Phil Pressey, Missouri's career leader in assists (580) and steals (196), will forgo his final collegiate season and make himself eligible for the 2013 NBA Draft. Pressey made the announcement on Wednesday as he has signed with the agency CAA Sports (Creative Artists Agency).
"Many college basketball players dream of this day, but when I had to finally make this decision it was difficult because it means I am leaving a place I love so much," Pressey said. "I love my teammates, my coaches, Mike Alden and all of our fans, and I'm so glad I had the chance to play for Coach Haith these last two years. He had such a big impact on my career and because of that relationship I will help Missouri Basketball anyway I can going forward.
"I wish we could have brought home a national championship banner, but coming to Mizzou was the best decision of my life. This is a special place and I will always be a Tiger."
"It's a bittersweet day because we all care so much about Phil, but I know how much research he and his family have done and I support that 100 percent," Head Coach Frank Haith said. "I was fortunate in that I had the opportunity to coach Phil for two seasons and he helped us win a lot of games, but more importantly, he was a great ambassador for our program both on and off the court. I wish Phil and his family all the best as he turns to a new chapter in his basketball career."
So that's that then. I'm not sure I agree with the decision, but as I posted even while expressing confidence that he would return, it was far from a guarantee that Pressey could improve his draft stock in his senior season. With his size, he kind of is what he is.
Pressey's legacy was both enhanced and damaged by circumstance in 2012-13. Forced to take on more of a dominant role in the Mizzou offense, he once again engineered quality overall numbers -- after ranking first in Ken Pomeroy's offensive efficiency ratings in 2011-12, Mizzou only fell to 15th this past season despite the losses of Marcus Denmon, Kim English, Mike Dixon, and Ricardo Ratliffe. But with Dixon's departure, Pressey was the only point guard on the roster and often appeared to show some cracks late in contests. He made a series of errors in road losses to UCLA, LSU, Texas A&M, Arkansas, and Kentucky and earned some unfair scorn from Mizzou fans. His defense was more justifiably scorn-worthy, however; Mizzou ranked 115th in Pomeroy's defensive efficiency in 2011-12 and 55th in 2012-13, and opposing point guards had a way of taking advantage of Pressey's deficiencies quite frequently.
Still, Pressey does depart Missouri having set the school's career assists and steals marks in just three seasons. That is damn impressive. Pressey is one of Mizzou's greats. We wish him luck.
And now the spotlight shines on Wes Clark.