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Johnathan Williams III and Missouri's new 2015-16 basketball roster

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News that your best player is transferring out is always hard to take, but how does this affect Missouri moving forward?

Beth Hall-USA TODAY Sports

When the news broke last night that Johnathan Williams III was planning on transferring from Missouri, I was taken aback. Of all the guys on the roster, I had him plugged in as the least likely (maybe after Ryan Rosburg) to leave Mizzou this year. You could make a reasoned case for just about anyone on the roster to decide to transfer, but seemingly the weakest case would be made for J3. That is, until he decides to leave.

It's really interesting that J3 is moving on, not because of his relationship with Coach Anderson, but because he didn't feel he fit in with his teammates. Ryan Rosburg was recently on record as saying his best friends on the team were probably Hayden Barnard and Keanau Post. The group of five freshmen seem to click together very well if you follow them on twitter. Wes Clark seemed to be close with Keith Shamburger, so where does that leave J3?

As somebody who has been a part of a lot of basketball teams, the good ones tend to have guys that bond throughout the team, but if you don't fit it it's hard to get excited about coming in to work. From that aspect I don't blame J3 for wanting to find a place where he fit in better. But it's still strange that the best player, and seemingly nicest guy on the team couldn't find a way to fit in.

I spoke with somebody close to the program about J3 after the news broke, as my first instinct was that this was Fuller related. It was expressed to me that it wasn't the case. And after the news came out from his dad, that seemed to confirm that were were alternate reasons for Williams to go. That he got along with and liked the coaches was something that is almost a relief at this point.

So how does that affect this recruiting cycle and the team moving forward?

Scholarship Breakdown 3-31

Mizzou (with now two open scholarships) was already in need of a post player and had seemingly settled on Russell Woods as their top JUCO target. Woods will be visiting in mid-April now, and at this point has to be considered a MUST get. But Woods was being looked at to fill the Keanau Post vacated scholarship, not the J3. So now the priority is landing two post players. It's been reported that Missouri was in to see Michael Edwards, a rising 3-star prospect who was a late bloomer but has been a bit of a hot commodity ... well, because good big men are hard to find.

After that, one of their backup plans, Kyle Meyer out of Eastern Florida CC committed to Houston, so he's out. Mike Thorne Jr. is an intriguing guy but his stock is way too high, but considering Thorne has only a year to play and Mizzou just lost its best player, the Tigers probably have no shot. In fact, I've been told that they've crossed him off of their list.

So where does Mizzou get another post player? Woods and Edwards wouldn't be a terrible solution, but losing J3 is a blow no matter what. J3 was a great rebounder who was miscast as the go-to guy. Thomas Bryant is a pipe dream at this point, but until he announces for Indiana I'm keeping him on the list, but please, people ... stop asking me about him. He's not coming to Missouri. The coaches know he isn't, people around the program know he isn't, I know he isn't. He's not coming. If something Infinitesimally wild happens and he ends up at Mizzou, then we'll all just be happy about it.

[UPDATED at 4:30 pm]:

Q & A: Thomas Bryant at McDonald's All-American media day - Inside the Hall

You mentioned (yesterday) that Syracuse and Kentucky hadn’t been in quite as much contact with you, would you say that Indiana is recruiting you the hardest right now?

"Yeah, Indiana and Missouri."

What about the Mizzou program is keeping them in the mix and what do you like about them?

"Just coach Rob (Fulford) being there and him being my old coach (at Huntington Prep) and also Montaque Gill-Caesar who was my old teammate last year and me and him have so much chemistry together and we just love playing with each other."

Bryant says he's still considering Missouri - Columbia Daily Tribune

He said he maintains regular contact with MU assistant Rob Fulford, his former coach at Huntington Prep.

"I talk to Coach Rob all the time," Bryant said. "Not really on that much of recruiting and everything, just seeing how I'm doing, seeing how the H-Prep team is doing. Just taking it each and every day, day by day, talking to Teki too, Montaque Gill-Caesar. Me and him talk a lot about the team. He always puts in there, 'I would love you either way, Thomas, but I would love to have you at Mizzou.' "

Rivals

Rating

Player

Status

-

3

Kevin Puryear

Committed Missouri

-

3

Cullen VanLeer

Committed Missouri

-

3

Terrence Phillips

Committed Missouri

36

4

Thomas Bryant

AVAILABLE

-

3

Russell Woods

JUCO AVAILABLE

-

3

Michael Edwards

AVAILABLE

-

3

Kyle Meyer

Committed to Houston

-

3

Mychal Mulder

JUCO AVAILABLE

-

4

Kobe Eubanks

AVAILABLE

-

3

Martavian Payne

JUCO AVAILABLE

-

3

Tyson Jolly

Mizzou out of top 5

Committed to Mizzou

The next few weeks and months are going to be so vital for the Kim Anderson era at Mizzou that I almost can't express it. Losing your best player at a position where you aren't deep is problematic. Kim has to stop the bleeding. And this is something that, despite a few glimmers of hope, has had very little continuity of any kind in the last 15 years. Mizzou can probably make things work with one more defection, maybe two. But you absolutely cannot lose more than that. You must keep Wes Clark, you have to hold onto as many freshmen as you can. And hopefully you can fill enough spots to start this thing back up in the right direction.

With a new AD lingering, it's hard to imagine the patience will be very long with a coaching staff that is lingering around 10 wins or so, when the other SEC schools have hired Rick Barnes, Ben Howland and possibly Gregg Marshall to go with John Calipari, Billy Donovan, Frank Martin and more. The road isn't getting easier. Kim Anderson and his team have to find some light at the end of a short tunnel.