LITTLE ROCK — Just a few days on the job back in early April 2019, new Arkansas head coach Eric Musselman opened up his transfer-portal recruiting playbook for all to see: Cast a wide net and reel in some college veterans for now, stockpile some more for later.
Between late April and August, Musselman landed five transfers — two with immediate playing eligibility in grad-transfers Jimmy Whitt, Jr., and Jeantal Cylla, and three more who would sit out the 2019-20 season as transfer-redshirts in Connor Vanover, JD Notae, and “Baybe” Iyiola.
Fast-forward to mid-March 2020, and Musselman and staff are at it once again with at least 9 players identified as already having been in contact with Arkansas.
The most recent of those is Pittsburgh sophomore transfer Trey McGowens, and a source confirmed on Wednesday that McGowens’ camp had been in touch with Arkansas associate head coach Chris Crutchfield. Reports of an “offer” being extended to McGowens don’t quite hit the mark, but the Razorbacks are showing interest. Barring an NCAA waiver for immediate playing eligibility OR a change to the current NCAA transfer rules, McGowens (6-4, 190, guard, Pendleton, S.C.) will redshirt and sit out the 2020-21 season with two years of playing eligibility beginning in ’21-22.
McGowens started 31 of 33 games this season at Pitt, averaging 11.5 points, 3.6 assists, 3.3 rebounds, and 1.9 steals in 33.8 minutes per game while shooting 36.7% from the field (including 41-of-132 from 3 for 31.1%) and 72.2% on free throws. It was a slight efficiency and production-per-minutes-played downturn for McGowens compared to his freshman campaign in ’18-19 when he started 32 of 33 games and averaged 11.6 points, 3.2 rebounds, 1.7 assists, and 1.9 steals in 27.8 minutes while shooting 41.7% field goals (including 32-of-98 from 3 for 32.7%) and 76.4% on free throws.
McGowens has also heard from Georgia, Nebraska, TCU, Ole Miss, and Wichita State since entering the transfer portal, according to reporting by Corey Evans of Rivals.com.
McGowens is among more than 300 NCAA Division 1 players who are in the transfer portal, and as the list grows expect Arkansas coaches to continue to be aggressive in their swift-and-sweeping-contact approach. With a recruiting dead period — that means no on- or off-campus visits — recently being implemented by the NCAA as a precaution due to coronavirus concerns, uncertainty abounds in terms of a return to normalcy in college sports. But as long as the transfer portal is pinging with daily player entries, look for the Hoop Hogs to be in the mix of schools putting out a high volume of feelers.
Here’s a bit more on other transfers that the Hogs have reached out to in the past couple of weeks …
* Kevin Marfo (6-8, 245, forward, Quinnipiac junior transfer) … NCAA-best 13.3 rebounds, 10.2 points, and 1.2 blocks in 28.1 minutes per game while shooting 48.4% field goals and 71.0% free throws … Musselman personally reached out to Marfo, who since Monday has reportedly also heard from Texas Tech, Texas A&M, San Diego State, Louisville, Maryland, Seton Hall, Florida, Memphis, UConn, Rhode Island, Alabama, Cincinnati, Saint Mary’s, VCU, and Wake Forest … sit one, play one.
* Landers Nolley II (6-7, 230, wing, Virginia Tech freshman transfer) … Nolley, who reported an Arkansas offer as a national Top 75 high school recruit in the Class of 2018, had a tremendous freshman season at Tech, averaging a team-leading 15.5 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 2.4 assists in 32.0 minutes per game while shooting 37.0% field goals (including 31.6% from 3) and 78.0% free throws … Nolley reportedly has already heard from the Hogs, Arizona, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Mississippi State, Alabama, Wichita State, Florida, Minnesota, UCLA, Pittsburgh, South Carolina, Oregon, North Carolina State, SMU, Nebraska, Seton Hall, Memphis, UConn, Auburn, Georgetown, Maryland, TCU, and Oklahoma State … sit one, play three.
* Jamarius Burton (6-4, 200, guard, Wichita State sophomore transfer) … Burton started 24 of 30 games in ’19-20 and averaged 10.3 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 3.4 assists in 27.1 minutes while shooting 44.0% field goals (including 38.1% from 3) and 65.6% free throws … the Charlotte, N.C., native is a coveted transfer prize who has heard from nearly 50 schools, including Arkansas, according to reports … sit one, play two.
* Erik Stevenson (6-3, 198, guard, Wichita State sophomore transfer) … a west coast native, Stevenson has already narrowed his list of schools down Washington, Oregon, Gonzaga, Maryland, and San Diego State according to reporting by Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports … Stevenson started 21 of 31 games and averaged 11.1 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2.3 assists, and 1.5 steals in 24.7 minutes while shooting 37.7% field goals (including 30.4% from 3) and 78.3% free throws … Arkansas was among many high-major schools that reportedly contacted Stevenson after he entered the transfer portal … sit one, play two.
* Darian Adams (6-3 guard, Troy grad-transfer) … Arkansas, Oregon State, Colorado State, New Mexico State, Towson, & Jacksonville State are among the schools that have reportedly been in contact with Adams … he averaged 12.1 points, 4.4 rebounds, & 3.3 assists in ’19-20 … one year of immediate playing eligibility in ’20-21.
* Ed Croswell (6-8, 250, La Salle sophomore transfer) … Crutchfield contacted Croswell, who was the Explorers’ leading rebounder (7.3 boards per game, including 3.5 offensive rebounds per game) and second-leading scorer (10.0 points per game) while shooting 60.2% from the field and 55.2% from the free throw line in 21.1 minutes through 27 games played … according to Sports-Reference.com, Croswell led the nation with an Offensive Rebounding Percentage of 18.7% … Croswell reportedly has also heard from Providence, Seton Hall, St. John’s, Nebraska, Texas A&M, SMU, New Mexico State, Boise State, Hofstra, Towson, Drexel, Rider, Old Dominion and Toledo among others … sit one, play two.
* Evan Cole (6-10, 226, Georgia Tech grad-transfer) … Cole had 8 points (4-of-6 field goals) and 9 rebounds in 21 minutes off the bench in the Yellowjackets’ 62-61 overtime loss at home against Arkansas in November … Cole reportedly has heard from the Hogs, Cincinnati, San Diego, Santa Clara, Utah Valley, Cal-Poly, Boise State, Cal State, UAB, Eastern Michigan, Cal Baptist, UC-Santa Barbara, San Jose State, Charlotte, Georgia State, and Kennesaw State among others … the native of Cumming, Ga., averaged 4.4 points and 3.6 rebounds in 12.6 minutes per game while shooting 47.1% from the field and 54.1% from the free throw line for Georgia Tech, which finished its season 17-14 overall and 11-9 in the ACC … Cole’s per-40-minute numbers were outstanding: 14.1 points and 11.5 rebounds … one year of immediate playing eligibility in ’20-21.
* Kobe Webster (6-0 guard, Western Illinois grad-transfer) … Webster has already committed to Nebraska … he heard from Arkansas director of basketball operations Anthony Ruta in early March … Indianapolis native led his team in scoring the past two seasons, including 17.1 points per game in ’19-20 … one year of immediate playing eligibility in ’20-21.