Busting Brackets

Arkansas Basketball under John Calipari racking up new recruits for upcoming season

John Calipari inherits an Arkansas basketball program with literally no current roster and has turned to his recruiting relationships to bring in both incoming freshmen and transfers to start building the nucleus of the 2024-25 season.
Florida v Arkansas Game Two
Florida v Arkansas Game Two / Wesley Hitt/GettyImages

Regardless of whether you're a John Calipari fan or not, the reality is this: he can recruit players like nobody else in men's college basketball. With a sub-par 203-24 basketball season behind them, the Razorback men's program has turned to no less than Coach Cal to rebuild this team and inject competitiveness back into what has become an SEC-has been team. The challenges that John Calipari faces are enormous given the fact that the University of Arkansas certainly is not the Kentucky Wildcats and the levels of expectation are different. Nevertheless, Arkansas has a proud basketball tradition of its own (thank you Coach Nolan Richardson) and one of the essential keys that Coach Cal needs to instill in Fayetteville is a winning tradition and that starts with successful recruiting right out of the gate.

John Calipari made a career at Kentucky being able to bring in a string of successful freshman recuiting classes and build his program out of young players, a number of whom who eventually found their way to the NBA. Again, the transient nature of the transfer portal and coach hirings and firings place even a greater emphasis on recruiting relationships and Coach Cal already has a commitment from incoming freshman Johnuel "Boogie" Fland as he changed his commitment from Kentucky to Arkansas this past week.

Fland is one of the best shooters in the class of 2024 and the 6'2' combo guard was recently honored as a McDonald's High School All-American player. Fland averaged 19.3 points, 6.6 rebounds and 3.6 assists this past season in White Plains, NY and signed his National Letter of Intent as a big recruiting win for John Calipari.

Coach Cal added another player to the growing Arkansas roster when he signed incoming freshman Karter Knox to come to Fayetteville as well. Knox was originally a UK commit but of course that was when John Calipari was at Kentucky. Knox, the younger brother of NBA player Kevin Knox, is a solid 6'5" wing who brings a top-notch shooting ability with him and was ranked at the 19th best high school player in the country this past season. Adding the freshman class is 6'6" Billy Richmond who averaged 17.6 points, 7.4 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 46 total blocked shots and 44 total steals during his senior season.

While John Calipari has made most of his recruiting headlines over the years targeting incoming freshman players, the reality of life for Arkansas basketball dictates that Coach Cal needs to balance young players with veteran talent and Calipari got his first transfer commitment from one of his former players in the form of big man Zvonimir Ivisic. Ivisic is a 7'2" sophomore and only got into 15 games at UK last season where he averaged 5.5 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.3 blocked shots per game. With a change in scenery, Ivisic may develop quickly into a key player for the Razorbacks while under Calipari's tutelage.

Next. Latest transfer portal commit rankings of the week. Latest transfer portal commit rankings of the week. dark

The reality that John Calipari is facing is daunting in terms of rebuilding the Arkansas men's basketball program. It's no secret that every player from last season has either used up all of their playing eligibility, entered the transfer portal, or declared themselves for the upcoming NBA draft. The tasks that Coach Cal faces in putting together a roster for next season are not particular to the University of Arkansas but every new head coach in Division One basketball faces the same challenges of building and keeping players together from season to season.