Arkansas officially began its men’s basketball preseason practices last week with some Razorbacks unable to practice at the Eddie Sutton Practice Court.
Arkansas Coach Eric Musselman post practice explained why sophomore center Jaylin Williams, sophomore guard KK Robinson, via Wichita State graduate transfer guard Trey Wade and eventually via University of Pittsburgh graduate transfer guard Au’Diese Toney were spectating instead of practicing.
“Jaylin’s got an aggravated old ankle injury,” Musselman said. “We’re taking it slow. He should be returning soon. Probably not in the next 10 days but soon after. Trey Wade injured his knee. It’s a tendon. Out four to six weeks but nonsurgical.”
Robinson still recovers from the broken bone in his foot that ended is 2020-21 season after 11 games.
“KK continues to have soreness working back into activity,” Musselman said. “The bone he had surgery on is fine but he’s missed a really good portion of what we’ve done over the last 12 weeks or whatever.”
“Toney’s is soreness in the knee,” Musselman said. “He did it today.”
Returning senior guard JD Notae is afflicted by an ankle injury though that has not slowed the scoring guard’s preseason conditioning.
“I would say that JD has transformed his body better than anybody since I’ve been at Arkansas,” Musselman said. “He’s done an incredible job. He comes in every single night and shoots, and he lifts weights on his own. I don’t know if I’ve ever been around a player that gets three to four lifts on his own at night after he’s already done a lift session with his teammates. I think he’s really, really focused to have a great year.”
Musselman said coming off their stunning Elite Eight season the Razorbacks had “a great summer,” of conditioning and workouts but the rash of injuries does alter practice plans.
“This next couple of weeks is going to set us back a little bit as far as the way we normally prepare over the last seven years,” Musselman said of his previous teams at Nevada and now his third team at Arkansas. “So I’m going to have to scale back some of the stuff that we do in preparation probably throughout the first two and a half weeks of October.”
Sophomore guards Devo Davis and Robinson and sophomore Williams, fourth-year junior center Connor Vanover and senior guard Notae are the lone returnees from last season’s 25-7 squad.
They are joined by transfer guard/fowards Wade, Toney, Stanley Umude, via the University of South Dakota, guard Chris Lykes via the University of Miami, guard Jaxon Robinson via Texas A&M, power forward Kamani Johnson via the University of Arkansas-Little Rock and one true freshman, guard Chance Moore of Brookhaven, Ga.
“ I would say that we have not unknowns as far as individual players with a lot of the new guys being known players in college basketball,” Musselman said. “But we have a lot of unknowns as far as combinations go.”
Umude, a versatile 6-6 and twice All-Summit League, fits several roles as Musselman expected.
He saw Umude score 13 points with eight rebounds for South Dakota when Arkansas beat USD, 77-56 in 2019.
“Just because of us playing against Stanley, we knew in preparation what a tough cover he was,” Musselman said. “That he was multi-level scorer, because he can shoot the three, he can put the ball on the bounce in isolations and he’s a really good post-up player. He’s got a really good mid-range isolation game off the elbows.”
Musselman said Umude knew much what to expect from Arkansas practices having played at South Dakota for Todd Lee, an assistant to Musselman during Eric’s head coaching in the CBA.
“So he’s probably been the one guy that’s by far been the best-coached coming in,” Musselman said of transfers knowing his system. “He knew a lot of the habits and a lot of the terminology that we use. So I think he’s had a little bit less of an adjustment maybe than some of the other new guys than a practice habits standpoint.”