Razorbacks Are Current Leader For Kouassi

Arkansas is now the leader in the clubhouse for Kennesaw State graduate transfer center Willy Kouassi (6-10, 233) according to his guardian and former AAU coach Darien Knox, who joined Kouassi on his official visit to check out the Razorbacks this weekend.

On a weekend when American Pharoah made history by becoming the first thoroughbred to win the Triple Crown in 37 years, Kennesaw State graduate transfer Willy Kouassi now has a leader coming down the stretch and it’s just a two-horse race.

Kouassi (6-10, 233) – a defensive-minded former Auburn player who will be immediately eligible next season – took an official visit to Arkansas this weekend along with his guardian and former AAU coach Darien Knox.

“The visit was an A-plus,” Knox said. “We really got to see the passion of the fans with the baseball this weekend. Neither he or I had ever seen as many people at a baseball game like that and they love Arkansas so much.

“Willy also got a chance to see the team and see not only do they want him, but they have a big need for him. He will be their biggest player and their longest one and he really loves being around the guys on the team.

“He also got to be around the coaches more and was very impressed with their sincerity and humbleness and how genuine they are.

“Another thing is the new practice facility of theirs. It is amazing. I’ve been to a lot of them in the SEC and I have to think Arkansas’ new one is the best in the country. That’s important for development.

“There is no doubt whatsoever that Arkansas is the leader in the clubhouse. In fact, we are going to take a visit to BYU this next weekend and then get this over.

“He had some other really good schools recruiting him and took some visits, but Arkansas just overwhelmed. So it is only going to be Arkansas and BYU and that’s it now.”

Kouassi, an Ivory Coast native and the Atlantic Sun Conference Defensive Player of the Year last season, also considered Memphis, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Ole Miss, Western Kentucky, North Texas and Rhode Island.

Kouassi, a former high school teammate of current Razorback senior Jacorey Williams and someone with a 7-3 wing span, set a Kennsaw State career blocks record by swatting away 75 shots the past two seasons.

He averaged 4.4 points, 5.0 rebounds and 1.3 blocks for Kennesaw State last season while playing 19.2 minutes per game after averaging 4.6 points and 4.2 rebounds the previous season.

He shot just over 50 percent from the field (107-of-213) from the field during those two seasons, but less than 50 percent from the free throw line (52-of-117).

“That is the biggest thing he will bring to Arkansas is keeping people from getting to the rim,” Knox said. “He’ll also be able to score more than he has because he will be playing with higher-level players and in a system that will allow him to run the floor, which he really does well.”

Kouassi was a four-star prospect and top 100 player out of Birmingham, Ala., Central Park Christian Academy where he averaged 14 points, 15 rebounds and 3.5 blocks per game his senior season.

He chose Auburn out of high school over Florida, Memphis, Georgia, Missouri, Pittsburgh, Georgia Tech, Ole Miss, Vanderbilt, Nebraska and Alabama among others.

He played in 25 games as a freshman at Auburn while averaging 1.5 points, 2.6 rebounds and 0.6 blocks in an average of 10.2 minutes per game.

Kouassi did not play in either of Auburn’s two losses to Arkansas during the 2011-2012 season.

He then transferred to Kennesaw State, sit out a season and had to endure a 16-47 and two head coaches in as many seasons.

“He wants to be at a place like Arkansas that has a tradition of winning in this last year of his college career,” Knox said. “It just looks like a perfect fit on and off the court to me.”

Willy Kouassi drives in a game against Syracuse last season.

Kouassi rejects a shot of Alabama's JyMychal Green during his freshman season at Auburn.

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