Eric Musselman, Arkansas, college basketball coaches

Arkansas basketball rebuilds after graduates, transfers, and Moses Moody goes pro.

Arkansas basketball hopes to rebound into the NCAA tournament after a tough loss to the eventual champions in the Elite Eight to Baylor. The Razorbacks had a great year and gave the Bears a run for their money, losing 81-72. This team finished second in the SEC with a record of 25-7 in the regular season and 13-4 in the conference. Arkansas basketball finished 10th in the AP Poll.

Eric Musselman coached his heart out last year with quite a talented group. Arkansas basketball lost Moses Moody, who was picked in the first round at pick 14, to the Golden State Warriors. Two seniors in Justin Smith and Jalen Tate went undrafted but did play summer ball professionally. Brandon Kimble was the only other player from the Razorbacks to graduate. Coach Musselman lost Desi Sills to Arkansas State, Vance Jackson to East Carolina, Ethan Henderson to Texas A&M, Emeka Obukwelu to Northeastern State, Abayomi Iyiola to Hofstra, and Bryson Morehead to Texas Permian Basin.

With a strong push, Arkansas Basketball was able to land a couple of transfers of its own in Chris Lykes from Miami, Jaxson Robinson from Texas A&M, Au’Diese Toney from Pittsburgh, Stanley Umude from South Dakota, Trey Wade from Wichita State, Kamani Johnson from Arkansas Little Rock, and a Lane (Oregon) Community College transfer inΒ  Cade Arbogast.

These new Razorbacks brought in some talent in a total flip of the roster. Arkansas basketball loses two guards and eight forwards from the roster while bringing in three guards and six forwards. Two of the five starters from last season are all that remain in Davonte Davis and JD Notae.

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Projected Rotation

PG: Chris Lykes (5-7, 160, Gr. Sr.)

2021 stats: 15.5 points, 4.0 rebounds, 5.5 assists, 2.0 steals, 45.5 3P% (Miami-Fla)

Projected stats: 13.5 points, 2.5 rebounds, 5.2 assists, 1.8 steals, 42.8 3P%

SG: JD Notae (6-1, 195, Rs. Jr.)

2021 stats: 12.6 points, 3.1 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 1.4 steals

Projected stats: 13.2 points, 3.4 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.5 steals

SF: Stanley Umude (6-6, 210, Gr. Sr.)

2021 stats: 21.5 points, 7.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists (South Dakota)

Projected stats: 11.1 points, 5.1 rebounds, 2.2 assists

PF: Au’Diese Toney (6-6, 210, Sr.)

2021 stats: 14.4 points, 5.9 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.3 steals (Pitt)

Projected stats: 15.3 points, 6.1 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.6 steals

C: Jaylin Williams (6-10, 245, So.)

2021 stats: 3.7 points, 4.7 rebounds, 0.8 assists, 0.7 blocks

Projected stats: 6.5 points, 5.7 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 1.3 blocks

6: Trey Wade (6-6, 221, Gr. Sr.)

2021 stats: 6.7 points, 5.6 rebounds, 1.5 assists (Wichita State)

Projected stats: 7.1 points, 5.2 rebounds, 1.7 assists

7: Davonte Davis (6-3, 180, So.)

2021 stats: 8.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.2 steals

Projected stats: 8.1 points, 4.8 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.4 steals

8: Connor Vanover (7-3, 247, Rs. Jr.)

2021 stats: 6.3 points, 4.5 rebounds, 1.8 blocks

Projected stats: 6.7 points, 5.4 rebounds, 1.9 blocks

9: Kamani Johnson (6-7, 215, Jr.)

2020 stats: 11.0 points, 6.7 rebounds, 2.2 assists (Little Rock)

Projected stats: 4.3 points, 3.1 rebounds, 1.4 assists

10: Khalen Robinson (6-0, 175, So.)

2021 stats: 2.6 points, 0.9 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 8.4 minutes, 11 GP

Projected stats: 3.8 points, 1.3 rebounds, 1.2 assists

11: Jaxson Robinson (6-7, 193, So.)

2021 stats: 2.1 points, 1.1 rebounds, 0.3 assists (Texas A&M)

Projected stats: 3.2 points, 1.7 rebounds, 0.9 assists

Team MVP: Au’Diese Toney

Au’Diese Toney transferred from the ACC to join the SEC and get some recognition. He was a starter at Pitt, but joins Arkansas basketball and coach Musselman brought hopes that Toney could replace Moody. Toney was outshined last year by Justin Champagnie for Pitt but has shown more than enough to be a huge part of this offense. The Razorbacks will be thankful for his presence and experience as a leader for this team. Moody was able to come in and have some solid success, and if Toney can step up, he will be a huge asset.

Playing in the ACC, Toney will be an excellent defensive asset but has the ability to spread the floor and with the opportunities left open by Moody’s absence. Moody was the points, points per game, rebounds, free throw percentage, and field goal percentage leader for Arkansas. Both players are comparable at 6-foot-6, with Toney being a little bigger than Moody. Toney actually had a significantly higher field goal percentage while Moody had a slight edge in 3-point percentage.

Some other clear similarities show that the projection may actually be below, and he could easily be the leading scorer in the SEC. It also helps that Toney has the experience and continues to get better.

Make or Break Player: Chris Lykes

Arkansas basketball brought in Chris Lykes, who had success in Miami to run the point. The biggest issue in his position is his size. Standing at 5-foot-7, he had a lot of success in the ACC. Lykes only played two games last year after sustaining an ankle injury. However, he can push the tempo, create lanes, draw in defenses, and create shots for other players. When Lykes played a full season two years ago for Miami, He finished tenth in points per game, just behind Landers Nolley, he was ninth in field goal percentage (.432), fourth in free throw percentage (.814), and now he brings those to a strong Razorback team.

A year off, the hope is that Lykes will be a leader for Arkansas basketball and be a coach on the floor. His skill set works well with this team, and he is hoping to bring all these strong players together. Lykes’ leadership is something that Musselman will be thankful for. The ice-cold blood running in his veins as someone a team can lean on to make the big shots, Lykes talent could be overlooked due to his size, and many coaches will look past him. As a Razorback, Lykes will likely surprise a lot of competitors in the SEC as he continually had success year after year in the ACC.

Bench Rating: 9/10

The big bench players will include a strong rebounder and defensive player in Trey Wade, whose experience will be an asset. Coach Musselman also had strong guards returning in Robinson and Davis. The big men will also create a near-impossible second unit to guard, as Vanover and Johnson are two very tough and physical big men down low.

Look for Musselman to have one of the deeper benches by the time they reach SEC play. He could go 10 or 11 men deep throughout the entire season.

All of these players for Arkansas basketball could easily contribute or step in to replace any player at any time. Coach Musselman has put together such a strong team and could easily put together two very competitive teams with all of those assets.

Analytic to Know: AdjD

Arkansas basketball was 10th in adjusted defense last season, but this year that could change. Lykes and Toney both have fantastic numbers on defense but it looks like they’ll make up one of the smaller starting fives in power-six college basketball.

Defensive intensity will always be there on a Musselman-coached team but look for the offense to be near the top in the SEC and the country. The Razorbacks have too many weapons to ignore.

Team Outlook

Arkansas basketball slides in for its first matchup in non-conference play with Mercer and Gardner-Webb before it takes on Northern Iowa and then heads to the Hall of Fame Classic to take onΒ  Kansas State and either Illinois or Cincinnati. The Razorbacks then bounce around in Arkansas to take on Central Arkansas and Little Rock before taking on Charlotte, Oklahoma, Hofstra, and Elon.

The last resume builder comes in the SEC/Big 12 challenge as the team takes on West Virginia.

All of these games should prepare them for a rough SEC schedule that includes multiple ranked teams and squads that will ultimately vie for NCAA Tournament bids. Coach Musselman should be proud of his team that could easily make a long run this postseason.

Projected Finish: 3rd in SEC

Projected Postseason Finish: NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 Exit

Ceiling: NCAA Tournament Final Four Exit

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