Eric Musselman went back to the transfer portal on Wednesday, landing New Mexico guard Vance Jackson as a grad transfer. Jackson will have one year of eligibility.
Jackson will take the scholarship of his fellow former New Mexico Lobo, Jalen Harris, who is leaving the program to grad transfer himself. He’s a former 4-star recruit who started his career at UConn, leaving when the Kevin Ollie era turned sour. After two strong seasons at New Mexico, he’s ready to finally meet his four-star potential at a major program. This signing is pretty consistent with Musselman’s strategy of taking in high-potential players who have transferred more than once and helping them become their best.
This signing makes quite a bit of sense for the Hogs. Jackson’s most striking feature is his height — 6-foot-9 — and that will be needed on a team that just lost its only guard taller than 6’4 (Mason Jones). Jackson has averaged 11 points and 13 points over his last two seasons. He’s a decent jump shooter — about 34% from beyond the arc — but he can really pitch in with rebounding, where he’s averaged 5.0 and 7.3 boards per season over the last two years. He regressed a little in 2020, but still put up solid numbers for New Mexico.
He’s certainly capable of dominating. In a game against Fresno State earlier this year, he scored 29 points and snagged 13 rebounds.
The signing of a 6’9 guard may allow Musselman to play more four-guard lineups in 2021. Take a look at this potential group:
- C (5): Connor Vanover 7’3 OR Jaylin Williams 6’10
- G (4): Vance Jackson 6’9
- CG (3): Moses Moody 6’5 OR Desi Sills 6’2
- SG (2): Isaiah Joe 6’4 OR Desi Sills 6’2
- PG (1): JD Notae OR KK Robinson OR Davonte Davis
That lineup has enough height to compete with taller teams, but enough shooting and ballhandling to create matchup problems. It also allows the Hogs to be less reliant on forwards Reggie Chaney and Ethan Henderson, who have been solid for stretches but inconsistent during their time on the Hill.
When not in a four-guard lineup, Jackson would likely compete with Moody for minutes on the wing.
Arkansas’ search for grad transfers probably isn’t over. The Hogs may try to land a power forward with their final scholarship. Some of their potential targets — like nation’s leading rebounder Kevin Marfo — are now off the table, so it will be interesting to see what Musselman and staff decide to do.