Time in NBA helps Arkansas coaches with San Antonio guard


Richard Davenport

Published: Sunday, September 27, 2020

University of Arkansas basketball Coach Eric Musselman and his staff’s NBA experience has the attention of junior point guard Austin Nunez.

“They all have NBA experience, which can help the players they recruit get to the NBA faster,” Nunez said. “I would say that’s the goal for people my age. If you have coaches that have that experience, I think that helps a lot.”

Nunez, 6-2, 170 pounds, of San Antonio Wagner has scholarship offers from schools such as Arkansas, Texas, Baylor, Georgetown, LSU, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M, TCU and others.

In Addition to Musselman’s NBA background, associate head coach David Patrick was a scout for the Houston Rockets from 2010-12; assistant Corey Williams played with Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls in 1992-93 and the Minnesota Timberwolves in 1993-94; and assistant Clay Moser has an NBA resume that includes a stop with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Also, director of student-athlete development Earl Boykins played in the NBA for 13 years.

While talking to Arkansas, Nunez has learned a typical shot in high school is frowned upon in the NBA.

“In high school, I would say floaters are really good and in the NBA that’s a bad shot,” Nunez said. “That wasn’t something too surprising for me. I kind of knew the NBA didn’t like it much, but I didn’t think it would be considered a bad shot.”

The Hogs extended a scholarship to Nunez on Aug. 1. Patrick was the first coach to contact him.

“We’re in contact a lot,” Nunez said. “Just checking up on each other and seeing what each other is doing. I would say our relationship was built pretty fast. I would say more of his recruiting pitch hasn’t been like basketball, basketball. It’s been other aspects of life. That’s why I would say the connection has gotten closer faster.”

Nunez, who’s rated a 4-star prospect by two recruiting services, averaged 18 points, 6 assists and 2 steal a game for Cornerstone Christian as a sophomore.

He’s also in steady contact with Musselman.

“My relationship with him has gotten better,” Nunez said. “He texts me like once, twice a week. He’ll send me things like what the guys are doing and show me videos of what they’re doing in practice. What they’re trying to get their guards better at.”

His father, Lope Nunez, was the director for Under Armour-sponsored Texas Hardwork for the past 10 years. The program merged earlier this month with John Lucas’ JL3 Elite, an Nike EYBL program.

Having a father that’s knowledgeable about the game and the recruiting process has aided Nunez’s progress.

“I think it’s helped me add things to my game that college coaches are looking for,” Nunez said. “He would give me advice, and I would take it and apply it and I would say catch the college coaches eyes faster.”

Nunez hits the books as hard as he does the court. He has 3.7 grade-point average and is considering studying architecture in college.

He said he would probably make a decision about this time next year.

“I was planning to sign early,” Nunez said.

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