The Rafters, Class of 2012: PLAYOFF!

Because one tier was demonstrably weaker than the others, because these two players played the same position and only missed each other by a few years (and, therefore, basically played in the same era anyway), and because one player got more votes while finishing second in his tier than the other got while winning his (weaker) tier, we're going to have our first ever RAFTERS PLAYOFF. One of these two players will be occupying the final spot in the Rafters Class of 2012. Who will it be?

Melvin Booker (1990-94)

Little fanfare accompanied Melvin Booker’s arrival in Columbia. Norm Stewart discovered the unassuming point guard from Moss Point, Mississippi, while recruiting a more heralded peer. Good thing he did, because Booker spent the next four years maximizing his ability as well as any player in the Stewart era. A starter as a freshman, Booker deferred to Doug Smith and Anthony Peeler on the court. But he began to come into his own as a sophomore, averaging 11.6 points and 3.9 assists. With Peeler’s departure after the 1991-92 season, Booker assumed leadership of the team. His 15.8 points per game led the club in his All-Big Eight junior season. But it was Booker’s remarkable senior season that sealed his place among Mizzou’s all-time greats. His averages of 18.1 points and 4.5 assists per game do not begin to tell the story. On his way to becoming the Big Eight Player of the Year and a second team All-American, Melvin Booker imposed his will on each game, hitting every clutch shot in a season that saw the Tigers go a perfect 14-0 in the Big Eight and advance to within one game of the Final Four. Though his career began in virtual anonymity, it ended with Booker ranking among the greats in Missouri Tiger history.

Keyon Dooling (1998-00)

One of the most electrifying athletes ever to wear the black and gold, 6’3’ guard Keyon Dooling had an up-and-down freshman season until the Tigers traveled to Lawrence, Kansas. Dooling scored 15 points as Missouri upset the Jayhawks, who were nearly invincible at Allen Field House. His play helped Mizzou to a second place finish in the Big 12, and an appearance in the NCAA Tournament after a three-year absence. Then, in 1999-2000, Dooling emerged as Missouri’s top player. He scored 15.3 points per game and earned second team All-Big 12 honors as he carried the Tigers to their second straight NCAA appearance. Dooling then cut short his collegiate career to enter the NBA draft, and was taken with the 10th overall pick.

CREDITS:

1. Melvin Booker photo via the amazing online Savitar archives.

2. 12 Dec 1998: Guard Keyon Dooling #5 of the Missouri Tigers in action during a game against the Southern Methodist University Mustangs at Moody Coliseum in Dallas, Texas. Missouri defeated SMU 66-55. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Dunn /Allsport

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