Coach Musselman brings top-tiered talent to an Arkansas Razorbacks team that sets players up for NBA careers.
As is tradition, CBB Review again ranks the top 100 teams heading into the new college basketball season. We will reveal the next team each day until we reach the team slotted at number one. Follow along with #CBBRank on all our social media channels.
Eric Musselman won the portal battle. After losing four players, three freshmen, to the NBA, the Arkansas Razorbacks remind me of a typical Kentucky team, who could do a complete line change and not lose a beat. They also lost three players to the transfer portal. However, seven transfers are coming in with some of the nation’s best offensive and defensive platoon. On top of that, the Razorbacks also bring in two freshmen ranked in the top 75 according to 247Sports.
The worry for Musselman will be finding out the rotation. The players are all excellent. Just who will be good together, what edge do you need? Coaching this team will be difficult, but it is an extraordinary problem. With four former AAC players, who all had important roles on their teams, seeing how they work together will be an experiment.
The team has the pieces to compete on different levels, from going all offensive to hitting the opponent in waves. Arkansas could also lock up the opponent on defense with the length and ability of these players. As stated, this team will be fun to watch, but the coaching decisions will be interesting.
Click here to learn more about our preseason top 100 teams heading into the 2023-24 college basketball season.
Head coach: Eric Musselman (9th season, 5th at Arkansas)
2022-23 record: 22-14 (8-10)
2023 postseason finish: Lost to UConn, 88-65, in Sweet 16 of NCAA Tournament
Notable departures: Ricky Council (NBA), Anthony Black (NBA), Nick Smith (NBA), Jordan Walsh (NBA), Makhel Mitchell (Transferred to Little Rock)
Notable nonconference games: vs. Stanford (Nov. 22, in Bahamas), Battle 4 Atlantis (Nov. 23-24, in Bahamas), vs. Duke (Nov. 29), vs. Furman (Dec. 4), at Oklahoma (Dec. 9)
PG: Davonte Davis (6-3, 180, Sr.)
2022-23 stats: 10.9 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 2.5 APG, 1.4 SPG, 34.6 3P%
SG: Khalif Battle (6-5, 175, Gr.-Sr.)
2022-23 stats: 17.9 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 1.8 APG, 1.0 SPG, 41.0 3P% (Temple)
SF: Jeremiah Davenport (6-7, 205, Gr.-Sr.)
2022-23 stats: 9.1 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 1.5 APG, 0.8 SPG, 33.0 3P% (Cincinnati)
PF: Trevon Brazile (6-9, 215, Jr.)
2022-23 stats: 11.8 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 1.0 APG, 1.0 SPG, 1.2 BPG, 37.9 3P%
C: Makhi Mitchell (6-9, 230, Gr.-Sr.)
2022-23 stats: 7.0 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 1.1 APG, 1.4 BPG, 66.2 FG%
6: El Ellis (6-3, 175, Gr.-Sr.)
2022-23 stats: 17.7 PPG, 4.4 APG, 2.6 RPG, 1.0 SPG, 31.9 3P% (Louisville)
7: Tramon Mark (6-5, 180, Sr.)
2022-23 stats: 10.1 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 1.8 APG, 1.1 SPG, 0.4 BPG, 32.8 3P% (Houston)
8: Keyon Menifield (6-1, 185, So.)
2022-23 stats: 10.0 PPG, 3.1 APG, 2.9 RPG, 1.1 SPG, 33.0 3P% (Washington)
9: Denijay Harris (6-7, 215, Gr.-Sr.)
2022-23 stats: 8.9 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 0.6 APG, 0.2 BPG, 56.2 FG% (Southern Miss)
10: Baye Fall (6-10, 215, Fr.)
247Sports Composite No. 29 rated recruit
11: Layden Blocker (6-3, 180, Fr.)
247Sports Composite No. 58 rated recruit
12: Jalen Graham (6-9, 220, Sr.)
2022-23 stats: 5.2 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 0.5 APG, 65.5 FG%
13: Chandler Lawson (6-8, 205, Sr.)
2022-23 stats: 5.0 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 0.8 APG, 56.7 FG% (Memphis)
14: Kamani Johnson (6-7, 215, Sr.)
2022-23 stats: 2.2 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 0.3 APG, 0.5 SPG
Arkansas Razorbacks MVP: Davonte Davis
As the one returning starter to play most of last season, Davonte Davis chose to return to Arkansas and work to raise his NBA stock. With the new weapons around him, he seems to believe that the iron sharpens iron. Davis was a facilitator and allowed the stars to shine. He looks to shine this year, spending the off-season working on his craft. Davis has worked on expanding his game to become an even more lethal shooter. He increased his range and will likely run the show for the Razorbacks’ offense. Davis has not only worked on his ball handling but also his game. He spent the offseason working on his fitness, adding muscle, and increasing his cardiovascular ability.
Davis will likely improve even more with the notes from his workouts for the NBA. After another year of growth and knowledge of what he needs to do, Coach Musselman has brought back NBA players to help coach this team up and give insight. Davis is an explosive player, disrupts lanes, and has speed. Becoming a better handler and 3-point shooter, he will be a nuisance on both ends of the floor.
Arkansas Razorbacks make-or-break player: Trevon Brazile
Last year, Trevon Brazile was a substantial different maker for this Arkansas Razorbacks team. The offense completely switched after he went down with an ACL injury. Coming back from injury, Brazile should make an immediate impact on this team. Of his nine games, he had four games with less than ten points, with only one game being a game that he played over 30 minutes. Brazile had two double-doubles in the first nine games. He had the opportunity to open up this offense last year, and he has that same opportunity this year. With all these impressive shooters, Brazile can do the dirty work down low and disrupt the center. He also has this ability to clean up the boards and come in with some high-flying dunks.
There could be worry that after the injury, Brazile will have lost a step. This loss could be an issue with all the talent that has come in to help boost the roster. Different game scripts could cause him to get lost in the player shuffle. Brazile is the only big that has shown he can stretch defenses with his ability to shoot 3-pointers. Keeping defenses honest, he could be moved into various schemes and used differently. The hope is that he returns fully healthy and continues his self-improvement.
Key analytic: 3P%
The glaring issue for a star-studded team last year was the 3-point percentage. This team shot 31.3% from 3-point range for 317th in NCAA Division I basketball. This is rough; the 3-point rate is even worse, but even when they did take the 3-pointer, they were not falling. This year, this team looks to make a massive 180 with all the shooters coming in. Seven players are shooting over 31% from 3-point range, with three players shooting over 34%. This team will be difficult to cover as it stretches the floor and can play excellent defense.
Arkansas Razorbacks 2023-24 projections
Projected conference finish: 2nd in the SEC
Projected postseason ceiling: NCAA Tournament – Final Four Exit