October 11, 2014. Mizzou Football is playing Georgia in a huge game with SEC East conference championship at stake. A win and they control their own destiny; a loss, and things get really murky.
There will be another battle going on that day, but not one on the gridiron. This battle is being waged by Kim Anderson, Tim Fuller, Rob Fulford and Brad Loos. It is the battle for top-flight college basketball players. Coach Anderson has waded into the waters of big-time college hoops recruiting, and the result is the biggest weekend in Mizzou basketball recruiting history.
There are 10 guys coming in to visit the campus and see Mizzou at its finest. Most of the basketball blue-blood schools don't play at the highest level of college football. Kansas fields the equivalent of an FCS team. Duke has improved, but it is still a ways behind the traditional ACC powers. Kentucky plays in the SEC and is threatening to be be pretty good. But none can touch the last 10 years of Mizzou football.
So Mizzou has decided to go all in on some players that could change the face and perception of Missouri basketball for the near future. They've decided to go all in on players that never really used to give Missouri a look. They've decided to go all in on making Missouri basketball a destination for elite players.
Here's how they can reshape the roster and the level of which they recruit in the near future.
Class of 2015
The Player of NEED
Next season, Mizzou loses Keanau Post and doesn’t have any size outside of Ryan Rosburg on the roster. Both Jakeenan Gant and Johnathan Williams III can play big, but Thomas Bryant is an elite player with both size and agility and the potential to be a star. He can fill an immediate need and possibly start right off the bat. Either way, he’s probably the most important visitor from the aspect of filling a position of need. He's also the most likely player for Mizzou to land, as it appears to be down to Mizzou and Syracuse. MY GUESS AT MIZZOU'S CHANCES: 65%
The Shooting STAR
Blakeney is the kind of electric talent that any school in the country would want. And most of them do. Blakeney is hearing from Kentucky, North Carolina, LSU and Oregon. He had committed to Louisville before de-committing a few days later. He’s an explosive athlete that can get the rim and finish over the top of the defenders, and he is a solid shooter from deep. Mizzou has a chance with Blakeney because Coach Fuller built a relationship with him early on. Most thought was that LSU and Missouri were in the lead when he decommitted from U of L, but Kentucky has made up a lot of ground, mostly because they're nervous they might not get their number 1 choice, Malik Newman. MY GUESS AT MIZZOU's CHANCES: 30%
The PRIZE Floor General
Nabbing Briscoe is the kind of program-changing move that Mizzou could really use. I think the Tigers would like to have a point guard in the class, and Briscoe is only the best point guard available. He’s a strong leader with a strong body. Briscoe is not the flashiest player, but he’s ultra effective. It’s a long road up because most think that Kentucky is the favorite for his services, but Mizzou has a chance because the genuine approach of Kim Anderson, coupled with the charm and salesmanship of Tim Fuller, have gotten Briscoe to come take a long look at Mizzou. MY GUESS AT MIZZOU's CHANCES: 15%
The Big Time ATHLETE
Kapita is a guy who in the last six to eight months of offseason work has shot up the rankings. He's a fast and athletic big man who still has some rounding out to do but is already considered a top power forward. Kapita was a sleeper out of Florida until he blew up over the summer. Mizzou hasn't offered, but obviously have connections to him through Rob Fulford. So why not bring him out? MY GUESS AT MIZZOU's CHANCES: 40%
Class of 2016
The In-State DIAMOND
Tatum could be the best recruit to come out of the state of Missouri in a long time. The 2016 class is loaded, and he’s at the top of it. Tatum is a jewel. He plays like a shooting guard but has the height of a power forward. He has been compared to Kevin Durant, and there are legitimate reasons why. Mizzou has made the top 10 for Tatum, but the rest include Kansas, Duke, Kentucky, Arizona, Illinois, North Carolina, Wake Forest, SLU and UConn. The competition is stiff, but the closeness to home could play a big role. MY GUESS AT MIZZOU's CHANCES: 15%
The Elite PLAYMAKER
The Tigers offered Simmons early on in the summer, and that almost sparked a flood of offers for the exciting combo guard from Atlanta. Simmons is a top-15 player according the Rivals and is an electric playmaker whose natural position is at the point. He has elite size for the position and an improving jumpshot. Simmons is a guy that makes players around him better, and if the Tigers could lure him to Missouri it would be a HUGE get. MY GUESS AT MIZZOU's CHANCES: 20%
Powerful and explosive are two adjectives that aptly describe Miles Bridges. Bridges can get to the hole, quickly and with power. He was long thought to be a Michigan State Spartan lock, but Mizzou has crept up the charts a bit with Fulford ending up at Mizzou. Bridges has a college-ready body and is a highly ranked wing player who will make an immediate impact at the college level. MY GUESS AT MIZZOU's CHANCES: 40%
The RISING star
Jones is a player who is slowly rising up the charts. He's a long and athletic point guard who has great speed and a good jump shot. He's joining the program at Huntington Prep to increase his exposure, and you will probably see his stock rise even further as he goes up against more elite players. MY GUESS AT MIZZOU's CHANCES: 35%
The In-State RISER
Cook is getting a lot of attention, as it benefits you to be high school and AAU teammates with Jayson Tatum. However, he and Tatum are not necessarily a package deal, and to get Tatum you don’t have to take Cook. Cook is his own player who is worthy of the offer list he has so far. He's got great hands, good feet and a solid body around the basket. He uses his size well, and will be a very effective big man in college. MY GUESS AT MIZZOU's CHANCES: 50%
Class of 2017
The Next In-State DIAMOND
Porter is a guy who we haven’t mentioned offiically because there just hasn't been any coverage for the 2017 class. However he is very high on the Tigers' radar due to the fact that he’s a top-5 talent, and his dad is an assistant in the Mizzou women's program. You'd have to consider the Tigers the favorite to keep him in town, but that's a long way away. He is a sophomore and has yet to be completely assaulted by the recruiting process. Getting him on campus with the guys ahead of him won't hurt, though. MY GUESS AT MIZZOU's CHANCES: 65%
To say this is a big weekend undersells the point. This could be the biggest weekend for Mizzou basketball in memory. It's unlikely that Mizzou lands all of these guys, and it's possible that the Tigers don't land any. But the fact that 10 of the nation's best players are coming to campus to see Mizzou says a lot about the direction that the coaching staff wants to take with the program. They want guys like Kevin Puryear and Cullen VanLeer to fill in spots on the roster, but they want the best players they can get to bring this program to new heights. No matter what happens, it's an exciting time to be an observer.
UPDATE: Kobi Simmons and Ted Kapita will not be making the trip this weekend. Simmons plans to make the trip to Mizzou for his unofficial visit in a few weeks, possibly the homecoming game. Kapita hasn't set a date, but will make an official visit later in the year.