Well, Kevin Knox’s commitment announcement on Saturday night indeed featured a curve ball. He didn’t announce for Duke or North Carolina as most were predicting. He didn’t go with his parents’ alma mater, Florida State. He didn’t go with Mizzou either. Instead, he chose the closer of all closers.
Mizzou indeed came up short as expected, even with a plot twist at the end. (Though really, Kentucky landing a blue-chipper is never a plot twist.) Three quick thoughts, and then we move on.
1. Knox was a flashy luxury item. In terms of needs, Mizzou needed to spend its final two scholarships on a three-point shooter and a big man. The Tigers got their shooter in Canisius’ Kassius Robertson, and the plan, at least, is that the 13th scholarship goes to either of two blue-chippers, Jeremiah Tilmon or Jontay Porter. (Yes, another scholarship could very much still open up, and both could still come here if they so choose.)
Knox was, from the start, a luxury. Never mind needs, this was a want — the thought of two blue-chippers on the wing doing nasty things attacking the basket was a tantalizing one. But he’s not regarded as a wonderful outside shooter yet, and at 205 pounds, he’s not a banger on the inside.
This would have been the bonus of all bonuses, Mizzou landing Michael Porter Jr. and getting double the fun. And once the thought enters your head, it’s disappointing when it doesn’t work out. But shooting and girth were the biggest needs here, and one need remains.
2. Tilmon? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. Mizzou is feeling good! Mizzou will hear something this weekend! Mizzou will hear something by mid-May! UNC might enter the picture! DePaul might enter the picture! Illinois is still trying! Since Tilmon is not talking directly to reporters, everything we hear about him is second-hand and conflicting.
Tilmon is custom-made to be the complement this roster needs. Porter will handle the scoring, and Tilmon’s ability to bang on the inside would be perfect. And Mizzou’s in good shape. Or not. I have no idea.
3. Jontay is one hell of a backup plan. Tilmon is indeed the perfect type of player for this roster (or most rosters), which makes his recruiting of massive importance. But knowing that the likely backup if Tilmon doesn’t come — or even if he does — is Jontay Porter, a.k.a. Sam Perkins Jr., it’s hard for me to get too worked up. (It’s hard for me to get too worked up about recruiting in general, but you know what I’m saying.
With Michael Porter Sr. on staff, it’s long been assumed that Jontay will commit to Mizzou at some point. The question, of course, is whether he remains a 2018 recruit or reclassifies to 2017.
The more I think about it, the more I’m guessing Jontay is in a Mizzou uniform next year. There were two strains of logic when it came to reclassification, and in my mind both of them are trending Mizzou at the moment.
His commitment is contingent on whether Tilmon comes. Well, Tilmon’s maybe more like 70-75% a Mizzou lean instead of 90-95%. That means Jontay’s more likely than before, right?
If he doesn’t reclassify, he can go through the star-making process himself, away from his brother. This has long been a sensible line of logic to me. As he has proven in recent AAU events, when Michael isn’t on his team, Jontay becomes a go-to scorer along with an A-grade rebounder and defender. He gets to show his outside range a bit more (hence the Sam Perkins reference). He becomes a complete player instead of a complement.
The more I think about this, the more I think of this as less legit. If he’s looking to become a star in that way — which is already happening — all he has to do is stay at Mizzou for two years. He’d get to play with Michael as a freshman in 2017-18, then he’d get the star turn as a sophomore in 2018-19. Then he’d turn pro himself. Granted, this takes him out of the running for the McDonald’s All American game, but it ends up having the same effect otherwise.
So now that my brain has decided he’ll reclassify, he’ll announce on Monday that he isn’t. That’s fine, too. Regardless, here’s a reminder of where Mizzou’s scholarship situation stands as of today after a week in which Mizzou got its shooter and missed out on its luxury item.