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A breakthrough class?

Image via DFW Basketball News

In today's Mizzou Links, I linked to an article on Dallas forward Tony Mitchell and the status of his recruitment.  I know we've mentioned him before, but just to reiterate: that's the #15 player in the 2010 basketball recruiting class.  He committed to K-State earlier in the process, but his mom said no.  Mike Anderson swooped in, wooed Mama, and now she and Mizzou commit Phil Pressey are both hammering Mitchell to come to Mizzou.

Mitchell does not yet have any official visits set up, but is ironing out dates in the next few days. Missouri is joined by Cincinnati, Georgetown, Florida International, Marquette and North Texas in Mitchell's final six. That list is unlikely to change. Our source said that Mitchell would like to visit all six and make a commitment "by late fall or early winter." Mitchell said that he is going to talk over the visits with his mother and admitted it may take him fewer than a half dozen to reach a decision.

"I think I'm gonna say less," he said. "But I'm going to wait and see."


The Tigers, though, may have one advantage that the other schools don't: An extra recruiter. Missouri pledge Phil Pressey is also a Dallas native and is in Mitchell's ear.

"Phil, that's my boy. We play each other during the summer," Mitchell said. "Phil has been recruiting me harder than Missouri."

Early signing period starts soon, and there's at least an off-chance that he visits and commits in that time.  That would be such a huge get for Anderson and staff.  Back in April, we took a look at Nolan Richardson's track record in terms of both recruiting and performance (Part 1, Part 2), and we reached the following conclusions: 1) Three years into his Mizzou tenure, Anderson is overachieving in comparison to where Richardson was after three years, and 2) he doesn't need a ton of big-time recruits to succeed, but he does need one every now and then.

So what this says to me is one major thing: All-American talent in this system can make a big difference (Richardson never really did much when he didn't have at least one blue-chipper), but it really doesn't take much.  When Richardson's teams were technically at their most talented and experienced (1992-92, 1998-99), they were good but not great.  When they had 1-2 blue-chippers and the right combination of lengthy, athletic role players with chips on their shoulders, they won big.  It doesn't take much of that breakthrough talent.  One big stud every class or two may be enough.


As I've mentioned many times regarding football recruiting, the star ratings and blue-chip concept revolve around margins for error and probabilities for success.  A 5-star recruit has a pretty high probability of success, while each progressive star down has less.  You can succeed with 3-star kids, but can you always succeed with them?  Or do you need the occasional big-time recruit?  Does Mike Anderson have such a great grasp of his Fastest 40 Minutes style that he really simply does not need any blue-chippers?

My official (waffling) answer: maybe, but probably not, and for one simple reason: we did try to land Snaer and Cousins this year.  We have offered Pressey, Black and Wade for 2010 (and those are only the ones we've heard about).  We do go after at least some top names (the ones we think would fit into our system, anyway), which suggests that we think we could succeed as much or more with them than with a team full of lunch-pail types.  And the fact that Nolan Richardson did succeed more with them than without them does make a pretty viable case (as does the fact that Mike Leach's system--the football equivalent to Anderson's in some ways--won more games with 4-stars Harrell and Crabtree at QB/WR than without them aids the argument).

Make no mistake, though: I'm cool either way.

So Mitchell is there for the taking right now.  If Mizzou lands him, that would be their fourth commit, and unless somebody leaves and a scholarship comes open, that would mark the end of their recruiting class, and...well, it would represent pretty much what you could consider the perfect Mike Anderson recruiting class: a 5-star kid (Mitchell), a 4-star kid (Pressey), a local 3-star kid (Ricky Kreklow), and an unranked diamond-in-the-rough type (Kadeem Green).  It is already Anderson's highest-ranked class thanks to Pressey, but it would be at the very least a Top 25 class. And if Anderson is able to swoop in and lock down the most mom-oriented five-star kid in a given class, then what exactly is standing in the way of the Missouri basketball program?  Fun thought.

Here's Mitchell's ESPN recruiting profile, with a pretty fun blurb:

June, 2009: Mitchell may have been the strongest player in the camp. When he guarded Vince Carter in a one-on-one drill, Carter made mention of his strength. By nature he can defend in the post, but his 7-foot, 2-inch wing span allows him to go out deep on the perimeter and guard. He will be an extremely valuable defender in college. He will be able to defend small forwards, power forwards and some centers. Offensively he drives and finishes well along with scoring on offensive putbacks, and finishing dump-off passes through contact at the rim. His perimeter game offensively is raw but with a lot of potential. He needs to work on his jump shot from the the 3-point line as well as his mid-range jumper. If he does this he will be an extremely hard player guard because of his physical presence inside plus his ability to drive to the basket. He'll be more of a complete player. When it comes to rebounding, Mitchell is good but he could be much better. He should be a double-double guy because of his athletic ability, strength and skill set.

Anyway, here's some video of Mitchell.  Let's see, he's a strong defender and, watching the videos, he loves to run.  Seems like "He'd be a good fit for our system" is a bit of an understatement, huh?