Joe Gone But The Cupboard Far From Bare
Arkansas shooting guard Isaiah Joe, who was set to return for his junior year after withdrawing on August 1st from the 2020 NBA draft, has re-declared once again.
Joe cited COVID-19 concerns as well as the uncertainties that loomed with the upcoming 2020-2021 season as to why he chose to re-enter the draft. Joe said, “Due to the COVID-19 virus and the unprecedented cancellation of fall sports by several major college conferences in the past week, I believe it is in my best interest to forego the remainder of my college eligibility. . .”
Joe’s decision came in sync with the last day of the NBA’s draft decision deadline for underclassmen, August 17th. Joe, who was known for his sharp-shooting prowess, will also be missed on the defensive end of the court where he was as sturdy of a defender the Razorbacks had last season. In Joe’s sophomore season for Arkansas, he averaged 16.9 points, 4.1 rebounds, 1.7 assists, and 1.5 steals per game. Joe’s field goal percentage was 36%, while shooting 34% from behind the three-point line.
Coach Eric Musselman had been vocal about how Joe would have been bringing stability to a team that is bringing on 10 new scholarship players this season. With that being said, Musselman also had explained that the Hogs would not have just been simply relying on Joe to do everything, as he has confidence in the potential production of the other members in his new look bunch. With Isaiah Joe’s fantastic career for the Hogs in the rearview mirror now, it is time to look at who will replace Joe’s production and what the starting line-up may look like for the 2020-2021 season.
Top 50 recruit and true freshman wing Moses Moody, who has been having a highlight filled camp thus far, seems poised to step up and help relieve the blow of losing Joe. As good of a Freshman season Joe had for the Razorbacks, I believe Moody has the ability to equal that production, if not exceed it. That is not limited to scoring either. Moody was more so known for his shooting coming out of high school, but has been showing his high flying abilities in fall camp for the Razorbacks. The Razorback basketball social media sites have shown Moody’s athleticism with video highlights of him dunking on defenders on multiple occasions. Moody also has the intangibles to be a great defender too, which he proved to be in high school at Montverde Academy against some of the best competition in the nation. Moody has a seven foot plus wingspan that will show to be an advantage at times both offensively, and especially defensively. There are multiple good reasons why Moody is projected to be a 2021 first round pick by multiple NBA draft sites, but that is not to guarantee he will leave or stay after his freshman year with the Hogs.
I see Moody starting at the small forward spot this season. I believe the Razorback backcourt will be featuring junior guard J.D. Notae at the shooting guard spot. Notae averaged 15.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and 1.7 steals in two years at Jacksonville State before transferring to Arkansas and sitting out for the 2019-2020 season. Notae should provide a scoring punch to help ease the loss of Joe as well.
To round out the backcourt, I believe true freshman point guard Khalen “KK” Robinson will get the nod for the Hogs at point guard. Robinson was a top 100 recruit and is expected to bring great vision and IQ to the point guard position.
In my opinion, the Razorback frontcourt will see Little Rock native and California transfer Connor Vanover at the center position. At 7’3”, sophomore Vanover will be the tallest Razorback basketball player in the history of the program. Vanover can stretch the floor and shoot at will from behind the three-point line, something Coach Musselman will covet and use to the Razorbacks’ advantage. Beside Vanover, I expect to see Indiana grad-transfer forward Justin Smith at power forward. Smith can jump out of the gym and I expect him to be a versatile, if not the most versatile defensive player Coach Musselman has on his 2020-2021 roster. I am certain that Smith will throw down his fair share of dunks and alley oops as well.
I see junior guard Desi Sills being the Hogs sixth man, where he has thrived in previous roles off the bench. Statistically, he has been a completely different force coming off the bench in comparison to when he starts. Being the Razorbacks’ returning leading scorer, he too will prove to be valuable in helping relieve the loss of Joe. The future is still bright in the post-Joe era, especially with Musselman and company at the helm. The Hogs will probably drop a couple seeds to the 10 seed line in bracketology updates in the pre-season, but they should not be discounted completely at all.