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Catching Up On Mizzou Basketball Recruiting

With at least two scholarships opening up at the end of this upcoming season, Head Coach Kim Anderson and team have been busy during the July evaluation period. Let's get caught up on who they've been watching.

The month of July is the insanity period for college basketball recruiting most commonly referred to as the July evaluation period. As it winds down reports of who Mizzou has offered can help you glean what the staff is prioritizing for this year and the next. What we're going to do with this piece is talk about who Mizzou has offered, who they are prioritizing, and what that means for the future of the roster. I'm going to mainly focus on the 2015 class today, as these are the players who are most likely to commit before the season starts.

Since we went through a coaching change there can be some interesting aspects of players with offers from one staff, that are still listed as having that offer, and whether or not they still have that offer with the new coach. So what I've tried to do is just take the guys who have received an offer since Kim Anderson took over. Plus one.

So let's get to the players, in order of their Rivals ranking:

Stephen Zimmerman, 7-0 230 lb Center, Bishop Gorman HS in Las Vegas, NV

Who he is: Zimmerman is a 5-star big man ranked 7th in the country at any position. A lefty, he has a wide skill set that has college coaches drooling. He passes well, has a soft touch around the rim and can stretch the defense with his shooting.

How Mizzou is in the picture: Coach Rob Fulford has a previous relationship with Zimmerman and his family from his days at Huntington. While it's unlikely that Zimmerman pledges to Missouri, his mom has said that pre-existing relationship with Fulford has meant that if any team not currently in the sweepstakes for this young man, only Missouri has the possibility of jumping in late.

Is there a chance?: Not likely. Zimmerman recently announced that he'll be taking 5 official visits. Mizzou was not one of them. The 5 are Arizona (the apparent leader), UCLA, UNC, Kentucky and Kansas.

Antonio Blakeney, 6-3 180 lb Combo Guard, Oak Ridge HS in Orlando, FL

Who he is: Blakeney is a 5-star guard ranked 16th in the country at any position. A high level athlete, he has the ability to handle the ball at the point or play off the ball as well. A great shooter and scorer Blakeney has seen his stock skyrocket over the past year to the point where he has everybody in the country offering him a scholarship at this point.

How Mizzou is in the picture: Blakeney has been recruited by Tim Fuller since Frank Haith was the head coach. We all know that Fuller has a way of building relationships and has done so in the southeastern part of the country.

Is there a chance?: Looks like it...

Most of the national recruiting analysts don't seem to think so, however. And I tend to agree. It's highly unlikely that Mizzou even gets more than a casual look from Blakeney. As most seem to think that he's headed to Kentucky, Louisville or Florida State although LSU is making a strong late push.

Caleb Swanigan, 6-8 260 lb Center, Homestead HS in Fort Wayne, IN

Who he is: Swanigan is a 5-star Center ranked 20th in the country. He is a wide body with soft hands and good feet. Swanigan isn't going to blow anyone away with his athletic prowess, but he's extremely effective around the rim and competes well against players a lot taller than he is. Caleb has a developing jumpshot also and is dangerous up to about 15 feet away from the hoop.

How Mizzou is in the picture: Not really known at this point as Mizzou very recently extended an offer to Swanigan.

Is there a chance?: A slight one. Swanigan is a top 20 recruit but many of the normal blue blood schools aren't getting in the mix the way they are with other guys at his level. Michigan State appears to be the big leader at this point, with Louisville also in the mix. But outside of that Swanigan appears to be wide open.

Montaque Gill-Caesar, 6-6 195 lb Wing, Huntington Prep in Huntington, WV

Who he is: MGC is a 4-star Wing-Forward ranked 31st in the country. He's an explosive athlete with a great body who is effective around the rim and has very good mid-range game. His outside shot is still a bit of a work in progress but he's acceptable out there.

How Mizzou is in the picture: Unless you've been living in a cave, you know that new Mizzou assistant coach Rob Fulford's previous job was at Huntington Prep where he coached MGC. MGC has already been on campus and Mizzou was able to get in late on him because he is considering reclassifying to 2014 and Mizzou is one of a few schools that still has a spot available that also employs a coach that MGC is close to.

Is there a chance?: Quite frankly I expect MGC to reclassify to 2014 and pledge to Mizzou very soon. If he doesn't reclassify he has to find a prep school to attend next year as he's already graduated HS. If that happens I think the odds of Mizzou landing him go down slightly as that gives other schools a chance to make a pitch. But right now I'd put the odds at 90%.

Thomas Bryant, 6-10 230 lb Center, Huntington Prep in Huntington, WV

Who he is: Bryant is a 4-star Center ranked 34th in the country. He's a prototypical center who's a solid athlete and has good hands around the rim. He's a strong finisher who has a developing jump shot to go along with the rest of his game.

How Mizzou is in the picture: See MGC above. Bryant is a player at Huntington and is familiar with Fulford.

Is there a chance?: Yes but it won't be easy. Bryant is a native of upstate New York and Syracuse has been the projected leader for a long time. Mizzou is probably a close second at this point and Anderson and Fulford will have to convince Bryant and his mother that Mizzou is the right place despite being pretty far away from home. The other schools in the mix are West Virginia, Villanova, Seton Hall, Kansas and Florida.

Jimmy Whitt, 6-2 170 lb Combo Guard, Hickman HS in Columbia, MO

Who he is: Whitt is the 52nd ranked player in the country and a 4-star guard right in Mizzou's backyard. He's a smooth athlete with possibly the best mid-range jump shot in the country. Whitt has the ability to play both on and off the ball and do so effectively. He also has elite defending ability which should help him transition from HS to the college game quickly.

How Mizzou is in the picture: It was rumored that Mizzou was not really in the picture until Kim Anderson took over. Coach Tim Fuller was maintaining contact with Whitt but new assistant Brad Loos has taken over the job and has pushed Mizzou way up the chart. Obviously trying to keep the top instate player home is a big job but an important one. So it's heartening to hear that Mizzou is making the right inroads.

Is there a chance?: The winds seem to be favoring Mizzou in the recent weeks with Whitt. Arkansas was the leader for a while as Mizzou's previous coaching staff was able to build a relationship with the Whitt family while here, and maintained that with the move to Fayetteville. Mizzou appears to be the leader for Whitt at this point which is great news, but he's ascended the charts and will likely see more offers come in the door until he signs. Other schools in the mix are SMU, Marquette, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Illinois and California.

Shake Milton, 6-5 190 lb Guard, Owasso HS in Owasso, OK

Who he is: Milton is a silky smooth 4-star guard currently ranked 63rd in the country. He's not an explosive athlete but has great footwork and a good jump shot to go along with good size and very good ball handling skills.

How Mizzou is in the picture: Milton plays AAU basketball for MoKan Elite, which is the same squad that Jimmy Whitt and Juwan Morgan (he's coming up) play for, and both are being recruited by Mizzou. Milton is a recent Mizzou offer so it's unclear who is taking the lead on the recruitment.

Is there a chance?: There is, but probably not a great one. Milton is very close friends with Juwan Morgan, and they've taken several visits together but there is no indication that they are planning on attending school together. Oklahoma and Indiana appear to be the leaders for Milton at this point. But the sweepstakes for Milton are heating up as he wasn't even in the top 100 rankings just last year.  Other teams in the mix are Illinois, Creighton and Baylor.

Juwan Morgan, 6-7 210 lb Forward, Waynesville HS in Waynesville, MO

Who he is: Morgan is a developing inside presence who recently got bumped to a 4th star is is currently ranked as the 106th player in the country. He's a springy power forward with a developing jump shot which could turn him into a future stretch 4 type of player. He's lethal around the rim because of his bounce off the floor.

How Mizzou is in the picture: Morgan was in the picture for Mizzou under Frank Haith, but that effort has been stepped up since Anderson took over. Morgan recently received his offer from Mizzou and Brad Loos is the lead recruiter on him. He's the second highest rated player in the state. Plus he plays for MoKan Elite with Whitt and Milton.

Is there a chance?: Yes. Being the home state school is a plus, but there is some ground to make up. Vanderbilt has been on Morgan the most, with Wake Forest, Illinois, Northwestern, Iowa and Creighton also sitting in good position.

Alex Owens, 6-8 245 lb Forward, Oak Ridge HS in Orlando, FL

Who he is: Owens is a big body power forward and a borderline 3/4-star player ranked 108th in the country. His big body and soft hands allow him to create space and get off shots around taller players but he doesn't have much range outside of 8-10 feet right now.

How Mizzou is in the picture: This is a curious case because Mizzou was in really good shape under Frank Haith. The interest had cooled when Anderson took over but Owens recently announced his top 5 and Mizzou was on the list. A few days later he trimmed it to 3 and Mizzou was still there. So it appears as though Coach Fuller has still be keeping in touch enough to be a finalist.

Is there a chance?: When you make the top 3? Yes. But I wouldn't bank on it. It's strictly my opinion but I can imagine that Owens is a high priority for this staff and I would be surprised if they accepted a commitment without hearing from other players first. Providence and UCF are the other 2 in the top 3. Owens originally committed to UCF, I think he'll end up back there.

Here is the offer breakdown by position.

Point Guards Wings Posts
Antonio Blakeney
Jimmy Whitt
Montique Gill-Caesar
Shake Milton
Stephen Zimmerman
Thomas Bryant
Caleb Swanigan
Juwan Morgan
Alex Owens

Other players that Mizzou has been keeping a close eye on, so we might want to as well:

Point Guards Wings Posts
none Cullen VanLeer
Dillon Brooks
Landry Shamet
Jacob Evans
Danjel Purifoy
Chris Clarke
Kaiser Gates
OG Anunoby
Cheik Diallo
Kevin Puryear

A quick take on these names. VanLeer (unrated - Pacific), Shamet (3-star Park Hill), Anunoby (3-star Jefferson City) & Puryear (unrated Blue Springs) are all local and will likely be backups in case something falls through. Gates (4-star Alpharetta, GA) had an offer and was a Missouri lean under Haith, I don't know how much Missouri is still interested but he is still listed as a Mizzou lean on several sites. Clarke (4-star Virginia Beach, VA) is one of my favorites because he plays really really hard. You can coach a lot of things but guys who just know how to play hard are difficult to find. Diallo (5-star Centereach, NY) is the 5th ranked player in the country, Mizzou has been keeping tabs as he is AAU teammates with Bryant, but I doubt anything happens there.

From there lets transition into priorities. Mizzou is apparently wanting a wing, a big and a guy who can handle the ball with these three slots currently open. Let's first cover the bigs. The three recent offers to Centers it would seem that Mizzou is placing a big priority on finding a big guy to place in this class and a true center at that. Of the three, Bryant is the most likely to end up at Mizzou. With Fulford on board you have to like your chances. He obviously trusts his old coach, and I think that relationship is enough to overcome the hometown team in New York. Bryant (ranked as high as 10th by ESPN) also has reason to think that Mizzou would be a good fit moreso than Syracuse who already has two bigs committed in the 2015 class. I think Morgan is the backup if Bryant doesn't commit. Morgan is a more versatile player than Bryant, so he could easily project as a wing a few years down the road.

I mentioned above that MGC is though to be reclassifying and coming to Mizzou, so that would fill the wing slot. If he doesn't reclassify, the odds of Mizzou landing him go down. At that point I think Shake Milton and Kaiser Gates get the attention. But it's clear that MGC is the one that Mizzou wants the most. He's likely a guy who will come in a touch early, but you should have for 3 years because of that.

And then it all comes to the combo guard, I have to think that Jimmy Whitt is the top priority. He's the number one player in the state and a 4-star guard that is a big position of need. He has serious talent and as a Missouri kid I would have him as number one even over Blakeney. The discussion seems to be that since Kim Anderson has come on board that keeping Jimmy Whitt in Columbia has become the top priority in 2015. And for something that before Anderson seemed very unlikely, it is a good sign that Whitt seems likely to stay at this point. A lot can change in a few months but Mizzou is sitting in a good place.

It's hard to say no to a player like Blakeney and making the top 7 isn't nothing, I just have a hard time imagining a scenario where he pledges to Mizzou. If Mizzou was to land Blakeney it would certainly get complicated and I would be willing to bet that "things work themselves out" as in you'll see a scholarship open up by a player leaving. If Mizzou ends up with neither Whitt nor Blakeney, I can see them shifting hard towards Milton or Shamet. I think both project more as true Shooting Guards, but I don't think Mizzou would be that picky with a few Point Guards still on the roster.

If I had to project a 2015 class today it would be Whitt, Bryant and MGC. I like the looks of this...

2014-15 2015-16 2016-17
Point Guards Keith Shamburger (Sr.)
Wes Clark (So.)
Tramaine Isabell (Fr.)

Wes Clark (Jr.)
Tramaine Isabell (So.)
Jimmy Whitt (Fr.)

Wes Clark (Sr.)
Tramaine Isabell (Jr.)
Jimmy Whitt (So.)
Wings Deuce Bello (Jr.)
Cameron Biedscheid (So.)
Namon Wright (Fr.)
D'Angelo Allen (Fr.)
Montaque Gill Caesar (Fr.)
Deuce Bello (Sr.)
Cameron Biedscheid (Jr.)
Namon Wright (So.)
D'Angelo Allen (So.)
Montaque Gill-Caesar (So.)
Cameron Biedscheid (Sr.)
Namon Wright (Jr.)
D'Angelo Allen (Jr.)
Montaque Gill-Caesar (Jr.)
Posts Keanau Post (Sr.)
Ryan Rosburg (Jr.)
Johnathan Williams III (So.)
Torren Jones (So.)
Jakeenan Gant (Fr.)
Ryan Rosburg (Sr.)
Johnathan Williams III (Jr.)
Torren Jones (Jr.)
Jakeenan Gant (So.)
Thomas Bryant (Fr.)
Johnathan Williams III (Sr.)
Torren Jones (Sr.)
Jakeenan Gant (Jr.)
Thomas Bryant (So.)
Total Scholarships 13 13 11