hogville.net that Mawein was back in Australia but is planning to return in late August to Navarro, where he’ll play his sophomore season.
Mawein is expected to sign with the Hogs in the November early period. He’ll have two seasons of D1 playing eligibility beginning in ’21-22.
“He’s a Top 10 JC player nationally,” the source recently said of Arkansas’s interest in Mawein. “I would think so (that the Hogs would pursue Mawein) with his size, length, and shooting.”
Mawein was previously committed to UC-Riverside, where new Hogs associate head coach David Patrick — he too is a native of Australia — was head coach for two seasons before leaving for Arkansas on July 1.
A week following Patrick’s departure, Mawein de-committed from UC-Riverside — on July 8 — at which point Patrick and Musselman began recruiting him to Arkansas.
According to sources, over the course of the past month Musselman was inquiring locally in Arkansas about Mawein, while he and Patrick teamed up to host virtual meetings with the versatile big man.
Patrick was recruiting Mawein while the former was an assistant coach at TCU and the latter was an incoming junior ar SCA, and at the time it was believed that Mawein was TCU bound until Patrick took the head coaching position at UC-Riverside, where Mawein committed to after Patrick was hired.
Mawein effectively becomes the first recruiting win for Patrick at Arkansas, and Mawein becomes the second SCA player to commit to the Hogs in the past four recruiting classes (Gabe Osabuohien in 2017).
If Mawein does sign with the Razorbacks as planned and competes as a junior with UA in ’21-22, it would be the first time that a juco product who was recruited by Musselman actually played for Musselman, who presumably would be in his third season at Arkansas and seventh overall as a D1 head coach in ’21-22.
Mawein was an active frontline jack-of-all-trades playing his junior and senior seasons at SCA after transferring from Montverde Academy in Florida. He also played his spring and summer grassroots basketball with Arkansas-based Woodz Elite during his time attending SCA.
He’s effective facing up for mid-range shots, crashing the offensive glass for putbacks, and running the floor hard for transition scoring opportunities. Mawein’s a big effort player at both ends of the floor.
Linked here is Mawein’s hudl highlight reel from his freshman season at Navarro …