Little Rock native and California transfer Connor Vanover is coming home to finish his college career after announcing plans Wednesday to transfer to the University of Arkansas.
Vanover, 7-3, 225 pounds, officially visited Arkansas Thursday through Saturday of last week after visiting Vanderbilt earlier. He also considered staying at California.
Coach Eric Musselman was a major part of his decision to become a Razorback.
“I think the biggest thing, it’s always about coaching and fitting into the right system, but also player development,” Vanover said. “I feel like being with coach Musselman, his personality, he’s very passionate about his players and basketball, and he always wants his players to be the best they can be.”
He played at Baptist Prep for three seasons and recorded more than 1,000 points, 700 rebounds and 300 blocks with the Eagles before attending Findlay Prep in Nevada as a senior.
Vanover signed with the Bears in 2018 and averaged 6.8 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1 blocked shot in 16.4 minutes as a freshman. He finished the season strong by averaging 12.8 points and 2.4 blocked shots while shooting 50 percent from the field and 41 percent from beyond the three-point line in the final five games of the season.
He told Musselman he wanted to be a Hog while watching the Arkansas-LSU baseball game on Friday night during his visit with his family.
“The first day was amazing, and they showed me a lot of really great things, and we said, ‘Well, if they keep this up this might be the place,’” Vanover said. “They blew us away again on the second day. We went back to our hotel room before the baseball game and we were like, ‘Yeah, this is like the clear-cut best place to go to.’ So we told him (Musselman) at the baseball game.”
His family has strong ties to Arkansas. His mother, Robyn, played basketball for Arkansas and was a three-year letterman from 1987-89. His uncle, Terry Irwin, played football for the Hogs.
“Being able to come back home and being able to play where my mom played, it’s just a special thing,” Vanover said. “Our whole family is pretty excited. She’s very excited.”
He’ll be reunited with Razorback forward Reggie Chaney, who was his teammate at Findlay Prep. Musselman is expected to take advantage of Vanover’s versatility to score inside-out.
“He wants me to be very versatile,” Vanover said. “He wants me to help space the floor out so we can have five guys out on the perimeter at times. I can be inside. He wants me at the high post, be able to pass. Just do anything that needs to be done.”
Vanover, who plans to report to Fayetteville on May 28, enjoyed seeing the Razorback fans on Twitter embrace his homecoming.
“I would say 95 percent of the people are excited,” Vanover said. “I think it’s pretty cool to have the hometown people getting back behind me because it felt kind of distant being far away, but seeing all the support for coming home is kind of amazing.”
He’ll have three years of eligibility left and will have to sit out next season unless granted a waiver by the NCAA. He should have a good case with his grandmother being ill.
“My grandma was moved to a nursing home this year so it’s been hard with her,” Vanover said.