Kevin Puryear is from Blue Springs, MO. He’s a Tiger through and through. And he’s a good player.
Criticizing Puryear is something that is never easy to do because being a good player from Missouri on Missouri can make guys invincible to Missouri fans. And yet, Puryear is obviously not invincible. He’s been a flawed player on an incredibly flawed team. He's been perhaps one of the least flawed players, so that has always made him more attractive, but he still has flaws and struggles.
#24 Kevin Puryear
6'7" 243 lbs
If there is one thing about Puryear you can take the bank, it’s that nobody wants to restore Mizzou to glory more than him. He plays with a fire and passion for the black and gold that few can come close to. You could see him struggle with the losses as they piled up.
Puryear was miscast as a go-to scorer, but he’s a very solid player with a good skill set who shouldered a heavier load in both seasons as a Tiger than he should have. His points, rebounds and assists all ticked up, but his Offensive Rating, True Shooting %, and Free Throw Rate all ticked down. As Missouri leaned on him more, he wasn’t able to produce as much.
As critical as that sounds of Puryear, he’s also a big reason why the Missouri coaching job was remotely attractive after the last three seasons. If you can reduce Puryear’s workload, his efficiency can increase. And adding Michael Porter Jr. to the roster along with Jordan Barnett will go a long way toward making Puryear the player he needs to be — a highly productive, low-usage guy.
Puryear certainly had some big moments this season including sinking this game winning shot against Auburn in the SEC Championship game to cap off a 30 point effort. He had 26 points against Ole Miss, which put a good scare into the Rebels when they visited Mizzou. If somehow Puryear can tap into more consistency while playing a lesser role in the scoring column, I think he can be a pretty dangerous player for Cuonzo Martin next season.
From his very first game on campus, KP became the go to guy in terms of scoring for Kim Anderson’s Tigers, whether fair or not, that’s where he ended up. And he had a marvelous freshman year, but unfortunately, whether it be due to taking on a larger role than he should have, or coaching, he didn’t seem to take the next step from his freshman year to his sophomore year.
We’ve all read countless times that this is the biggest step in a player’s growth, so the fact that KP didn’t appear much better than the good player he is, could indicate he’s reached his ceiling. As both Bill and Sam have pointed out, KP’s numbers as the third guy instead of the first would bode well for a Mizzou team looking to win soon with the addition of MPJr. For me, as with Barnett, in the next year I’d like to see KP keep raising those rebounding numbers (which went up nicely in year 2) and to get to the line a bit more.
I feel like we’ve written hundreds of variations of this statement through the years (and already in this very piece), but it can be amazing what happens when a decent player is bumped down the list in terms of defensive priority. Kevin Puryear is not much of a No. 1 scorer, as evidenced by the way his efficiency numbers regressed this year. But he can be one hell of a No. 3. I definitely believe you can win a lot of games with Puryear on the floor, and as a role player-plus, he could have an exciting junior season.