In the last few weeks, Missouri has lost two players to the pros (Jordan Clarkson, Jabari Brown), kicked a player off the team (Zach Price), landed a 2014 commitment (Kevin Punter), lost a head coach (Frank Haith), lost a commitment (Punter), hired a coach (Kim Anderson), retained a key assistant (Tim Fuller), retained a key 2014 commitment (Jakeenan Gant), potentially lost another one (Namon Wright), lost a 2015 commitment (Ronnie Suggs), and added a 2014 commitment (D'Angelo Allen). That's ... a lot of change. It would probably behoove us to take a look at who will actually be on the 2014-15 roster at this point, along with who may join it soon.
D'Angelo Allen commits
The Trib: Dallas-area prospect Allen commits to Missouri
The Missourian: Anderson lands first commitment as Missouri basketball head coach
Post-Dispatch: Anderson lands pledge from Texas forward
KC Star: Coach Kim Anderson’s first recruit, small forward D’Angelo Allen, commits to MU basketball
PowerMizzou: Allen sold on Mizzou
D'Angelo Allen is a three-star small forward from Dallas Kimball high school, home of recent five-star SMU signee Keith Frazier, four-star 2015 guard Jawun Evans, and three of the last four 4A state titles. Allen's a lanky dude -- 6'6, 185 -- and has a pretty electrifying game. His AAU coach calls him "basically the best defender down here right now" in the Post-Dispatch link above and "a Scottie Pippen-type, a stat stuffer," in the KC Star link. Yeah, no pressure there, D'Angelo.
Allen was considered one of the best remaining uncommitted wings; part of the reason he was still uncommitted had to do with grades. He has been considered a qualification risk in the past, so we'll see if he ends up with the requisite grades and test scores. He could earn some serious playing time as a freshman if he makes it to campus.
Namon Wright gets out of his LOI
As had been rumored for a few days, Namon Wright indeed asked out of his Letter of Intent recently. He's supposedly still considering Missouri -- the Missourian link above suggests his chances of landing at Mizzou are better than the "Yeah, he's definitely ending up at UCLA" Internet rumors would suggest, but ... one has to figure the odds are good that he ends up at UCLA. While Jakeenan Gant was considered the more vital of Mizzou's two signees, Wright had himself a lovely senior season, and it would be disappointing to miss out on him as Mizzou probably will. Tim Fuller was the key player in Gant's recruitment, but for Wright it appears it was more Haith and Mark Phelps, both of whom are now gone.
Ronnie Suggs decommits
Just learned that Washington High Sr. G Ronnie Suggs will open up his recruitment. The 6'6 Suggs had originally committed to Missouri— Earl Austin Jr. (@earlaustinjr) May 4, 2014
I actually thought this had happened a while ago, but Ronnie Suggs, Mizzou's only 2015 commitment, is back on the market. This is neither surprising nor alarming -- Kim Anderson and the current staff have plenty of time to try to win him back if they choose to do so. Signing Day for 2015 players is months away.
Kevin Punter is a Vol
As of this morning.
Punter was supposed to have an in-home meeting with Kim Anderson soon, but he apparently saw all he needed to see in Knoxville this weekend and went ahead and jumped aboard the Donnie Tyndall train in Knoxville. So he's off the board.
PowerMizzou's Hot Board piece is a lovely primer for what's left on the table. (Granted, you'll need to ignore the Punter part.) Without giving away much/any subscriber info, we know that...
- Shelton Mitchell, a four-star, 6'3 point guard from Oak Hill Academy, told Gabe Dearmond and other sources that he will likely visit Missouri, California, and Vanderbilt. He was until recently a Wake Forest signee but asked out of his LOI after the Deacs' coaching change.
- Jay Wright, a 6'1, 180-pound Casper College point guard and friend of Jakeenan Gant, visited Columbia this weekend and supposedly got an offer. He averaged 16.5 points per game (45% 2PT, 29% 3PT, 68% FT), 4.5 assists, 5.0 rebounds (!), 1.9 steals, and 2.9 turnovers for Casper this year. He's a pretty high-volatility guard, and he has three years of eligibility left.
- Late last week, we saw a rumor that Ricky Kreklow, who transferred from Mizzou to California when Frank Haith arrived, might be interested in transferring back as a graduate transfer. Kreklow was a decent role player on a solid Cal team, averaging 23.7 minutes, 5.5 points (41% 2PT, 33% 3PT, 72% FT), 2.6 rebounds, 1.8 assists, and 1.0 steals per game. As a senior, he could give Mizzou solid minutes while not eating up any scholarships for future classes.
- Guard Brandon Chauca also received an offer this weekend. He's listed at 5'10, 165, but you could certainly convince me he's shorter than that. He's certainly a play-maker, though.
One can pretty quickly figure out what Kim Anderson sees as the major glaring hole in his 2014-15 roster. Basically everybody he's offered thus far plays the guard position. And it doesn't take long to figure out why.
Based on current commitments and assuming no further transfers, here are the known scholarship designees for the next three Mizzou squads. (Danny Feldmann is not listed below but could certainly become a role player in 2014-15.)
Deuce Bello (Jr.)
Wes Clark (So.)
Shane Rector (So.)
|Deuce Bello (Sr.)
Wes Clark (Jr.)
Shane Rector (Jr.)
|Wes Clark (Sr.)
Shane Rector (Sr.)
Johnathan Williams III (So.)
Cameron Biedscheid (So.)
Torren Jones (So.)
Jakeenan Gant (Fr.)
D'Angelo Allen (Fr.)
|Johnathan Williams III (Jr.)
Cameron Biedscheid (Jr.)
Torren Jones (Jr.)
Jakeenan Gant (So.)
D'Angelo Allen (So.)
|Johnathan Williams III (Sr.)
Cameron Biedscheid (Sr.)
Torren Jones (Sr.)
Jakeenan Gant (Jr.)
D'Angelo Allen (Jr.)
Keanau Post (Sr.)
Ryan Rosburg (Jr.)
|Ryan Rosburg (Sr.)|
Obviously determining where these players go is pretty subjective. Cameron Biedscheid, eligible at semester break, is a small forward with a shooting guard's skill set, so we could certainly put him in the backcourt. Torren Jones has the size of a power forward prototype but seems to have more of a center's skill set (i.e. he isn't very good more than three feet from the basket but can do some damage near the rim).
Regardless of where we stick Biedscheid, however, the pickings are slim in the backcourt. Clark and Rector are point guards, and Bello is a 2-guard who could move to PG in a pinch, but Anderson obviously seems to want more ball-handling help. Can't really blame him.
It will be interesting to see how many scholarships Anderson ends up giving out here. Obviously Kreklow would be a risk-free option, but while he has three scholarships to give this spring, he'll only have one senior (two with Kreklow) on the 2014-15 squad. One figures he will pocket at least one of the three available (non-Kreklow) schollies here, simply so he has more than one to give out in 2015. But I could see him trying to land a freshman alongside Jay Wright and Kreklow. That would give him a much deeper backcourt with two scholarships to give in the fall.
Anderson is basically inheriting from Frank Haith the exact opposite of what Haith inherited from Anderson. As we've discussed many times, Haith inherited a cupboard stocked with impressive goods that were all about to expire. In his second season at Mizzou, he had only two former Mike Anderson players on the roster; he had none in Year 3.
Though attrition could change this, right now Anderson is projected to have nine Haith players on the roster in 2015-16 (though that includes Gant, who is technically now an Anderson guy) and seven (six) in 2016-17. Haith left a bit of a shaken-up roster in his wake, but Anderson could potentially do very, very good things with Haith players in Year 2. In my mind, then, Haith left a pretty decent situation for Anderson, especially since Tim Fuller's still on staff and should ease the transition.
Mizzou's 2014-15 squad will have all sorts of length and decent size, and it won't surprise me at all to see the Tigers' defensive numbers improve dramatically. The question, of course, is whether Mizzou will be able to score. If not, then Year 1 might not be a lot of fun, but if Anderson is indeed able to plump up the backcourt a bit (on offense, particularly), then he might have enough pieces here to engineer an NCAA Tournament bid.
It's very good that Anderson enters with virtually no Year 1 expectations -- it's much easier to clear a low bar -- but there's some potential here despite the loss of Punter and Wright. And he doesn't have to completely rebuild the roster in Year 2 like Haith had to.
We said it over and over again during the coaching search: you don't make a hire based on short-term recruiting. But considering the primary concern with Anderson -- recruiting -- he's walking into a strong situation. Not only is Fuller staying, at least for a little bit, but if recruiting indeed becomes a sticking point for Anderson, we won't really know it until Year 3 or Year 4. He's inheriting a roster with quite a bit of upside, and his initial recruiting will be based more around shoring up specific weaknesses instead of building a base of talent from scratch. This is a really nice situation for him, and honestly, I expect him to do well.