In front of a standing room only crowd at Arkansas Fitness and Athletics on Wednesday, Nick Smith Jr. announced that he would be staying home, making his college commitment to the University of Arkansas.
The Bradley Beal Elite standout and Sylvan Hills High star, ranked as a Top 10 prospect in the nation by various recruiting service, chose Arkansas over dozens of other offers, pointing directly to what coach Eric Musselman is building with the program. In his second year as coach of the Razorbacks last season, Musselman guided them to a 25-7 mark, and their first Elite Eight appearance since 1995.
“If you know Muss, you know Muss is a competitor,” Nick told Richard Davenport of WholeHogSports.com. “He does not like to lose. That’s a gene I have. I don’t like losing and I know for a fact he’s going to push me each and every day. He’s going to push his team. The season they had last year was a great season, but his competitive drive really got to me.”
let’s work pic.twitter.com/i9YeDAg177
— Nick Smith Jr (@ntsmith1402) September 30, 2021
Five-star guard @ntsmith1402 has committed to @RazorbackMBB to play for @EricPMusselman! 🤩 pic.twitter.com/0m0Xx4clpH
— FOX College Hoops (@CBBonFOX) September 30, 2021
BBE alum Moses Moody, who was drafted 14th overall in the 2021 NBA Draft by the Golden State Warriors, followed a similar path through the state of Arkansas, to UA, and helped launch them into title contention last season. Nick is excited to carry on that legacy.
“Moses was really highly rated coming in but he wasn’t like on anybody’s lottery draft boards I don’t think, in the preseason,” Smith said. “Seeing what he did is something I can relate to.”
Ultimately Nick waded through more than two dozen offers to narrow his list down to four: Arkansas, Alabama, Auburn and another local school, Arkansas Pine Bluff.
“My family is going to support me wherever I go,” he said. “My dad and mom, it was a no-brainer for them. I just wanted to make sure, but Arkansas was the best opportunity for me. After I got done talking with my family about it, I’m more comfortable putting it out public. I knew for a fact it was the right choice for me.”
Nick took his official visit to Arkansas last month and was blown away by the support he received and the way Musselman and the Arkansas coach staff prepared for him.
“He has been recruiting me hard since the ninth grade,” he told ESPN.com. “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.”
The connection between the Arkansas coach and his players appears to run deep. Musselman’s wife even posted a video on Twitter of their family and staff watching and reacting Nick’s announcement.
— Danyelle Musselman (@DanyelleSargent) September 30, 2021
Nick also believes as the top recruit out of the state, and Arkansas’s highest-rated commitment since recruiting services started logging rankings, he can help pave a new path through the state of Arkansas.
Community means a lot to the Smith family, and they also used the stage of his big announcement to give back.
Moments before 5 Star Nick Smith Jr. made his commitment announcement to the Arkansas Razorbacks, he along with his Dad-Nick Smith Sr. & family made a memorable contribution of backpacks and shoes to the lives of 15 deserving youth. #WooPigSooie @ntsmith1402 @PaulBiancardi pic.twitter.com/X6BWFWpAhk
— Kevin Miller (@big73miller) September 30, 2021
“My reputation is everything,” he said. “I just wanted to prove you can stay in the state and do what other people are doing.”