Arkansas Razorbacks Eric Musselman gives latest on Isaiah Joe's decision, timeline for 2020 NBA Draft
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Musselman gives latest on Isaiah Joe's decision, timeline for NBA Draft

Isaiah Joe is one of the most prolific three-point shooters in Arkansas history.
Isaiah Joe is one of the most prolific three-point shooters in Arkansas history. (Nick Wenger)

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FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas will learn whether or not Isaiah Joe plans to remain in this year’s NBA Draft within the next month.

The sharpshooter from Fort Smith has until Aug. 3 to pull his name out of the draft and return for his junior season with the Razorbacks, but he is already back in Fayetteville and going through voluntary workouts.

Although Joe has missed a handful of Zoom meetings at Arkansas because they’ve conflicted with NBA interviews, head coach Eric Musselman praised him for being a great teammate throughout the process even as he mulls his future.

“I don’t really know what Isaiah and the Joe family, what their timeline will be,” Musselman said. “I think that a lot of guys have been doing Zoom interviews. Those are going to start tapering down…and they’ve already started tapering down in the last week, and it’ll continue to go in a slower pattern.”

Musselman said those NBA interviews would probably start ramping back up in August, after the deadline passes and the draft pool is set. The actual NBA Draft is scheduled for Oct. 16.

At this point, more than two months after he announced he would test the waters, Joe and Musselman don’t really talk about the decision much any more because they’ve exhausted those conversations.

“I don’t know much more we can do,” Musselman said. “We put together a pretty extensive book when the process was beginning and we gave some of our feedback. We continue to give feedback.”

Hays Myers, the special assistant to the head coach, has been keeping a running tab of Joe’s interviews so Musselman or another member of Arkansas staff can follow up with the team to get feedback to pass along to Joe and his father, Derrick.

Most mock drafts and prospect rankings have Joe in the second-round range.

“Just as I’ve stated in the past, we’re just here to support Isaiah, here to support and facilitate any of these Zoom interviews as we possibly can,” Musselman said. “I’ve said it (before), we’ve got two different depth charts and two different game plans, and until we find out one way or the other, we’ll just keep proceeding one team with him and one team without him.”

The deadline for underclassmen to withdraw from the draft and return to school was originally set for June 3, but it was pushed back a couple of months in response to the coronavirus pandemic, which also postponed the draft by nearly four months.

Arkansas is currently at the 13-man scholarship limit with Joe, but if he decides to remain in the draft, the Razorbacks will have an open spot. With the new deadline so close to the start of school, it is difficult for Musselman to finalize his roster.

“It was challenging at Nevada with the original date, really challenging when you try to put together a roster,” Musselman said. “So I think when you go through those situations, you grow as a coach, you grow in your approach, which is why right now we have two different scenarios.”

Despite the challenges created by pandemic, Musselman said his staff has been focused on helping Joe and Mason Jones - who has already signed with an agent and can’t return to school - as much as they can.

“We are going about our business, we’re trying to help those two guys reach their dream and then whenever the decision’s made either way - either to come back or continue to pursue that - then your team takes on a different look,” Musselman said. “I didn’t make the rules, Isaiah didn’t make the rules, the NBA made the rules - and the NCAA - on what that date is, so if somebody gives you a rule, you just kind of roll with it and you make the best of it.”