Five-star combo guard Nick Smith Jr. announced Wednesday he is committing to play basketball for head coach Eric Musselman and the Razorbacks.
Smith is a 6-foot-4-inch shooting guard from North Little Rock High School. He chose Arkansas over the likes of Alabama, Auburn and Arkansas-Pine Bluff.
Musselman’s NBA coaching experience was a big factor in Smith’s decision, he said.
“Just (Musselman) having NBA experience and NBA connections is really what pulled my interest,” Smith told ESPN’s Paul Biancardi on Wednesday evening. “When I went to campus, the visit was cool, but (after) the presentations he had with me and my family, it was kind of a no-brainer.”
Only four other five-star recruits have ever committed to Arkansas, and Smith will be the highest-rated prospect to ever become a Razorback. The other recruits were Olu Famutimi in 2003, Al Jefferson in 2004, B.J. Young in 2011 and Bobby Portis in 2013.
Smith became the second top-10 basketball recruit to commit to the Razorbacks, after Jefferson, and is the first Arkansan to crack the top 10 since Malik Monk ranked ninth in 2016.
Musselman’s early success is likely a key reason Smith decided to commit to the Hogs. Mussleman is 45-19 at Arkansas and took the program to its 11th Elite Eight appearance in school history last season.
“Just the mindset he has when it comes to basketball and the people he has around him right now, it’s really like he’s a basketball genius,” Smith said to Biancardi. “And he has a lot of NBA league experience, so that’s something I wanted to be a part of.”
Smith could not have visited the UofA as part of his recruitment process at a better time. His official visit was during the weekend of September 10-12, during which he attended the Razorback football team's 40-21 beatdown of the Texas Longhorns along with nearly 75,000 screaming Hog fans.
The overall success of Arkansas athletics likely influenced Smith’s choice to stay in state. He joins Derrian Ford, Barry Dunning and Joseph Pinion as the Class of 2022 players committed to Arkansas so far.
Smith’s all-around playmaking skills will be a boon for a Razorback team that has a great shot at making another deep run in the NCAA Tournament in the upcoming season.