How Mizzou builds a championship basketball program, Part 3

Dak Dillon-USA TODAY Sports

Or my preferred title: "Why Kim Anderson should hire me as his assistant so I can show him all of this stuff"... Part Three

It's always a good idea to start at the beginning. So if you haven't read Part 1, or Part 2 yet, I highly recommend it. They sort of set the table for what this whole thing is about. But after a very successful season in 2015-16, Mizzou basketball-land is buzzing with the potential for a new season since they only lost one major contributor in Cameron Biedscheid. And the offseason work of shoring the roster begins.

2016-17, A Championship Season

RECRUITING

There aren't many people who don't know who Jayson Tatum is at this point, but just in case... I found possibly the only highlight reel on YouTube without obnoxious music playing over it:

Tatum is a rising junior in High School at Chaminade Prep in St. Louis and is currently rated the fourth best player in his class by Rivals. He's a 5-star 6'7 wing who can handle the ball. There is no question about Tatum's talent and the kind of impact he would have at any school. He's almost certainly a one-and-done player in the mold of Carmelo Anthony or Shaun Livingston. One-and-dones are an interesting aspect to high-major college basketball, as a strategic piece I think one can make you championship caliber immediately.

Tatum is just that kind of piece. Now without getting everybody too excited about a future that probably won't happen (because how could a post about Mizzou winning a national championship do anything of the sort?), Harry Giles, a 5-star 6'10 PF from North Carolina and the number 2 ranked player in the 2016 class, is very good friends with Tatum and the two have discussed playing together in college. Giles has to be on Mizzou's radar for these reasons alone. I wouldn't be surprised if Giles and Tatum signed up at the same school, I would be shocked if it was Mizzou. Still I also wouldn't be surprised if Mizzou jumped in and offered Giles. It might be a bit late, but we know that Tim Fuller has a lot of connections to that part of the country. We'll see.

Other players to keep a serious eye on in the 2016 class include Xavier Sneed, the 6'5 190 lb wing and offspring of former Auburn Tiger Chris Porter who you may remember as the dude with the awesome ‘fro and other things from their one good team 15 years ago. Sneed is a great athlete from Hazelwood Central in north St. Louis County and has the opportunity to play football or basketball at a very high level. Gary Pinkel and Co. will have their eyes on him as well.

Michael Lewis is a 6'1 guard from Chaminade who already has some mid-major offers and interest from high majors. Missouri has also already offered Joshua Langford, a 6'4 SG from Madison Alabama, he's a 4-star and nationally ranked number 21. Another Frank Haith offer, but interesting to see if that sticks since it's another southeast guy.

Projecting guys this far out is a little harder for recruiting because you pretty much know who the REALLY GREAT players are, but outside of that it's tough. I will mention a guy by the name of Seventh Woods, because just for fun go watch his highlight video. It's worth it. He reminds me of a... wait for it... more explosive Derrick Rose. MORE. EXPLOSIVE. Go ahead. I'll wait.

Welcome back! Landing Tatum is something that would be extremely unlikely given their past history with signing the elite players from St. Louis and also because Tatum has more ties to SLU through his father and SLU alum Justin Tatum. If Mizzou is fortunate enough to sign Tatum they would probably do so in the fall signing period as very few 5-stars wait until the spring signing period to commit. So the timeline for signing Jayson Tatum would run up to October of 2015. A fall signing also increases the odds that Cameron Biedscheid makes an early exit after the season. Mizzou would then have three scholarships available with Ryan Rosburg and Deuce Bello leaving as seniors. We’re going to progress with this season's prediction in two ways. One if by Tatum. Two if not.

ONE: TATUM-MANIA

So part of the stepping stone season of 2015-16 celebration is the fact that Mizzou has finally locked down that border. RockMNation celebrates each big win during the season yet the anticipation of the following season is palpable because #ZOMGTATUMISCOMING. And we develop approximately 23 memes based solely on Mizzou’s first 5-star in-state signee in ages. We relish in the success and fun of the previous season but we spend game threads talking about Jayson Tatum.

What kind of impact can we expect from the 5-star freshman? The one way to figure this out is by looking over comparable players. And I think its safe to say that he probably replaces the productivity and minutes that Biedscheid provided the previous year. On the AdjMin chart the closest comparable player to a 5-star freshman is a 4-star junior. So it's easy to imagine that you make that swap. Other players similar in style and ability to Tatum:

  • Jabari Parker: 30.7 min, 19.1 ppg, 8.7 rpg, 47.3% fg, 35.8% 3pt, 74.8% ft
  • Harrison Barnes: 29.4 min, 15.7 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 42.3% fg, 34.4% 3pt, 75.0% ft
  • Kyle Singler: 28.6 min, 13.3 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 45.7% fg, 34.0% 3pt, 77.4% ft
  • Shaun Livingston: Declared NBA out of HS, 4th pick in 1st round
  • Luol Deng: 31.1 min, 15.1 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 47.5% fg, 36.0% 3pt, 71.0% ft
  • Carmelo Anthony: 36.4 min, 22.2 ppg, 10 rpg, 45.3% fg, 33.7% 3pt, 70.6% ft

All bigger wing players. None were/are explosive athletes but are very good with the ball and can score in a multitude of ways.

With Tatum basically taking over Biedscheids production and minutes (27) you don't lose a whole lot from the wing position. Plus you'll get contributions from D'Angelo Allen on the wing also. But getting a combined 160 minutes a game from either 4 or 5-star players is what creates a bit of a monster. Even bigger are the 30 and 31 minutes gobbled up by seniors Johnathan Williams III and Wes Clark.

Add 53 minutes from juniors Jakeenan Gant and Namon Wright and you've got as solid of a foursome as there is in college basketball. The {Sophomore Guard/Jimmy Whitt} bumps up to about 19-20 minutes a contest. Then you're able to fill in with key contributions from Torren Jones (14), Allen (13) and the {Sophomore Forward/Juwan Morgan} (8). Its possible to even out the numbers a little bit more to get bigger contributions from your Junior PG, and even maybe some other freshmen. But at this point it should be pretty hard to take Clark, Williams, Gant and Wright off the floor.

Roster Breakdown per Minute

2016-17

PG

SG

SF

PF

C

Total

Wes Clark

27

4

0

0

0

31

Torren Jones

0

0

0

0

14

14

Johnathan Williams III

0

0

0

7

23

30

D'Angelo Allen

0

0

13

0

0

13

Hayden Barnard

0

0

0

0

0

0

Jakeenan Gant

0

0

0

28

0

28

Namon Wright

0

25

0

0

0

25

Junior PG

5

0

0

0

0

5

Sophomore Guard

8

11

0

0

0

19

Soph Forward

0

0

0

5

3

8

Jayson Tatum

0

0

27

0

0

27

Freshman PG

0

0

0

0

0

0

Freshman Forward

0

0

0

0

0

0

40

40

40

40

40

200

What gets me excited about this breakdown is that it does this to the projection:

Year

Team

Riv Mins

Exp Mins

Adj Mins

Total

ScorePP

2017

Mizzou

577.0

741.0

852.0

2170.0

241.1

A 241.1 ScorePP is almost North Carolina version 2009. A team that featured a previous 5-star Missouri phenom in Tyler Hansbrough, along with Ty Lawson, Wayne Ellington, Danny Green, Deon Thompson, Tyler Zeller, and Ed Davis. All are currently in the NBA. So that's overall number 1 seed kind of numbers for this Mizzou roster. It's also not far off from Duke's 2010 team. Duke went 35-5, UNC went 34-4. It's also a similar roster look to that of 2003 Champion Syracuse, that relied a lot on 5-star freshman Carmelo Anthony, but supplemented with very good players like Hakim Warrick, Gerry MaNamara and Kueth Duany. Anthony carried the largest load of the players I compared Tatum to above. With Tatum Mizzou can be a championship team. They can be a number one overall seed. They can win more games than any other Mizzou team to date. But what if Tatum doesn't go to Mizzou? Let's move on to the more likely team that we field in 2016-17.

TWO: EXPERIENCE+TALENT+DESTINY=CHAMPS

Mizzou didn't get Jayson Tatum. It's alright. You know why? Johnathan Williams, Wes Clark, Namon Wright and Jakeenan Gant are all coming back. Plus they have Jimmy Whitt who was good last year and poised to be even better, and the excitement to see more from D'Angelo Allen is there as well. Plus Mizzou signed a couple good freshmen coming in that have some potential, and maybe Coach Anderson can close the deal on Michael Porter, Jr. for next season. Either way, we at RockMNation can feel that maybe this season has a chance to be really special.

It's not that hard to make up the minutes that we have without Tatum. Jimmy Whitt and D'Angelo Allen are able to fill those in, plus that gives blossoming Junior Jakeenan Gant some minutes at the small forward where he's able to show his versatility and give Mizzou some ridiculous size on the perimeter. Wes Clark is counted on to score a bit more and that's okay because he is able to consistently break opponents down off the dribble and create for himself and others. Namon Wright's three point shooting at this point is consistently good as he's matched his 42% three point shooting percentage from high school (he's also taking smarter threes the same way Kim English learned to by his senior year). Johnathan Williams III continues his progress from the year before and is a double-double machine giving us 16 points and 12 rebounds a night.

It's a good time to be a Mizzou fan.

Without a dominant freshman Coach Kim Anderson starts relying on the talented and experienced core more than he has the first few years and they reward him. The experience and upperclass minutes dominate this team as they are getting extraordinary minutes from Seniors and Juniors. There are some minutes to be had by some younger players but the bulk minutes are played by 6 guys. Torren Jones continues to be a valuable substitute and energy guy. Without a star freshman Mizzou loses some in the Rivals Minutes a bit, but Mizzou makes that up with Experience Minutes as Wright and Gant gain minutes with Allen. Let's see this breakdown.

Roster Breakdown per Minute

2016-17

PG

SG

SF

PF

C

Total

Wes Clark

27

4

0

0

0

31

Torren Jones

0

0

0

0

14

14

Johnathan Williams III

0

0

0

7

23

30

D'Angelo Allen

0

0

22

0

0

22

Hayden Barnard

0

0

0

0

0

0

Jakeenan Gant

0

0

5

26

0

31

Namon Wright

0

16

11

0

0

27

Junior PG

11

0

0

0

0

5

Sophomore Guard

5

17

2

0

0

24

Soph Forward

0

0

0

7

3

10

Freshmen Wing

0

0

0

0

0

0

Freshman PG

0

0

0

0

0

0

Freshman Forward

0

0

0

0

0

0

40

40

40

40

40

200

What's interesting here is that because Mizzou is able to make up for not having a 5-star freshmen by giving some of those minutes at the SF position to 4-star Junior (who have equivalent multipliers) Gant, and extra minutes to the other 4-star Junior Wright... they lose almost nothing in terms of ScorePP. See?

Year

Team

Riv Mins

Exp Mins

Adj Mins

Total

ScorePP

2017

Mizzou

561.0

761.0

837.0

2164.0

240.4

That's right, less than a one point difference. A ScorePP of 240.4 without a 5-star player on your team is a big reason for optimism. Now this outlook is by no means gospel. If Fuller goes out and blazes the recruiting trail with more 4-star supplements and maybe even a 5-star Mizzou is probably dealing with some roster turmoil. Those players will be given more than just token minutes because talent speaks. But if there is one reason to take some optimism away from the future of this program is that the base of talent is very very good right now. And to be quite honest about this setup, you'd better hope that Fuller and Anderson can fill the roster with guys that will be ready to play because a championship can lead to a lot of guys leaving for the NBA Draft...

DEPARTING SCHOLARSHIPS:

Wes Clark - Point Guard; Torren Jones - Power Forward; Johnathan Williams - Power Forward;

NBA DRAFT POSSIBILITIES:

  • Jakeenan Gant: After a championship he's probably gone. A swing forward at this point, he's a first round pick: 90% chance
  • Namon Wright: Everybody might be ready to bail after a championship season and Namons odds go up as he's been a solid player for two years and has improved a lot of the little things in his game: 75% chance
  • Jimmy Whitt: It's possible that he jumps, but next year he's probably the man for Mizzou and going to be a with a chance to really show off his skills the next year: 35% chance

WRAP-UP

Seeing how this roster can become something really special was a fun endeavor. Looking at players that we don't know much about right now or how their careers are going to progress isn't easy, but there is a lot of talent on this roster. Frank Haith left in a weird way but he left the cupboard pretty full. Keeping Tim Fuller, Jakeenan Gant and Namon Wright was such an important move for Coach Anderson because it sets up all of this as a possibility. Maybe Wes Clark becomes a player like previous 4-star PG talents Keith Appling, Markel Starks, Deron Williams, Darren Collison, Peyton Siva or D.J. Augustin. Maybe he doesn't. Maybe Johnathan Williams III becomes JaJuan Johnson, (Purdue's 4 year 4-star All-American Power Forward from 2011) maybe he doesn't. We don't know. But we've learned that it's possible.

Mizzou basketball is not that far away from being a championship caliber team in potential. They aren't there right now. But the foundation is there for this team to be just one season away from being really good. When I started this I expected to be excited for the look of a team two years off but I was surprised by how good they're going to look the season after this upcoming one. The benefit to this roster is that we get to know a lot about our coach pretty soon. Where I still felt the jury was out on Frank Haith even after year three, Anderson has a chance to make a strong early impression.

In 2 years it's possible that these players, guys that are on the roster right now are the difference between the same ole Mizzou, and a whole new generation of Mizzou basketball. It's okay. Get excited.

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