University of Arkansas coach Eric Musselman has landed former Miami guard and grad transfer Chris Lykes, who announced plans to transfer to Fayetteville on Wednesday.
Lykes, 5-7, 160 pounds, narrowed his list to Arkansas and Southern Cal before selecting the Razorbacks. He is the No. 6 transfer available, according to Busting Brackets, and The Athletic lists him at No. 30.
He only played in two games as a senior after suffering an ankle injury that sidelined him after being a preseason first team All-ACC selection.
Musselman’s NBA background and ability to develop players along with having Earl Boykins, who at 5-foot-5 played 13 years in the NBA, on staff as director of student-athlete development helped seal the deal with Lykes.
“What stuck with me was his resume,” said Lykes of Musselman. “He’s been in the league. He’s coached guys my size. He’s kind of my size as well, so my goal is to get to the NBA, and from what I was hearing from the scouts is because I didn’t play this year it would be tough for me to really make a name for myself. Going back to college would be important for me.”
Arkansas’ success in the NCAA tournament and its Elite Eight appearance helped the Razorbacks’ cause.
“I’m not going to lie, as soon as I entered the portal and Arkansas called my phone, I started doing research,” Lykes said. “I didn’t know much about the SEC. I’ve been in the ACC for four years. I started doing my research and everything is beneficial to what I’m trying to do. It just seemed like the perfect fit.”
Musselman was thrilled with the addition of Lykes.
“Chris is a proven, dynamic guard who has excelled in the ACC,” Musselman said in a statement announcing the transfer. “He has the ability to score and get his teammates involved. We like how he attacks the paint and gets to the free throw line. He also has shown great leadership. We are very excited to have Chris join our program and our fans will enjoy watching him play.”
Lykes started 24 of 26 games as a junior and averaged a team high 15.4 points, 2.4 assists and 1.1 steals per game. He shot 43.2% from the field, 38% from the three-point line and 81.4% at the free throw line.
A former ESPN 4-star prospect out of Bowie (Md.) Gonzaga College High School, Lykes initially picked the Hurricanes over Villanova, Georgetown, Virginia, North Carolina State, Notre Dame and other programs in 2017. ESPN also rated him the No. 12 point guard and No. 48 overall recruit in the nation.
“I have evaluated Chris Lykes since his high school days and have called a few of his games at Miami,” ESPN national recruiting director Paul Biancardi said. “Lykes is a dynamic scoring point guard. He finds the arc in transition and has both the confidence and skill to make quick threes.
“In the halfcourt Lykes can navigate well in ballscreens as a shooter, behind the screen or as a playmaker to create for others as he can get into the paint. He needs to utilize his size and pressure the ball in the backcourt more often and with great intensity. (He's) a battle-tested guard and a tough-minded player.”
A two-time All-ACC academic selection, Lykes started all 32 games as a sophomore and averaged 16.2 points and scored in double figures in 27 games, including 10 with 20 or more points - six in conference action.
He also averaged 3.2 assists, 2.6 rebounds and 1.3 steals while shooting 40.6% from the field, 31.7% from three-point range and 78% at the line.
Musselman and his staff’s desire for Lykes to be a Razorback was strong.
“He just said, 'We need you,'” Lykes said. “I remember that clearly, and it wasn't just him. It was the whole coaching staff. Virtual recruiting, I think they did the best job possible.”
Lykes started in 10 games and played in all 32 games as a freshman. He averaged 9.6 points during the regular season and 11.9 points in conference play. Lykes was a one-time ACC rookie of the week.
He also finished with 2.3 assists per game, shot 40.1% from the floor, 34.5% from three and 71.9% from the free throw line.
Lykes is the second transfer to announce plans to play for Musselman this spring. Former Pittsburgh guard/forward Au’Diese Toney announced his transfer to Arkansas last week.
With forward Ethan Henderson joining guard Desi Sills in the NCAA transfer portal on Wednesday, Arkansas currently has eight players on scholarship, including guard Moses Moody, who is a candidate to enter the upcoming NBA draft.
The Razorbacks signed forward Akol Mawein and guard Chance Moore in November. With the additions of Lykes and Toney, Arkansas is up to 12 scholarship players who could be on campus this summer if no other player enters the portal.
Musselman and his staff continue to recruit other transfers and could add more players to the roster.