Last week the FBI reset the 2018 recruiting board for Cuonzo Martin and Mizzou, yet again. Back in early August, we were looking at the 2018 class as a solid yet unremarkable class of players who could fill needs and build a solid foundation. Then Torrence Watson backed off his pledge to Ohio State, and the first reset happened. Then came the second reboot when Carte'Are Gordon’s flirtation unfolded. Or maybe it is still happening.
And now, the top overall player in Missouri and former Louisville commit Courtney Ramey is available. And well, Cuonzo decided to do something about it.
Cuonzo Martin took his full staff to see five-star guard Courtney Ramey today, according to his father.— Evan Daniels (@EvanDaniels) October 3, 2017
Coincidentally, or not...
#Mizzou is now up to 57% in the crystal ball for Courtney Ramey. pic.twitter.com/d524tVHFuF— Mizzou Sports (@MizzouSports) October 3, 2017
Now, this is all very premature. The Ramey’s previously made a methodical and educated decision, by picking a top Adidas school with a Hall of Fame coach in a premier league. I don’t think Courtney will make a rash decision on the matter this time around, but Martin and staff have shown he’ll have a home in Columbia if he wants one.
Texas, Illinois, Ohio St, Mizzou, Arkansas, Marquette, Purdue, Clemson, Wake, Cinci & Tex A&M have reiterated their offer for Courtney Ramey— Corey Evans (@coreyevans_10) October 3, 2017
The other players: Several schools have jumped to ‘officially’ re-offer Ramey once he backed away from the Cardinals. Purdue and Ohio State have already visited. You'd imagine they’ll fight tooth and nail for his services because the need is greater for them than for the Tigers, who return Blake Harris and Terrence Phillips next year at point guard.
But if Cuonzo Martin is showing up full stop the way he did, he obviously thinks Ramey can be the difference maker at a position lacking proven difference makers. Harris is a freshman who hasn’t played a game. Meanwhile, Phillips has yet to lead a team to more than 10 wins in a season. Martin can also boast that Ramey will get to play with his long-time AAU teammate and friend Torrence Watson just a few hours from home in St. Louis.
Rivals’ Corey Evans had a good take on the situation, and it is important that, despite recent successes, it may be tough to view Mizzou as the favorite here.
Who else might make a push for Ramey this fall? A number of Big Ten programs have already solidified their future at the point guard position, though, it's worth keeping an eye on Purdue and Ohio State.
The Boilermakers dispatched an assistant coach to watch Ramey on Thursday, just two days after his decommitment. Purdue will lose P.J. Thompson, its stalwart at the lead guard position, after this season, and are also actively recruiting former DePaul commit and four-star guard Tyger Campbell.
Ohio State is a program that has made major moves within recent weeks thanks to a number of commitments. The Buckeyes still have a hole at the point guard position and could become solid competitors for Ramey’s signature.
So strap up. I don’t think this is going to go quickly and could last until well into the spring. But then again, when it comes to recruiting, it could get wrapped up next week.
No news on the Carte’Are Gordon front. He took an official visit to SLU, had a good time, and seems to be happy with his commitment. If he decides to decommit, Mizzou will pursue him. If he doesn’t, he lands at SLU. If I were a SLU fan or on the coaching staff, I wouldn’t exhale just yet.
- Jericole Hellems? Anyone? No? No idea? Me either. The Chaminade product has taken visits to North Carolina State and South Carolina. Two weeks ago on Arkansas radio, he said the Razorbacks might be in line for a visit. But Mizzou has done its due diligence and checked in on Hellems at open gyms.
- Alex Lomax is running lower on options as Florida got their point guard. Vandy looks to be in good shape with their top option of Darius Garland. Lomax has visited Ole Miss and Wichita State. Memphis and Missouri are also still in the mix, but it seems as if Martin and Co. have trended away.
- Ian Steere is back on the market but most seem to think he’s gonna stay in North Carolina. He’s set too anounce tomorrow, and it’s widely predicted the choice will be North Carolina State.
- So at this point, the class could be done with, while Mizzou would more than oblige making room for Gordon and Ramey.
OK, here’s who should you care about in 2019
The narrative—yes, we hate using the word, too—taking root is Martin seems poised to end nearly four decades of recruiting futility in the St. Louis metro area. Now that’s not wrong. Nor is it entirely accurate. As with most situations, the truth falls somewhere in the middle.
Unlike his predecessors, Martin’s arrival coincides with a bumper crop of talent filling the rosters for grassroots programs—Bradley Beal Elite, MoKan Elite and KC Run GMC— on both sides of the state. Currently, the balance of power tilts slightly toward St. Louis, where Martin’s ties and personal narrative can help him get traction.
And it explains how the staff has approached its 2019 recruiting board. The first 11 prospects offered were from the Midwest, and all but three—Rocket Watts Jr., Romeo Weems and D.J. Carton—hail from grassroots programs other than those mentioned above. Additionally, a majority of those prospects have already set foot on campus for unofficial visits.
We’ve done our best to sketch out what the recruiting board looks like in the spreadsheet below. You’ll notice that in September, the staff expanded the scope of their efforts to national prospects like James Wiseman, Keion Brooks, D.J. Jeffries and Ashton Hagans, who is the top point guard in the class and been watched live by Martin twice. Whether they get traction is another matter, but seeing if offers pique a recruit’s interest isn’t a wasted resource right now. Mizzou is on solid enough footing with local talent that it has the flexibility to see if it can play in other recruiting grounds like Atlanta and Memphis.
Class of 2019 Scholarship Offers
|Last Name||First Name||Height||Weight||Position||City||State||HS||AAU||Offered||Rivals|
|Last Name||First Name||Height||Weight||Position||City||State||HS||AAU||Offered||Rivals|
|Robinson-Earl||Jeremiah||6'8"||220||Combo Forward||Roeland Park||KS||Bishop Miege||KC Run GMC (UAA)||4/21/17||16|
|Watts||Rocket||6'2"||160||Point Guard||Detroit||MI||Old Redford Academy||The Family Detroit (Nike)||5/2/17||68|
|Weems||Romeo||6'5"||180||Wing||New Haven||MI||New Haven||The Family Detroit (Nike)||5/4/17||23|
|Liddell||E.J.||6'7"||220||Post||Belleville||IL||Belleville West||Bradley Beal Elite (Nike)||5/10/17||96|
|McKinney||Mario||6'2"||180||Combo Guard||St. Louis||MO||Vashon||Bradley Beal Elite (Nike)||6/18/17||73|
|Okoro||Francis||6'9"||225||Post||Normal||IL||Normal West||Bradley Beal Elite (Nike)||6/18/17||26|
|Mosley||Isiaih||6'5"||185||Wing||Columbia||MO||Rock Bridge||MoKan Elite (Nike)||6/19/17||126|
|Collins||Yuri||5'11"||165||Point Guard||St. Louis||MO||St. Mary's||Bradley Beal Elite (Nike)||6/20/17||NR|
|Hall||Malik||6'7"||186||Combo Forward||Aurora||IL||Sunrise Christian Academy||MoKan Elite (Nike)||6/21/17||49|
|Hargrove||Terrence||6'6"||200||Wing||East St. Louis||IL||East St. Louis||Bradley Beal Elite (Nike)||7/31/17||NR|
|Carton||D.J.||6'1"||175||Point Guard||Bettendorf||IA||Bettendorf||Quad City Elite (NY2LA)||7/31/17||70|
|Nickelberry||Josh||6'4"||175||Wing||Fayetteville||NC||Oak Hill Academy||Game Elite (Adidas)||7/31/17||46|
|Deng||Majok||6'5"||175||Wing||Tucson||AZ||Salpointe Catholic||Arizona Powerhouse (Independent)||8/13/17||88|
|Brooks||Keion||6'8"||180||Combo Forward||Fort Wayne||IN||North Side||Spiece Indy Heat (Nike)||9/11/17||35|
|Wiseman||James||6'11||210||Post||Memphis||TN||Memphis East||Team Penny (Nike)||9/14/17||2|
|Jeffries||D.J.||6'6"||200||Combo Forward||Olive Branch||MS||Olive Branch||Team Penny (Nike)||9/15/17||37|
|Hagans||Ashton||6'4"||190||Point Guard||Covington||GA||Newton||Game Elite (Adidas)||9/20/17||6|
|Watson||Marcus||6'6"||195||Wing||Buford||GA||Buford||Georgia Stars (Nike)||9/21/17||50|
|Harvey||Zach||6'4"||180||Wing||Topeka||KS||Hayden||KC Run GMC (UAA)||38|
Signing day for 2019 recruits is still 13 months off, but it’s easy to get a sense of who Missouri is prioritizing in this class. We don’t have time to swing through every prospect listed in the table. Instead, we’ll zero in on prospects we think are worth your attention moving forward.
And to be up front: Jeremiah Robinson-Earl and Zach Harvey seem like heavy lifts. By now, you likely know Robinson-Earl’s backstory. The Bishop Miege combo forward is the son of former Jayhawk Lester Earl. Meanwhile, Harvey is a national prospect out of Topeka. Now, Mizzou watched Robinson-Earl in person during September, but we still think chances are negligible he winds up in Columbia.
Without further ado, here are the 2019 recruits you should file away.
Mario McKinney Jr.
In late August, we gave a quick overview of the Vashon guard and his game. And that hasn’t changed dramatically, either.
McKinney has the athleticism and attacking mentality in the open floor that fits the natural contours of a wing. However, his size — 6’2, 180 pounds — may lead some staffs to evaluate his potential to fit as a point or combo guard. He’s also a committed defender, which is always a necessity in Martin’s program.
What’s ironic about McKinney is that for all the attention he’s garnered, his junior season will be his first as a starter for Wolverines coach Tony Irons. Until now, he’s been a key reserve, bringing defensive energy, rebounding a knack for clutch plays in his bench minutes. For example, in 2016, he scored 13 points and snagged six rebounds off the bench as a freshman in the Wolverines first recognized state title win since 2002.
McKinney has already made multiple visits to Columbia and trekked to Kansas State in early September. His next and likely last unofficial visit of the fall is this coming weekend to Iowa. That visit to Iowa City will be another joint road trip shared by McKinney, E.J. Liddell and each recruit’s parents.
Naturally, the question arises whether McKinney and Liddell could comprise a package deal. Those in McKinney’s inner circle say the odds are high the pair will look to team up in college, but it’s more common for those pacts to fall apart. The bond between McKinney and Liddell, though, goes back to elementary school. And they’ve shared the same grassroots program since middle school.
So far, their list of suitors—MU, KSU, Iowa, Purdue, Michigan, Marquette, and SLU—largely overlap. The exception: Illinois. Liddell holds an offer, but McKinney is awaiting one. And recently, the Illini’s interest has tailed off, which makes sense given they’ve emerged as the favorite for five-star combo guard Ayo Donsumu.
Missouri would likely love an early commitment, but McKinney may not decide until before his senior season. Right now, he may operate more at point guard for Vashon, along with opportunities next summer with Bradley Beal Elite on Nike’s EYBL circuit. How he fares could boost his stock and bring the attention of higher-profile programs.
At the same time we touched on McKinney, we talked about Liddell. But Belleville (Ill.) West coach Joe Muniz also gave an excellent breakdown of the combo forward’s game.
This summer, he would just catch, rip and go by somebody off the dribble from 20, 22 feet…I think the next stage of his game is he’s got to be a more consistent 3-point shooter and I think he’s got to be able to blow by a defender, pull up and shoot a jump shot from 16, 17 feet.
If Liddell becomes consistent in those areas, he’s an ideal fit for Mizzou’s NBA-style offense. Landing the combo forward may also be essential in the event Jontay Porter puts together a monster sophomore campaign and tests the NBA waters.
Right now, Missouri is in a good position with the Belleville (Ill.) West product. He’s visited Illinois, Missouri, Kansas State and, as mentioned above, will be taking another visit to Iowa. Over the past month, Martin, Iowa coach Fran McCaffrey and Kansas State coach Bruce Weber have made appearances at open gyms. Liddell has told the Belleville News-Democrat in late August he’ll likely wait until his senior season to decide.
Terrence Hargrove Jr.
In our opinion, Terrence Hargrove has been undervalued for a while now, but the East St. Louis wing has all the attributes of a high-level recruit.
First, he’s the ideal size—6-foot-6, 180 pounds—and length Martin typically wants in his wings. Second, he’s at ease in the open floor, able to push the ball quickly but under control. Third, he has no problem getting off the floor. And finally, his jumper is mechanically sound and consistent.
But as you watch his highlights, a thought might cross your mind. It almost looks as if he’s playing against overwhelmed middle schoolers. And to a degree, you’re right. Hargrove has played with the Illinois Hoopville Warriors a youth basketball and mentoring program run by his skills coach.
Hargrove’s grassroots games are off the grid, and it may be natural for coaches to wonder about the caliber of talent he’s facing. That will change next summer, though. Hargrove announced last month he’s moving on to Bradley Beal Elite, which should offer a better barometer of Hargrove’s potential.
Right now, he only holds offers from SLU, Illinois State and Mizzou. And word is he covets an offer from Kansas, where he took an unofficial visit this summer. If Hargrove improves on the 13.4 points and 10.9 rebounds he posted last season for ESL, and enjoys a breakout summer, he may be a fast riser up recruiting rankings.
Mizzou is also trying to construct a pipeline to the west and hook into Sunrise Christian Academy. Javon Pickett is getting ready for a prep season at the school, while fellow 2018 commit K.J. Santos also had a brief stopover.
Now, Mizzou is courting Hall, but he told Power Mizzou that Pickett hasn’t been putting on an extended lobbying effort. Two weeks ago, though, Hall tagged along during Pickett’s official visit to Columbia.
Sunrise hoops @iammalikhall @JavonPickett Unoffical to Mizzou. pic.twitter.com/PjtEVYeXRj— Sunrise Basketball (@sunrisehoops) September 24, 2017
And he reconnected with former MoKan Elite teammate Jontay Porter to watch Auburn shellack Mizzou on the gridiron.
We have a Jontay Porter sighting at today's game. pic.twitter.com/gaaFb8eCud— Tyler Murry (@TylerMurry_) September 23, 2017
Hall’s size might lead you to think he’s destined for a spot as a combo forward. Two years ago, though, at the Pangos Midwest Camp, the Aurora, Ill., native looked comfortable handling the ball and pushing in transition. This past summer, you could see Hall’s physical maturation and a more mechanically sound jumper. At the same time, his footwork in tight spaces, especially along the baseline, and the ability to finish over the top of defenders is polished. It’s just as conceivable that Hall grows into a solid wing player.
In his first summer with MoKan, Hall posted a respectable 9.5 points and 5.8 rebounds a game. What needs to improve? His efficiency. He shot just 38.6 percent from the floor, including 32 percent behind the 3-point line. At Peach Jam, he at least showed a knack for getting to the rim—going 21 for 32 inside the paint—and trying to make up for an off weekend from Porter.
Ties to Pickett and Jontay Porter certainly help, but the competition from Illinois and Kansas figures to be stiff. Illinois assistant coach Jamall Walker helped place Hall at Sunrise Christian. Meanwhile, Hall has taken multiple unofficial visits to Lawrence, including last weekend for the all-hands-on-deck event known Late Night in The Phog. (Hey, I’d go to see Lil Yachty, too.) He also plans on visiting Oklahoma this weekend.
The Rock Bridge wing is just three miles away from Martin’s office, and he isn’t a stranger to pick-up games with the Porters in Missouri’s practice facility. Mosley possesses the ideal size for a wing and he’s got a knack for scoring at all three levels of the floor. He can even play a little bit with his back to the basket.
The question is whether he’s athletic enough to stick at the high-major level. Mizzou tracked him with MoKan’s 16U squad during the July period, and Mosley is reportedly a willing defender. Mizzou was also quick to extend an offer in late June.
The succession plan for Terrence Phillips has been murky for a while. Shortly after his hiring, Martin extended an offer to Alex Lomax, a 2018 prospect out of Memphis he’d been recruiting to Cal. Through August, they stayed in the mix, even if there wasn’t a pressing need at the position.
The more rational decision, in theory, is to hold off until 2019, when Phillip is set to graduate. Mizzou was quick to extend an offer to Rocket Watts, but D.J. Carton popped up on the radar after an outstanding July on the NY2LA circuit. At the time, Wisconsin and Marquette were the only high-major programs showing interest.
One former college coach, though, walked away impressed.
I think he’ll be a Top 50 player when it’s all said and done. His jump shot is average right now, but he is an elite passer, and he can get to the rim. He is unbelievable in transition. He has huge hands, and his long arms make him a menace on the defensive end. He is really a good decision maker and a savvy player.
Teams need to get in and see him before he explodes. He won’t just have Big 10 offers when it’s all said and done.
Missouri was one of the suitors who rushed to get a foot in the door with the Bettendorf, Iowa, native, and landed two unofficial visits. His comments about those visits have been about what you’d expect, too. He’s also visited Iowa, Wisconsin and Michigan.
Mizzou has yet to break into Michigan—otherwise known as The Mitten—but it’s not for a lack of effort. For a while, assistant coach and Detroit native Cornell Mann had MU solidly positioned with combo guard Duane Washington Jr., who was well-built and had deep-range behind the 3-point line.
The sudden turn of events in Torrence Watson’s recruitment, though, pushed Washington in another direction. He committed last month to Ohio State. Even then, Mizzou didn’t get the Grand Rapids product on campus.
Still, Mann has plumbed his connections to The Family, which includes point guard Rocket Watts. The Old Redford Academy product’s nickname actually comes from the football field. On the court, he’s grown from a spot-up shooter into a coveted point guard prospect. In some ways, he’s in the same boat as McKinney: a combo guard trying to evolve into a point guard.
Prying him out of Michigan, though, could prove difficult. Watts already holds offers from Michigan State and Michigan. He’s made multiple visits to both schools, and Izzo reportedly dropped by in early September. Now, Watts has taken unofficial visits to Mississippi State and plans to visit Marquette this weekend.
Craig Covington, his high school coach, told a Mississippi State recruiting writer that Watts would like to eventually make it down to Columbia.
He is still wide open. ... He likes Michigan State, Michigan, Missouri, Marquette, just to name a few. But he is still wide open right now. He has visited Michigan, Michigan State, Xavier, Alabama. He will be taking unofficial visits to Marquette and Missouri within the next couple of weeks.
If that visit comes to fruition, we may take more notice of Watts and his wares.
Missouri is starting to be more active in the class of 2020 as well. They’ve reached out to 5-star Jalen Suggs, 4-star Josh Christopher and Cam Fletcher at Vashon. I’m sure they’ve made contact with Caleb Love at CBC as well. We’ll have plenty of time to dive deeper into the 2020 class, but for now, we’re still situating how things are going to play out in 2018 and 2019, which will obviously impact 2020.
So that’s the latest. We have a clear pattern of importance coming from the staff in 2019, and we’ll just have to wait and see how things progress on the front with Courtney Ramey and Carte’Are Gordon.