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Arkansas tabs Nevada’s Eric Musselman as next coach

By JOHN MARSHALLApril 7, 2019
FILE - In this Jan. 5, 2019, file photo, Nevada coach Eric Musselman gives instructions to his players from the sideline during the second half of the team's NCAA college basketball game against New Mexico in Albuquerque, N.M. Arkansas has hired Musselman as its next men’s basketball coach. Razorbacks athletic director Hunter Yurachek announced Musselman’s hiring Sunday, April 7, on Twitter. (AP Photo/Andres Leighton, File)
FILE - In this Jan. 5, 2019, file photo, Nevada coach Eric Musselman gives instructions to his players from the sideline during the second half of the team's NCAA college basketball game against New Mexico in Albuquerque, N.M. Arkansas has hired Musselman as its next men’s basketball coach. Razorbacks athletic director Hunter Yurachek announced Musselman’s hiring Sunday, April 7, on Twitter. (AP Photo/Andres Leighton, File)

Arkansas hired Nevada’s Eric Musselman on Sunday, hoping to get a once-proud program back to an elite level.

The 54-year-old Musselman led a dramatic turnaround in Reno, leading the Wolf Pack to three NCAA Tournaments in four years after a nine-year absence. Nevada reached the Sweet 16 in 2018, but lost in the first round to Florida this year.

“I am excited to officially announce the hiring of Eric Musselman as our new Head Coach for @RazorbackMBB,” athletic director Hunter Yurachek said on Twitter. “And to welcome his wife Danyelle, their daughter Mariah and sons, Matthew and Michael to the Arkansas Razorback Family. #OneRazorback.”

The son of a former coach, Musselman has had a well-traveled career. He coached the Sacramento Kings and Golden State Warriors in the NBA, had stints in the CBA and D-League, and assistant jobs in the NBA and college.

Musselman went 110-34 at Nevada.

“These past four years at University of Nevada have been unforgettable,” he tweeted . “Thank you Northern Nevada and Wolf Pack nation!”

Musselman replaces Mike Anderson, who was fired last month after eight seasons. He went 169-102 and made five postseason tournaments — three trips to the NCAAs and two in the NIT — but Yurachek said it wasn’t good enough when he fired Anderson on March 26.

Arkansas went 18-16 this past season and reached the second round of the NIT. The Razorbacks’ season ended with a loss to Indiana.

Musselman takes over a team with plenty of experience, but star forward Daniel Gafford won’t be among them after declaring for the NBA draft.

Gafford was the only player in the SEC in the top five in scoring (16.9 points per game) and rebounding (8.7 rpg) last season. In two years at Arkansas, he averaged 14.3 points and 7.4 rebounds, shot 63.5% from the field and blocked 141 shots. The 6-foot-11 first-team all-SEC pick could have left last year but returned. Anderson said he believes Gafford will be a first-round draft pick.

Guard Isaiah Joe is expected to return after averaging 13.9 points and shooting 41.4% from 3-point range as a freshman. Mason Jones averaged 13.6 points this past season as a sophomore and another guard, Jalen Harris, averaged 5.4 assists as a sophomore. The guards fueled a squad that averaged 75.3 points per game.

Arkansas still is trying to get back to the level established by Hall of Fame coach Nolan Richardson, who will have the court at Bud Walton named for him this fall. He led Arkansas to 13 NCAA Tournament appearances and the 1994 national title.

Arkansas also was the national runner-up in 1995 and won five conference championships under Richardson, who set school records with 389 wins and a winning percentage of .697 (389-169).

“With our great history and tradition, a loyal fan base and a fully supported program within the SEC, I am confident that we will identify a leader that will elevate our men’s basketball program to a nationally competitive level on an annual basis,” Yurachek said,” Yurachek said in a statement after firing Anderson.

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AP Sports Writer Cliff Brunt contributed to this report.

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