Smith is the highest-ranked recruit to pick Arkansas since the ESPN recruiting database began in 2007. Head coach Eric Musselman now has four ESPN 100 prospects in the fold, giving the Razorbacks a potential top-five recruiting class.
“Arkansas’ system was the best fit for me,” Smith told ESPN. “They get up and down. They defend, too. Coach Muss has an NBA background. The ball will be in my hands, and I will play off the ball, too. My role will be to play a combination guard, to score and be a playmaker.”
Smith, an Arkansas native who plays at North Little Rock High School (Arkansas), chose the in-state Razorbacks over a list of schools that included Alabama, Auburn and Arkansas-Pine Bluff. Musselman began recruiting Smith soon after replacing Mike Anderson in Fayetteville back in 2019.
“He has been recruiting me hard since the ninth grade,” Smith said of Musselman. “On my official visit, he was with me everywhere on campus. He is very hands on, hyper in a good way and has great energy. His plan for me is to prepare for the NBA. He and his staff did something that was different. They broke down all my games from the EYBL. It was detailed. Coach Muss told me that I had nine three-point plays. That blew me away.”
Before Musselman took over at Arkansas, the last local ESPN 100 prospect to leave the state for college was Malik Monk, who chose Kentucky over the Razorbacks in the 2016 class. Musselman then landed all four Arkansas natives in his first full recruiting class in 2020, and the state didn’t produce any ranked prospects in 2021. And now Smith is the highest-ranked one in 2022, and he’s staying home.
“The fans are crazy. There is no pro basketball team, so the atmosphere for games is great,” Smith said. “They have shown me big love.”
A 6-foot-4 guard, Smith is ranked No. 6 in the ESPN 100 for the 2022 class. He was one of the best guards on the Nike EYBL circuit all summer, averaging 17.6 points, 3.5 rebounds and 3.0 assists in 15 games with the Brad Beal Elite program. He also shot 37.5% from 3-point range.
Smith is a highly effective scorer and shooter. In the open floor, he shows good straight-line speed with a burst and bounce to finish. In the half-court game, he has showcased deep range shooting off the catch. His ability to read and cut from off-ball screening actions is impressive, and what makes him hard to guard is his ability to attack the basket but change speeds to stop and score. He is accurate from the mid-range or in the paint with touch, body control and a knack for drawing contact.
Smith is the fourth ESPN 100 prospect to commit to Arkansas in 2022 — and the third in-state product. He joins Derrian Ford (No. 68), Barry Dunning (No. 76) and Joseph Pinion (No. 93).
The Razorbacks are also still in the mix for five-star Jordan Walsh, now the highest-ranked uncommitted player in the class, and Anthony Black, who falls just outside five-star range at No. 26.