By Kevin McPherson
LITTLE ROCK – The centerpieces of the Arkansas Razorbacks’ No. 2 National Recruiting Class of 2022, Nick Smith, Jr.and Jordan Walchwill team up with Team West in the annual McDonald’s All American game to be played in Chicago on Tuesday.
Black-smith (6-5 combo guard, North Little Rock, Top 5/5-Star National Prospect, Naismith First Team All American) is fresh off leading the charging Wildcats to a 6A state title, and McDonald’s game is the first of at least three postseason events he will compete in the spring before moving to the Arkansas campus in early June.
“What’s to come is really big for me,” Smith told Hogville.net in a recent interview. “Stay in the gym, stay tight on the ball, and stay in shape for the McDonald’s game, Jordan Brand Classic and Nike Summit Hoops.
“Going out and playing with top players, and showing that I’m one of the top guys, top five in the country. Just going out there to have fun and compete at the same time, that’s basically what it boils down to.
Walsh (6-7 combo forward, Link Academy at Branson Missouri, ESPN National No. 10/5-Star prospect) will join Smith in both the McDonald’s Game and the Jordan Brand Classic All-Star Game (April 20 in Las Vegas). Between those events, Smith will compete in the Nike Hoops Summit game against international competition as part of the 12-member United States Junior National Basketball Team (April 8 in Portland, Oregon).
Smith and Walsh are scheduled to arrive in Chicago this weekend ahead of McDonald’s game on Tuesday. A source has confirmed Walsh will be competing in the Powerade Jamfest contest on Monday.
A third recruiting target in Arkansas – Anthony Black (6-7 combo forward, Duncanville, Texas, 247Sports National No. 14/5-Star prospect, all American McDonald’s) — Will announce his decision after high school Monday of a handful of options that includes the Hogs. It’s a day before the McDonald’s game. Black is also part of the West team.
Before Smith and Walsh formed the same McDonald’s All American team, it had been nine years since the Razorbacks last had an incoming rookie on the McDonald’s team, and 34 years since the program last had two incoming rookies. who had received the same honor in the same season.
The last time Arkansas had All American McDonald’s join its high school program was in 2013 when top national 20/5 star prospect Bobby Portis of Little Rock Hall was selected and competed in the event before the completing his high school requirements and moving to the Arkansas campus a few months later. And the only other time the Hoop Hogs’ program has two incoming rookies doing the same was in the 1988 All American McDonald’s team when top 20 national prospects Todd Day and Lee Mayberry made the team and competed in the game ’88.
Portis, Day and Mayberry along with Corliss Williamson, Joe Kleine, Andrew Lang, Ron Huery, Derek Hood, Kareem Reid, Darnell Robinson, Olu Famutimi, Ricky Norton, Willie Cutts and Glendon Alexander were the former Hogs to be honored as McDonald’s All Americans before playing in Arkansas and many of them eventually had long careers in the NBA.
Smith is only the sixth Arkansan native to both sign with the Hogs and make this All American McDonald’s short list as he joins Portis, Williamson (Russellville), Lang (Pine Bluff), Cutts (Bryant) and Norton (Okalona).
Smith and Walsh are joined in the 2022 Hogs 5-man draft by ESPN Top 100 / 4-star prospects Derrian Ford, Joseph Pignonand Barry Dunning, Jr.. Here is a link to the prospect analysis, scouting reports, byline articles, zoom interviews and game highlights from all five players: https://forums.hogville.net/index.php?topic=735857.0