Michael Porter Jr., Jeremiah Tilmon, and other members of the Missouri basketball team appeared before the media on Thursday.
Porter talked up his teammates.
“I don’t think people understand how good (Tilmon) is, how good Blake is or C.J. Roberts,” Porter said. “The other guys coming back are working real hard, and we’re trying to change the culture around here to a winning culture. … As a collective group, if we come together, we can get this thing rolling.”
Tilmon talked about Mizzou being a great fit.
Tilmon said he was disappointed when Illinois parted with Groce, and Tilmon decided to go back to the drawing board. Porter started in with the Missouri sales pitch. Tilmon met Porter a few years ago when they played AAU ball together.
“I didn’t know what I wanted to do, and then after I talked to Mike and C.J. and Blake all the time, I just knew this was the best fit for me,” Tilmon said.
Porter mentioned that we will actually find out younger brother Jontay’s reclassification decision next week.
Michael Porter Jr. said today he thinks brother Jontay will announce next week whether he plans to reclassify.— Blake Toppmeyer (@btoppmeyer) July 27, 2017
MPJr. claims he doesn't know Jontay's decision, but he said Jontay and his parents know.— Blake Toppmeyer (@btoppmeyer) July 27, 2017
Tilmon expressed reticence for his June minor-in-possession arrest.
Tilmon on arrest: "I took it as a learning lesson. It's in the past. We're moving forward." Says he's talked to Martin about the incident— Dave Matter (@Dave_Matter) July 27, 2017
Meanwhile, senior Jordan Barnett pointed out something that is both startling and obvious at the same time: Mizzou is going to be a really, really big team this year.
Mizzou’s additions could have the biggest impact at the rim. The Tigers had 12.6 percent of their shots blocked last season, which ranked No. 343 out of 351 Division I teams. On the flip side, the Tigers only blocked 6.2 percent of their opponents’ shots, which ranked No. 310.
“Well, last year our tallest player who was actually playing was Russ and he’s 6-8 and barely taller than me,” Barnett said. “If you add Jeremiah, who’s 6-11, Reed, who has been doing extremely well and I’m sure we’ll see him more on the court, and then Mike, who’s probably pushing 6-11 — and he’s a guard for the most part — our height is going to be something to reckoned with.”
Per Ken Pomeroy, Missouri ranked 209th in average height last year, and I’m actually surprised it was that high. Reed Nikko and Mitchell Smith were the only players taller than 6’8, and they combined for fewer than 12 minutes per game; plus, both were hurt — Smith was lost for the season to a knee injury in December, and Nikko was hobbled by offseason surgery and an early-season high ankle sprain.
Beyond that, you had 6’8, 236-pound Russell Woods, 6’7, 243-pound Kevin Puryear, and 6’7, 215-pound Jordan Barnett.
The effects were obvious. Mizzou ranked 210th in offensive rebounding rate, 225th in defensive rebounding, 310th in defensive block rate, and 343rd (out of 351 Division 1 teams) in offensive block rate. This put a ton of pressure on the Tigers’ outside shooting ... which was miserable.
This season, you've got 6'10, 235-pound Tilmon and 6'10, 215-pound Porter, and both Smith (6'10, 210) and Nikko (6'10, 250) should be healthy. And that's saying nothing of Jontay Porter, who's listed at 6'10 and somewhere between 225 and 240.
Oh yeah, and the outside shooting should be better, too.
We've said it a million times now, and it's blatantly obvious, but ... wow, is this team going to be different this winter. In just about every possible way.