When planning for the 2018 class, one of the last names I expected to be talking about was Javon Pickett. Pickett was a 2017 recruit, and after being let out of his National Letter of Intent from Illinois, most pegged him as a mid-major or mid-major+ level recruit.
Pickett had some interest from SLU, Drake, Wisconsin-Milwaukee, but through an obvious desire to play up at the highest level, he decided to better his prospects by doing a prep year and reclassify to 2018. Jumping into the 2018 class obviously increased Missouri’s interest in Pickett, and an added year of working on his game and adding strength will make him more likely to have an impact at the SEC level.
So let’s take a look at the impact of his commitment and what it means for the rest of the class. As usual, it helps to see the scholarship count.
Yes, we are making the assumption that at some point in the near future we’ll hear that Jontay Porter is reclassifying as a 2017 recruit.
If/when Jontay officially reclassifies, that will mean all 13 scholarships are occupied for the coming season, leaving three officially open for next season (assuming Michael Porter Jr. jumps to the NBA). As of now, Pickett has taken up one of those spots.
There is still the possibility of some roster churn next offseason, but as of now there are just a couple scholarships open.
Glancing ahead to 2020, there are now six scholarships open.
Is this a good move?
Pickett was technically on the radar for his relationship with Tilmon and being a solid local wing player. The question on whether or not it’s a good move is a tough one to answer.
Pickett is the type of guy who could gradually make more and more of an impact. He's got a good knack for putting the ball in the basket and kind of reminds me of a wing version of Kevin Puryear. He’s not particularly explosive, but he’s got a knack for offense, and reliable scoring and the ability to make open shots are never easy to turn away. Plus, he’s also been proven to be an avid rebounder for a guard, and he has a body that can withstand some added weight. He could prove to be a very good defender.
If Pickett can develop the other areas of his game and become a plus defender, you have a guy who can be a solid contributor or even a starter later in his college career.
As things currently stand, Pickett won’t have a ton of competition on the wing in 2018-19, as Cullen VanLeer is the only current roster member likely to still be around. But Jordan Geist, Terrence Phillips and C.J. Roberts will all be vying for minutes off the ball. So Pickett won’t be required to play a ton of minutes early if he’s not ready, perhaps finding a niche as an energy guy.
That 2018-19 roster will be reliant on the interior players like Kevin Puryear, Jontay Porter and Jeremiah Tilmon, plus Reed Nikko and Mitchell Smith. With the plethora of ball handlers, I’m sure Cuonzo Martin will have no trouble finding lineups to use.
What else is on tap for the 2018 class?
We’ve talked previously about Mizzou’s need to add at least a couple wings to the 2018 recruiting class, and Pickett fills one slot. It wouldn’t surprise me at all to see Martin and staff add three wings.
Torrence Watson is still the likely top target for the other wing position, although there are still other options available should they miss on Watson. Locally, there’s Christian Bishop from Lee’s Summit West, who remains a priority. Beyond the Missouri borders, there are players like Nassir Little, Montez Mathis and Gabe Brown (who is planning an unofficial visit to Mizzou this week), as well as possibly Talen Horton-Tucker.
Combo forwards like Brandon Johns or Darius Days could also project on the wing.
The Watson situation is the top one to watch. The Tigers will still look at a point guard, even though it appears Jordan Lathon is moving on without a Mizzou offer. Lathon released his top five earlier in the week and it included Illinois, Northwestern, Butler, Iowa State and Wake Forest.
Still, the Tigers have options there and on the interior. But at least for now they’ve got a small slice of the pie taken care of.