The exodus has started:
Missouri sophomore D'Angelo Allen 6'8" SF will be leaving the team and looking to transfer for his last 2yr to play. @ReggieRankin— texasboysbasketball (@TXboysbasketbal) February 29, 2016
Kim Anderson made it official via a press release moments ago:
Mizzou makes it official on Allen’s transfer pic.twitter.com/ZcUxJPKn2W— Sam Snelling (@SamSnellingRMN) February 29, 2016
This isn't really surprising anyone. Allen was expected to be the most likely to transfer since he hasn't played much at all this season. So, I took the liberty of updating the scholarship count graphic:
The exodus isn't done, I'd expect at least one more defection, possibly two... but I'd be a little surprised by more than two. Before we dive into the transfer situation, let's talk first big picture and growth and getting better and "is our children learning"?
If this season feels a little better than last year, it's because it was... if only slightly. With two games to go, MIzzou was 197 in KenPom in 2015, and they're currently 175. With just two games to go we're getting a pretty good idea of where Missouri is going to finish the season, so let's look at the numbers side by side:
I've put some markers next to the noted improvement and the few areas where the team is actually worse than last year. One thing to note is that Missouri's schedule was 19th a year ago, and only 55th this year. Part of that is the overall strength of the SEC is down, helped by Kentucky not being completely dominant, and Arizona not being quite as good this year as they were last year. But overall Missouri played tough schedules in the non-conference both years. So it's certainly interesting that while the team got younger, they improved offensively despite being one of the worst teams in Division One in three point shooting. They got a little smaller, so they get their shot blocked more often, but overall the offensive improvement is nice to see considering how young the Tigers were.
It's reasonable to expect that with the freshman class growing and maturing in the offseason, that Missouri will improve on their still pedestrian offensive numbers. Instead of being an average Division One team, it shouldn't be unreasonable to ask them to start cracking the top 100 in a lot of those categories.
3-PT Shooting: The shooting from beyond the arc has been abysmal. However I think you can chalk that up to their two best shooters being a freshman who has had to adjust to the speed of a high major basketball game, and a sophomore who has slumped for much of the year. If both Cullen and Namon return next year, I'd expect them both to be 5-10% up on their shooting from beyond the arc, which would greatly improve Missouri's chances of being more competitive next season.
Defense: There's no getting around the fact that the Tigers were worse on the defensive end of the floor this season. Last year they forced teams to play at a slower plodding pace and it paid off, but with the improvement on offense and the trimming of the shot clock, the Tigers struggled in a lot of areas defensively. One of the main reasons is that they played small a lot, with two Point Guards, and none of those three (Wes Clark, Terrence Phillips & Tramaine Isabell) were particularly good defenders. Phillips can evolve into a good defender, he has just never had to play the way he has to play at this point. At Oak Hill he could be risky and take chances because he always had size and athleticism to back him up if he got beat, he doesn't have that luxury now. Added weight will go a long way in making him a better on ball defender, and I'd expect him to put on 10 or so pounds in the offseason.
D'Angelo: With the news of D'Angelo Allen moving on, an update to the APR situation seems warranted (for background, read my APR piece here). Steve Walentik hosted his weekly Courtside View chat on Friday and this question popped up:
Now if it's true (and if you can't trust Steve Walentik's reporting WHAT CAN YOU TRUST IN THIS WORLD?) and Wes Clark does not count against Missouri for the spring semester (further proving how stupid this whole APR thing is), and if you add in the Allen transfer then that would push Missouri's projected APR score for 2016 to 934 for the single year, and multi-year at 931. Why this is incredibly important is this completely changed Missouri's projected APR score so they they can have this one single non-qualified departure (a transfer who does not have a 2.6 or higher) and still remain above the 930 threshold where sanctions are possible. Based on what I've been told, I am marking him as a lost retention point.
Beyond Allen, who else is leaving? When it comes to a 10 win team, there's nobody that isn't at least somewhat replaceable. The staff seems enamored with the freshmen class, and I expect they'll make sure all four return next season. Jordan Barnett is also easy to eliminate as a possibility since he just transferred in and is both a high character guy but also a player that has been making big impressions in practice and could be looked at to start next season once he's eligible.
There's also been plenty of discussion about the rest of the sophomore class, as the coaches and others around the program have, off and on, been displeased with as a whole. However, the most important guy in that class now that Wes Clark is gone, might be Tramaine Isabell. Isabell is a guy who has certainly had his ups and downs over the last few years, but he's shown over the last few games that he can score, and he does one thing well that Missouri needs on the roster and that's handle the basketball. Missouri is looking for another player who can handle the ball during the offseason, but Kim Anderson has shown a preference for three ball handlers on the roster... currently they have two. Isabell is a good student, and could transfer without costing a retention point, but right now it doesn't seem clear if they would want Isabell to move on. I think you can say the same about Namon Wright as well, there's certainly a lot of improvement with Wright if you look past his shooting struggles. However with Barnett, VanLeer, Walton, Willie Jackson and possibly one more wing coming in next year, that position is certainly crowded. Wright is also a good student, which means that his grades are likely to be good enough to leave without costing a retention point.
Jakeenan Gant is certainly a curious case. He is in a position of need, by having a post player with experience, on top of that, I've heard that Gant isn't quite the student that Isabell and Wright are, which means he may be in a position to cost Mizzou a retention point if he decides to transfer. So while Mizzou can use Gant, and we've seen steps towards improvement, we still don't see enough "Good Jakeenan" during games, but we've seen enough to know that "Good Jakeenan" can make this team much more dangerous. I also don't expect Russell Woods to leave,
At least now that we've seen the roster turn begin, and we'll start to gain a much better idea of what the Tigers are going to look like going into next season over the next few months. Once the season wraps up, I don't think it will take long for us to know the fate of Kim Anderson. We'll either be scrambling to put together information for a coaching search (I doubt it) or we'll see one or two more players exit the program and set things up for a 100% Kim Anderson roster. Whatever that might look like.