FAYETTEVILLE — The University of Arkansas men’s basketball team is among six from the SEC that will play in foreign countries this summer.
The Razorbacks will take an 11-day trip to Spain and Italy from Aug. 6-16 and play four exhibition games.
NCAA rules also permit teams to have 10 on-campus practices before they leave the country.
Other SEC teams going on tours, according to national reporter Jeff Goodman, are Kentucky (Bahamas on Aug. 8-14), Auburn (Israel on July 31-Aug. 10), Alabama (Spain and France on Aug. 5-14), Ole Miss (Bahamas on July 30-Aug. 4) and Vanderbilt (France and Italy on Aug. 6-15).
This will be the third time Arkansas Coach Eric Musselman has been with a team on a summer foreign tour. He was an assistant coach with Arizona State in 2013 when the Sun Devils played in China and Nevada’s head coach when the Wolf Pack played in Costa Rica in 2017.
“The 10 practices leading up to the trip will really be beneficial to us,” Musselman said. “But the games will be really beneficial as well.
“It’s good for everybody to get some chemistry on the floor. It’s really good for the coaches to get to play different rotations and look at different combinations. Both offensively and defensively.
“It forces you to have a lot more stuff in schematically knowing that you have four games coming up. So I think it’s really good for a lot of different reasons.”
Having additional practices and games as well as traveling together abroad figures to be especially beneficial for an Arkansas team that has 11 newcomers.
The Razorbacks have only two returning scholarship players with junior guard Davonte Davis and senior forward Kamani Johnson.
There are six freshmen joining the team and five transfers.
The freshmen include three McDonald’s All-Americans — Anthony Black, Nick Smith and Jordan Walsh — along with Barry Dunning, Derrian Ford and Joseph Pinion.
Transfer additions are Trevon Brazile (Missouri), Ricky Council (Wichita State), Jalen Graham (Arizona State) and twins Makhi and Makhel Mitchell (Rhode Island).
All of the players are now on campus and going through workout. Black joined the Razorbacks on Thursday after helping Team USA to the gold medal at the FIBA Under-18 Americas Championship in Tijuana, Mexico.
“I think it’s going to be fun knowing that we’re going overseas to play basketball and building chemistry,” Davis said. “I think it’ll help the team out a lot off the court knowing that we’re going to be together for quite a long time outside of the facilities here.
“I think it’ll help us bond more for sure, on and off the court.”
The Razorbacks will play their first three exhibition games in Spain, including at Valencia on Aug. 9 and Madrid on Aug. 11 and 12. The fourth game will be in Lake Como, Italy, on Aug. 14.
Arkansas previously went on foreign tours in the summers of 2012 (Italy) and 2016 (Spain) when Mike Anderson was the Razorbacks coach.
Anderson is taking his St. John’s team on a tour in the Dominican Republic this summer.
Among nonconference opponents for the Razorbacks going on summer tours, according to the list compiled by Goodman, are Baylor (Canada on July 3-10) and Oklahoma (Bahamas on July 30-Aug. 6). Ohio State, a possible Arkansas opponent in the Maui Invitational, will be on a tour in the Bahamas on Aug. 4-9.
Council said his Wichita State team had been scheduled to go on a foreign tour last summer, but it was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“I would say it’ll help us bond a lot,” Council said of the Razorbacks’ tour. “But I honestly feel like we’re already close.”
Musselman said the players have been together at his house three times already. They also have activities planned away from basketball, such as going boxing today.
“We try to do a lot of stuff bonding-wise,” Musselman said. “Some unique non-basketball activities now that we’re all together.
“But certainly getting on an airplane, traveling that far [to Europe], knowing that the basketball once we got on the trip will be very, very limited [helps bring the team closer]. Practice time will be limited, or none existent. There’ll be games.
“I do think this team has become really close in a really short amount of time, especially with the thought that there’s only two returners.
“I think the 11 new guys — although Anthony just got here — have done a great job of bonding on their own away from the coaching staff.”
Itinerary for the Arkansas men’s basketball team’s summer tour, according to a UA news release:
Depart Fayetteville on Aug. 6 and arrive in Valencia, Spain, on Aug. 7
GAME 1 Aug. 9 at Valencia
Bus to Madrid, Spain, on Aug. 10
GAME 2 Aug. 11 at Madrid
GAME 3 Aug. 12 at Madrid
Fly to Milan, Italy, on Aug. 13
GAME 4 Aug. 14 in Lake Como, Italy
Return to Fayetteville on Aug. 16