Arkansas recruited Motlow, Tenn., State guard Jaylen Barford back in high school and that may turn out to pay dividends now that he is a Junior College All-American.
Barford (6-4, 205), who led Jackson, Tenn., Southside to a state title his senior season, took his official visit this past weekend to Arkansas.
He had previously been to Missouri and still has planned visits to Louisville and Ole Miss.
“It helps out a lot because they never stopped recruiting me,” Barford said. “(Arkansas assistant) Coach (T.J.) Cleveland stayed on me even when he found out I had to go through my little stage. It really helps out a lot.”
Barford was also very impressed with some other things he saw during his time in Fayetteville.
“The coaching staff, just the community period, Bud Walton Arena and especially the Catfish Hole (restaurant),” Barford said of some of his highlights. “I had fun there.”
Barford also got a chance to hang out and test the rims in the new performance center.
“I actually love it,” Barford said. “It looks real good to be three weeks old. I liked it. I shot around a little bit.”
Barford is coming off a season in which he averaged 20.2 points, 7.1 rebounds and 5.1 assists last season and was an honorable mention All-American.
He is the only key player returning this season for Motlow, who opens up its season Oct. 30 playing the Kiwanis Classic in Vincennes, Ind.
“The experience is really just me coming back,” Barford said. “As far as sophomores, we have five of them and we have a lot of freshmen. We have a young team and I just have to lead my team and try to get a championship.”
Barford had previously listed a final five of Arkansas, Memphis, Missouri, Ole Miss and Xavier, but Louisville jumped into the mix in early September.
“I am still open,” Barford said. “I have taken a visit to Mizzou, next week I am going to go to Louisville and then I will take Ole Miss,” Barford said. “I am just taking it one day at a time.”
He sized up what he is looking for in a school.
“A system I can play in, a great coaching staff and a great community,” Barford said. “I just want to win.”
He plans to commit to a school in October, but not sign until the spring.
“After that Ole Miss visit, sometime around Oct. 20,” Barford said. “I am going to commit, but not sign. I am going to commit early.
“It is just wearing down on me and I am ready to get it over with and just focus on the season and school,” Barford said. “I won’t have to worry about it no more.”
He is being recruited by Arkansas as a point guard, but some schools see him as a combo guard.
“I think I can play point guard very well,” Barford said. “I pass the ball and get my teammates involved, but I also know that I can score as well. Where ever the coach wants to put me at I will play at.”