FAYETTEVILLE — What was supposed to be Eric Musselman’s season-wrapup press conference became the Arkansas basketball coach’s introduction to the Razorbacks’ latest added transfer.
Au’Diese Toney, a 6-6 3-year letterman wingman at the University of Pittsburgh recently putting his name in the transfer portal, has signed with Arkansas, Musselman confirmed during Thursday’s press conference after on Twitter posting: “Excited to welcome @thefuturetoney to our Razorback family. Can’t wait to get to work.”
Musselman had to delay the start of Thursday’s press conference to make sure Toney’s transfer paperwork was completed.
With two seasons eligibility since because of the season’s COVID-19 circumstances all 2020-2021 returning players retain their 2020-2021 eligibility for 2021-2022, Toney is described by Musselman as having the similar guard any position ability exemplified by Justin Smith, the 6-7 departing graduate transfer via Indiana University instrumental in helping Musselman’s surprising Hogs going 25-7 and all the way to the NCAA Elite Eight after finishing second in the SEC.
“He’s what I would consider a position-less basketball player,” Musselman, previously head coaching the University of Nevada before coaching Arkansas these past two seasons. “And if you look historically whether it was at Nevada or here, those position-less players that can play five positions are so, so valuable. You look at the success of (2018-2019 now in the NBA Razorbacks) Mason Jones and Isaiah Joe and I think this year Jalen Tate, Justin Smith, like, those guys that are in that 6-5 to 6-8 range that can play multiple positions.That’s what we think we’re getting with Au’Diese.”
Offensively, Toney improved each season at Pittsburgh averaging 7.5 points as a freshman, 9.5 points as a sophomore and 14.4 points and always rebounding well, 5.6, 4.9 and 5.9 averages.
“He can do a lot of things,” Musselman said. "Ability to make a three. Ability to beat people off the bounce. Ability to isolate.
A great transition player. It’s hard to get a proven player in a Power 5 conference.”
This season the Razorbacks added redshirting transfer forward Kamani Johnson from the University of Arkansas-Little Rock who activates for the 2021-2022 season after practicing with the team since January, and in November signed incoming freshman shooting guard Chance Moore of Powder Springs, Ga.
Musselman reconfirmed Thursday that graduate transfers Tate, the 6-6 starting point guard, Smith and forward Vance Jackson are moving on to turn professional.
It is assumed that All-American guard Moses Moody, predicted by NBA draft experts to be a lottery pick or certainly a first-round pick, will turn pro though Musselman said Thursday they haven’t discussed it upon Tuesday’s return from Monday’s Elite Eight loss to Baylor in Indianapolis.
“I have not talked to Moses or his father,” Musselman said. “I’m sure we’ll sit down at the right time. Whatever Moses and his family feel is in their best interest, I’m 1,000% in support. Our whole coaching staff is. He had an incredible year. Awesome young man to coach. Again, I’m assuming at the right time those conversations will take place.”
Musselman was asked to comment on Desi Sills, the guard from Jonesboro placing his name in the transfer portal after lettering first for former Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson’s 2018-2019 Razorbacks and the last two seasons for Musselman including 24 starts in 2019-2020 and key off the bench performances during the NCAA Tournament victories over Colgate, Texas Tech and Oral Roberts.
“First of all, Desi had two great years while we’ve been here, and obviously with Coach Anderson,” Musselman said. “We wish him nothing but the best. Big part of our culture and helped build it, and had a lot of different roles for us. We want nothing but the best for him.”
Musselman was asked if any other Razorbacks might be considering the transfer portal.
“Regarding the portal, I mean, I’m not sure in any sport if anybody knows what is going to happen from day to day,” Musselman said. “All you need to do is look at what has gone on in our own conference and look across the board in college basketball. I think it’s just kind of the nature of where college hoops is right now.”
Meanwhile he’ll scan the portal for potential transfers adding to a core of returning freshman starters Davonte “Devo” Davis and Jaylin Williams and lettermen Connor Vanover, Ethan Henderson, and Khalen “KK” Robinson, the freshman guard whose season was terminated by a broken foot.
“We’re going to have to add to our roster now,” Musselman said. “We have some spots open, and we’re going to recruit really, really hard.”