Willie Jackson, 6-6 Small Forward, Garfield Heights, Ohio
Willie Jackson announces commitment to Missouri pic.twitter.com/CRBLshDerg— David Cassilo (@dcassilo) September 23, 2015
Willie Jackson has been featured a few times in our recruiting pieces. He was an under the radar offer in early July, the interest level was a lot higher in August when Xavier Sneed cut Mizzou from the list. We also talked about him last week as a preview to his visit, and he also got a mention in the Mitchell Smith commitment post, because he was on his official visit with Smith. Brian Austin at PowerMizzou.com posted this picture to twitter.
Willie Jackson, Mitchell Smith and the Porter boys visiting Mizzou. First two are on officials. pic.twitter.com/ceXAW9B011— Brian Austin (@btaustin) September 19, 2015
Jackson chose Mizzou over offers from Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Iowa State, Penn State, Boston College, Temple, Wichita State, and Akron. He had already taken visits to Penn State, Akron and Temple but cancelled a Boston College visit after the Mizzou visit, leading many to speculate that he had decided on Mizzou. The information I had was that Jackson was a silent commitment to Mizzou, but wanted to hold off on the announcement so he could have a ceremony at his school. I'm not the guy to blame a kid for wanting to have a little fun with his commitment.
Of the two commitments so far, I like Jackson more because of his versatility. He's still a raw offensive player, but he's got the tools to put it all together. He releases the ball high on his jumpshot and the ball comes off his hand well, so it's all working right, he just needs more reps. He's got great body control, and he's already a physical presence with the ability to pack on around 20 or so more pounds of muscle and become an absolute brute on the wing. His athletic upside is high and he's already strong enough to compete for minutes off the bat, but he'll need to improve his ball handling if he wants to be a significant contributor. Right now he plays more of a combo forward in high school, and with added weight he could compete for minutes at a post position, but his best fit is as a lock down wing.
|Garfield Heights, OH (Garfield Heights HS)||6'6 / 210|
Jackson's commitment means that Missouri does not have additional scholarships available to hand out. But as we've said all along, they plan to oversign by at least one scholarship, so look for one more player to be added. Before we get into roster implications let's watch Jackson dunk a lot.
As far as what this means for the roster, nailing down two positions of priority (and filling the last two scholarships) before the fall signing date means that they can swing for the fences now. They're going to go all in on Bam Adebayo and see what happens. The coaches are planning on visiting Bam and his mother this week to hopefully schedule an official visit. Up next he has a visit to Auburn set up this weekend, I couldn't confirm if that was an official or not.
The best case scenario is that Bam decides to wait until spring before announcing and Mizzou is able to exceed expectations on the season. The possibility of Bam seeing himself as the missing piece is about the only shot that Mizzou has. It's been rumored that he likes the idea of being "the guy" and at Mizzou he would be. If there is any path to a player of this quality, this is that path. If he commits in the fall, he's likely to land at either NC State or a blue blood program like Kentucky. If he heads elsewhere, he's going to be in a group of "the guys" and not "the guy". There aren't many scenarios where Mizzou is the destination for a player of that caliber, but that's the shot they have, and that's the shot they're going to take. There, now I've written more words on Bam Adebayo than I ever really expected to.
If Bam doesn't work out, there are several other post players who might be able to fill in a necessary third spot in the spring, if the scholarship is needed, obviously. We've said all along that Mizzou is looking at signing three for 2016, so that's how we're framing it. A few names I'm hearing at this stage are Iran Bennett and Bruno Fernando. Bennett is a 6'9 post guy with a BIG body, weighing in at around 290 lbs (rumors that he's lost weight have not been confirmed). But he's a guy with great feet and soft hands and could be ready to contribute from day 1. Coaches feel that he's a player that is a little under appreciated because of his size, but there have been wide bodies who have turned out to be great players in the past. B.J. Anya is a good example, but even Dametri Hill was nearly unstoppable for Florida back in the mid-90's.
Bruno Fernando is also a college ready body, but he may not have college ready transcripts. Fernando is from Angola and currently playing at Monteverde Academy in Florida. He's a Rivals top 150 player after inching in at 142 in the most recent rankings. And due to the eligibility concern, Fernando could do a post-grad year and end up being a 2017 player. We shall see.
Last two guys we should mention are Gorjok Gak and Reed Nikko, who I'm still working to confirm if he's still planning a visit. If Nikko comes on a visit, he likely doesn't have an offer to commit to. I think the coaches are likely to wait until spring short of getting a commitment from somebody unexpected. Gak has seen very little movement, and if I find anything out I'll pass it along.
Here's the Scholarship count.
That's all I've got. Congrats to Willie Jackson on being the newest Tiger!