FAYETTEVILLE — No. 11 Arkansas basketball has been without its most highly touted newcomer for its first six games this season, but no longer. Freshman guard Nick Smith Jr. made his Arkansas debut on Monday against Troy, coming in off the bench about six minutes into the game.
Smith had been held out of Arkansas' early games for "right knee management." He was the Razorbacks' leading scorer in three of its six preseason exhibition games.
Smith, a product of North Little Rock High School, was the No. 1 player in the class of 2022. He was named preseason first-team All-SEC by media and coaches and preseason newcomer of the year by the USA Today Network. He is one of 50 players on the preseason watch list for the Wooden Award, which honors the top player in college basketball.
Coach Eric Musselman said Saturday that Smith had been steadily improving, and his workload in practice was growing. Smith was scheduled to be re-evaluated by doctors on Monday before the game against Troy.
Smith is one of three 2022 McDonald's All-Americans on the Razorbacks' roster, joining fellow freshmen Anthony Black and Jordan Walsh. The trio was a key part of Arkansas achieving the No. 2-ranked recruiting class in 2022, behind only Duke.
This article originally appeared on Fort Smith Times Record: Nick Smith Jr. makes Arkansas basketball debut vs. Troy