2022 Arkansas Men's Basketball Foreign Tour - Lake Como, Day 1

Arkansas Frosh Phenoms Start European Tour With A Bang

Arkansas Frosh Phenoms Start European Tour With A Bang

Arkansas opened its European tour with a pair of wins and some standout performances from the highly touted group.

Aug 12, 2022 by Kyle Kensing
Arkansas Frosh Phenoms Start European Tour With A Bang

Five-star freshmen Anthony Black, Nick Smith Jr. and Jordan Walsh played their first two games in Arkansas Razorbacks jerseys, and the early returns from Europe match the hype. 

Arkansas opened its tour of Spain and Italy Aug. 9 in emphatic fashion, destroying host Valencia Seleccion, 108-59. As far as debut performances go, it couldn't have been much better for a new-look Razorbacks roster as a whole, or for Smith individually. 

The nation's No. 3-rated prospect in the 2022 signing class went for 21 points while shooting 50 percent from 3-point range, grabbed five rebounds, dished six assists. 

Although the stat line speaks to Smith's all-around versatility, it doesn't do his game justice. Attacking the rim off the dribble, banging in the paint and taking the long-range shot when presented. Oh, and he can get up, too. 

Walsh and Black also delivered outstanding all-around performances against Valencia Seleccion. Walsh went for nine points, five rebounds, four assists and blocked a pair of shots. Black added eight points, seven assists and five boards. 

The Razorbacks faced considerably more resistance in the tour's second outing, Aug. 11 against Catalan Elite in Barcelona. 

A second-quarter rally buoyed Arkansas after it fell behind early. Catalan Elite remained competitive through the second half, but the Razorbacks did enough to keep the hosts at arm's length — including Smith knocking down a James Harden-like step-back 3-pointer in the third quarter that opened up a 12-point Arkansas lead. 

But while the trio of blue-chippers Smith, Black and Walsh commanded the headlines since each signed to Eric Musselman's program, Thursday's win served as a reminder that there's plenty more to the freshman corps. 

Musselman singled out the performance of Barry Dunning Jr., the 4-star wing from Mobile, Alabama, calling him "extremely serious about his craft" during Thursday's postgame press conference.  

"Two games in a row as well as in training camp that Barry has played really, really solid," Musselman said. "And one of the things [as] a coaching staff [is] who do you trust to go out there and not turn the ball over, and then to execute the game plan on both sides of the ball? 

"Surprisingly, for a freshman, Barry Dunning's done a really, really good job of that." 

Dunning's protection of the ball stood out particularly against Catalan Elite when the Razorbacks committed 23 turnovers. 

For as much talent as Arkansas boasts up and down the lineup, the European tour is still the first time essentially this entire group has played together in a competitive format. The rough spots that crop up on the remaining dates of the tour, as the Razorbacks head to Lake Como in Italy, will become points of emphasis heading into November.