LITTLE ROCK — Back in early August, 2022 Arkansas offer Derrian Ford was one of the first unofficial visitors for first-year Razorbacks head coach Eric Musselman, but until recently his parents had not been on campus or met with Musselman in person.
While Ford (6-3 combo guard, Magnolia, national No. 39 / 4-star prospect according to Rivals.com) was preparing to play in a 4A state quarterfinals game against Blytheville on March 6 in Farmington, his parents and siblings made the short drive from Farmington to Fayetteville to visit with Head Hog Eric Musselman and members of the Arkansas coaching staff.
Darnell Ford, Derrian’s father, said the visit was “awesome.”
“It was the first time I had been there, first time my wife had been there,” Darnell Ford said. “It wasn’t too flashy, didn’t go by too fast. It was nice. We got to visit and see the whole campus.”
His impressions of Musselman?
“Awesome, the whole staff!”
It was perfect timing for the visit as roughly a week or so later the world of sports, including high school and college basketball, came to a halt over covid-19 virus concerns. The NCAA also has implemented a recruiting dead period that prohibits on- and off-campus visits, although that doesn’t rule out phone calls and texts.
Darnell Ford said his son talks to Arkansas assistant coach Corey Williams multiple times a week.
“They talk, and Coach Williams always asks about his school, how his life’s going, they talk about God, he just talks about life,” Darnell Ford said. “I like that.”
Ford scored 21 points to lead then-No. 2 Magnolia over Blytheville, 69-55, in that 4A state quartefinals game as he eclipsed 1,000 points in career scoring, then the following day (March 7) in the 4A state semifinals he had 36 points, 6 rebounds, and 2 assists to lead Magnolia over Brookland, 63-56, in double overtime to advance his team to its second-consecutive 4A state title game.
But, Derrian Ford and now-No. 1 Magnolia (26-0) were not able to defend their state title in a rematch with No. 4 Little Rock Mills due to the postponement of all high school sports in Arkansas, a decision that still has no finality as the state championship games have never been formally cancelled.
Ford finished the regular season averaging 18 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists on a deep and talented team. He played in the 4th quarter only 7 times in the regular-season because of the large-margin leads that Magnolia enjoyed in games.
In addition to the Hogs, Ford also holds offers from Florida, Alabama, Texas A&M, Vanderbilt, Baylor, Auburn, Oklahoma State, TCU, Rice, Fresno State, and Oral Roberts.
Darnell Ford is not sure when his son will return for a visit to Arkansas, but he said he definitely will.
“Derrian is real good friends with all those (2020) guys that Arkansas has coming in, and we plan on catching as many (Razorbacks) games as we can (at Bud Walton Arena).”
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For the record: 2022 Quion Williamswas a guard at Jonesboro High School but transferred to Mansfield (TX) Legacy before the start of the 2019-20 season.
Apparently, some folks don’t follow Arkansas high school basketball and recruiting all that closely because MaxPreps recently listed Williams on its postseason All Arkansas team for ’19-20, and in a local recruiting piece published this week focusing on 2022 in-state prospects Williams was referred to as “Jonesboro guard Quion Williams.”
Williams (6-2 combo guard) has drawn interest from the Arkansas Razorbacks. He’ll be back playing at Mansfield Legacy as a junior in ’20-21 but prior to that he’ll once again be part of the Arkansas-based Joe Johnson Hawks spring/summer grassroots basketball program that includes other high-major prospects such as 2022 Joseph Pinion of Russellville (6-5 / 6-6 combo guard; Kansas, South Alabama, UCA, and Oral Roberts offers with several high-majors interested including Arkansas) and 2022 Jabari West, Jr. of Hot Springs (6-8 forward; offers include UCA, UAPB, and Alcorn State).
Currently, a total of four 2022 in-state prospects hold offers from Arkansas: Derrian Ford (6-3 combo guard, Magnolia), Nick Smith, Jr. (6-3 combo guard, Sylvan Hills, offer list includes Texas, Florida, Auburn, Ole Miss, St. John’s, Oklahoma State, and Tulsa among others), Javion Guy-King (6-5 wing, Little Rock Mills, also holds an offer from Alcorn State), and Kel’el Ware (6-10 forward / center, North Little Rock, offers include Virginia Tech, Texas A&M, Oral Roberts, and Alcorn State).
Arkansas has also shown interest in 2022 Creed Williamson (6-7 forward, Little Rock Christian Academy).
If you want more than just a fluffy glossover look at the 2022 class, consider there are many more prospects that have shown legitimate D1-level ability, and here are 10 who quickly come to mind: Cam Wallace (6-5 wing, Little Rock Parkview, offer from Alcorn State); Carl Daughtery, Jr. (6-2 combo guard, Maumelle); Devares Whitaker (6-0 guard, Nettleton); Corey Williams, Jr. (6-2 combo guard, Fayetteville, offer from Alcorn State); Jesse Washington (6-1 combo guard, Jonesboro, offer from Arkansas State); Amarion Wilson (6-0 point guard, Jonesboro, offer from Arkansas State); Christian Moore (5-8 point guard, Jacksonville); Khasen Robinson (5-11 combo guard, Bryant); Colby Garland (6-0 guard, Magnolia); Jalen Nettles (6-4 guard, Southwest Christian Academy, offer from Oral Roberts).
The two best in-state classes in recent years are 2017 and 2020 with both being talent-rich and deep with D1 prospects, and 2022 is on track to be the next impressive in-state class.
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Pair of in-state Arkansas interests report high-major offers: It was a busy week for 2022 Joseph Pinion of Morrilton and 2023 Layden Blocker of Little Rock Christian — both of whom are receiving interest from Arkansas, and both of whom reported scholarship offers this week from Big 12 schools.
Pinion (6-5 / 6-6 combo guard, Joe Johnson Hawks) was offered by Kansas on Tuesday while Blocker (6-0 point guard, Joe Johnson Hawks) was offered by TCU on Thursday.
Pinion took an unofficial visit to Arkansas in early November, while Blocker was on hand for Arkansas’s Red-White game in venerable Barnhill Arena in Fayetteville in October.
Arkansas assistant coach Corey Williams attended an LRCA practice in the fall to watch Blocker play.
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Young Arkansas offers glad to see the Muss Bus make a pit-stop in Fort Smith: Two North Little Rock Charging Wildcats — 2022 Kel’el Ware (6-10 forward / center) and 2023 Bryson Warren (6-1 combo guard) — picked up their Arkansas offers on the same Friday night in January in Fort Smith after playing against Southside.
Weeks later, the duo was back in Fort Smith with their team for a Friday night matchup against Northside, and this time Head Hog Eric Musselman was in the house along with Arkansas assistant coach Corey Williams to watch the pair as well as 2020 Razorbacks commit Jaylin Williams of Northside.
Warren, who scored a team-high 11 points in North Little Rock’s 45-42 loss against Northside, said playing in front of Arkansas coaches offered a range of reactions for him.
“It was an awesome experience,” Warren said. “I was a little nervous at first then it went to normal. Just glad to show them that I have gotten better over time.”
Ware, who finished with 6 points, 10 rebounds, and 3 blocks against Northside, saw it as a valuable experience for a young player.
“It was a great opportunity to play in front of them, especially in the 10th grade,” Ware said.