It's February, the season is mercifully ending soon (thankfully), and what we know now that Mizzou is a bad basketball team (despite Tuesday's win, that doesn't change that they've still lost 20 games this season). The struggle of the season is often compounded when recruits lose interest in your program because those wins aren't coming. It can easily turn into a cyclical problem. If there's good news on that front, is that it doesn't appear that many of the main targets have been scared off by the Tigers struggles on the court this year.
And as things are progressing on the 2015 schedule, we're going to start including some 2016 names as we try to figure out not just WHO Mizzou is recruiting, but how the roster spots should play out over the next few years. Then once the season wraps up, we'll start to see what sort of attrition the roster will suffer and we'll be able to see how the Tigers plan on replacing anyone who leaves. Here's the current scholarship count...
We know the three players coming so far, we know there is one scholarship available. I expect AT LEAST one scholarship more to open up, and possibly two. So has there been movement in any of the players that Mizzou was previously recruiting? Let's take a look at that...
The Bad News:
- Ted Kapita, who is a Huntington Prep kid, pledged a commitment to the Arkansas Razorbacks. Kapita had a top 3 of Mizzou, Arky and Memphis, and many felt that Mizzou was in the lead. So what changed? Apparently Mizzou coaches had cooled a bit on Kapita as they decided to put resources elsewhere. Now did they cool because Kapita had cooled on Mizzou? Nobody really knows, but either way he's going to Arkansas. Kapita has been slowed all year by a hip injury, and concern over the injury is one of the possible reasons that the Mizzou coaches may have cooled on him.
- Jaquan Lyle committed to Ohio State. I said Oregon or LSU last time around and I was wrong. Lyle went on a visit to OSU and pledged shortly after.
- Thon Maker has officially reclassified to 2015, he will not be coming to Missouri. Apparently he will decide between Kentucky and Kansas or not college basketball.
- Not really bad news, but I'll put it here anyway since it involves a player NOT coming to Missouri, but the Tigers and JUCO PG Dequon Miller have all but stopped communication. I think the commitment of Terrence Phillips, and the improved play from Wes Clark prior to his injury is what prevented this from being a match. But it looks like he might end up at Tennessee, so that'll be fun.
The Good News:
- Levi Cook has scheduled an official visit in March. It seems clear the Tigers are looking hard at big post guys, and Cook fits that bill. With Cook visiting, that means that Mizzou will have used 8 of their 12 allowed Official Visits (the other seven being: Puryear, VanLeer, Phillips, Thomas Bryant, Isaiah Briscoe, Ted Kapita, and Antonio Blakeney). You can read more about Cook in our December edition.
- Kobe Eubanks hasn't trimmed down his list yet, and is still figuring out his visits in the spring, but it's looking likely that Missouri will get one. Eubanks is a 4-star Shooting Guard who we also talked about in the December Edition. If Missouri gets an Official Visit from Eubanks, that likely means he's strongly considering Mizzou along with UCLA, Georgia, Oregon and Texas. UGa does seem to have some momentum there though.
The Other News:
- Thomas Bryant is still uncommitted and open. The latest is that Mizzou is in a fight with... Indiana for his services. Kentucky isn't out of it, Syracuse mostly is. I've felt all along that Indiana was a darkhorse and being overlooked because they can provide him instant playing time, and surround him with a lot of good players. Bryant does a good job of keeping things close to the vest, and Mizzou is still in the picture, but I do think that the season struggles have probably put them in the back seat to IU. I also don't get the impression he's going to end up at Kentucky, I just think that UK will have too many bigs coming back and coming in. But you never count out Coach Cal.
- Mychael Mulder, a 4-star wing from the undefeated Vincennes Community College, is having a heck of a year. We first talked about him in the December Edition. His recruitment still hasn't taken off though, and it looks like Mizzou is one of the few schools at this point to have offered. So getting a visit in the spring seems likely. With him, Cook and Eubanks, that would leave Mizzou with 2 OV's left to give out.
- Tyson Jolly, who we talked about as an emerging name for 2015 in the last roundup, is giving thought to reclassifying to 2016. I briefly mentioned his health issues during his junior year, and it's for that reason that Jolly is thinking of going to 2016. If he reclassifies, I think Missouri's interest might wane because there are some other 2016 wing targets that I think they'll place a higher priority on.
- Still no word on whether or not Jamal Murray plans on reclassifying. If he does, it will likely be a situation like Montaque Gill-Caesar where he announces after the AAU season wraps up, so it might be early August. If that's the case, it will come down to who has room for him, and I'm sure there will be teams that have a scholarship available to hand out at that point. It's possible that Mizzou is one of those teams, though Oregon seems to have momentum there, and they're fighting with Michigan, Wake Forest, Michigan State and Syracuse.
Okay, I think I've addressed just about everyone that we've talked about previously for the 2015 class, and any possibilities. So my plan is to deviate just a bit from the normal routine of listing some new names and how Mizzou fits into the picture. I want to frame this as a discussion on how it will impact the roster. So Let's try this out and see how it works.
2015, What's the deal?
Departing: Keith Shamburger, Keanau Post
Coming in: Kevin Puryear, Cullen VanLeer, Terrence Phillips
Coming back: Deuce Bello, Ryan Rosburg, Johnathan Williams III, Wes Clark, Jakeenan Gant, Montaque Gill-Caesar, Namon Wright, D'Angelo Allen, Tramaine Isabell
The roster picture is obviously a little cloudy, but I'd expect it to clear up by sometime in mid-late April. Mostly by that time we'll have anyone who is transferring out already known, and there might be a spring signing or two by that point as well. Currently there is one scholarship to give. That goes to Thomas Bryant if he wants it. Bryant is bar none the top target for the staff. He's an immediate contributor and a likely multi year player that can be a fixture on the block for a few years. If Mizzou doesn't land Bryant, they have a few other guys they are looking at. I think Levi Cook is one of them, but there haven't been any other strong offers beyond those two, There are also a few names floating around that I don't think will be in the picture much more than the coaches kicking the tires a bit, but here are a few names to chew on.
The Lowdown: Meyer is a big man from Georgia who originally committed to Iowa out of High School. He redshirted his first year there, then transferred to Eastern Florida State where he is currently averaging about 15 pts and 8 rebounds on a good JUCO team. He does not currently have a Missouri offer, but they are keeping track of him.
The Lowdown: Alexander is a mobile 6-10 Canadian with a 7-4 wingspan, who is seeing his recruitment starting to pick up significantly. Obviously Missouri has mined Canada before, and is still in with Jamal Murray, but I don't think that Alexander is anything more than a backup plan at this point. Depending on how things go over the next month or so, I could see him slipping past Cook on the priority scale, as he's got a higher upside, but Cook has the more college ready body.
The Lowdown: A good prospect (think similar player to Torren Jones) from Georgia who is a little raw but a great athlete who has the body to compete right away, but maybe not the skill set. This is a situation where Davis does not have an offer, and it's unclear whether one is going to come. But if plan A, B and C don't work out, they could turn to Davis.
So, the post options (combo of what I've read/heard and what I think) are:
- Thomas Bryant
- Levi Cook
- Kyle Meyer
- Kyle Alexander
- Unknown JUCO Big
- Shawntrez Davis
Where things get a little interesting is with attrition from the roster, which the coaches are expecting, and frankly you should too. I'll be stunned if all 5 freshmen come back. I think at least 3 return, probably 4, and not 5. No matter who leaves, you want to make sure you have something lined up to replace that player depending on the position. So they're probably looking at an attacking scoring wing player, a combo guard and possibly a swing forward. And they're also probably looking at players who can help right away. So that would be 5th year transfers, similar to Keith Shamburger, you'll also remember they looked into Antoine Mason and Jon Octeus last summer as well. The only names I can say with any certainty at this point is that they'll likely look into Aaron Cosby and possibly Marcus Marshall, and only those so far because they are no longer with their teams. It's far more likely they end up with somebody who finished their year in good standing with their team.
Their top target at wing appears to be Mychal Mulder. Outside of him, the only other 2015 wing they seemed to be pursuing was Tyson Jolly who we just mentioned might be going to 2016. Now Mizzou will need to solidify the perimeter if there are exits from some of the players and this is where I talk about 5th year transfers. Mizzou really would like to have 3 scholarships available to give out in 2016. That would land them a big like Tyler Cook, a wing like Xavier Sneed, and maybe a 5-star talent like Jayson Tatum or Kobi Simmons (I've heard they're actually in better position with Simmons than Tatum). So that's something that will be important to keep in mind as the 2015 class wraps up. There are a few new guys who we haven't talked about but I haven't heard that there is a LOT of interest from Missouri but that they're tracking... names like Johnny Woodward and Austin Pope, but I think those two are backup plans to Mulder.
Anyway, these are all the names I'm tracking right now for 2015.
Other names like Lukas Meisner are still out there, but I just don't see the need on the roster right now for a spot like that. Alex Olesinski is another stretch 4, but in a similar way to Meisner I just don't see the immediate fit. So I'll mention them, but that's about it. Until Mizzou gets serious about those players they only warrant a footnote.
What to expect
Everything is going to be quiet until Thomas Bryant makes a decision, then I think you'll start to see those dominoes fall. Once Bryant decides, Missouri will know if they've got the post position locked down. They may still look to add another big, but the scoring wing comes next. And then I personally think Mizzou has two departures off the roster and with that last spot they pick up a 5th year senior guard. If for some reason an unexpected big leaves the roster then I think they might add one more big, but I don't see that happening.
What I expect is that regardless of what Bryant does, Mizzou loses two scholarships to transfers and they end up with a big (let's all hope it's Bryant), Mulder and a 5th year combo guard type.