With each move this offseason, the hype amongst Mizzou fans has increased, but around the country the hype is growing as well.
From USA Today’s updated preseason top 25, where the Tigers check in at No. 24:
The more talent new coach Cuonzo Martin hauled in, the more difficult the Tigers became to ignore as a Top 25-caliber team this offseason. Like Kentucky and many freshmen-boosted rosters, the Missouri will drastically lack experience. And don't forget that Martin's similarly loaded Cal team in 2015-16 woefully underachieved. All that said, Mizzou belongs on this list based on a sensational recruiting class that's led by the nation's top player in the class of 2017, Michael Porter Jr., a Kevin Durant-esque player who surely helped to lure other top guns Jeremiah Tilmon and C.J. Roberts to play with Martin. Another nice asset here is Canisius grad transfer Kassius Robertson (16.1 ppg), an excellent long-range shooter. For a program that didn't win 10 games and finished dead last in the SEC last season, much has changed for the better.
“Woefully underachieved” seems a bit harsh on Cuonzo’s Cal team — they won 23 games and drew a 4-seed in the NCAA tournament, after all.
And in case you missed it from last week, ESPN’s Myron Medcalf ranked Missouri No. 25 in his preseason rankings.
The hype is real and growing.
Without Michael Porter Jr., Missouri doesn’t make these lists. You can try as much as you want to tamper expectations around next year’s team, but my response to that is ... do you know how good Porter is at basketball?
Porter is as good as it gets. Since 2003, five players have had a perfect 100 rating at 247sports: LeBron James, Dwight Howard, Greg Oden, Andrew Wiggins, and Michael Porter Jr. That list includes arguably the best player in NBA history, a center who could have been one of the best to play the game had he not gotten hurt, a center who is a three-time NBA defensive player of the year and eight-time All-Star, and Andrew Wiggins, who averaged 23 points per last season in his second season this year.
That’s extreme company.
The hype will continue to grow, and I think these expectations are reasonable. Yes, the Tigers will be young, and yes, they will be competing in a much tougher SEC than the one that existed in recent years. But Michael Porter Jr. is really, really, really good at basketball. Combine him with some solid players off last year’s roster, plus some ultra-talented fellow newcomers, and you have no reason to think Mizzou can’t be a top 25 team or better.