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Missouri’s 2018-19 roster has become a lot more clear this weekend

The depth in 2019-20 is going to be a lot of fun, but unless Jontay Porter surprises many and returns to Columbia, 2018-19 will be a transition year. So be it.

NCAA Basketball: Evansville at Louisville Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

With a spate of good and bad news the last few days , the Missouri basketball roster situation seems to be nearly resolved for the upcoming season. ICYMI:

The first two developments weren’t surprising, but the third caught us off-guard a bit. Hinson’s comments this week made it seem as if the Tigers could be in good shape for his services. But when it came time to make a decision, he went with the team that everyone thought was leading before this week. Life goes on.

One way or another, we are now seeing the 2018-19 Mizzou basketball roster take its final shape. Hinson’s non-commitment means the Tigers still have one more scholarship to offer, and it is unclear who’s even on the recruiting board at this point.

The pool of interesting graduate transfers has been mostly picked clean, so the odds are pretty good that any future addition to the roster won’t be from the “likely difference-maker” mold. Unless you’re the optimistic type who believes there’s still a chance Jontay Porter returns. Our info suggests it’s unlikely, but hey, our info suggested Hinson would commit to Mizzou, too. Maybe we’ll be happily wrong.

So the roster isn’t finalized, but we probably know its strengths and weaknesses.

The Dru Smith commitment is something we’ve been particularly looking forward to. His efficiency, shooting, pace, and, notably, his hair are all ultra-intriguing, and it’s easy to see why Cuonzo Martin targeted him.

From Dave Matter’s article, Dru’s High School coach had some nice things to say:

“I think a lot of peopled considered him the best defender in the state,” Adams added. “He had an incredible career for us and what’s cool about Dru Smith is his personality. Our number one rule was to be a great teammate. I’ve had great kids through the years I don’t know if we had anyone who understood that better than him. He was a crowd favorite, good in the locker room and a great human being.”

Mark Smith is a little more high ceiling of a guy whose lack of exposure in basketball means he’s a bit of a project. But he still has the potential to be a truly elite guard in the SEC.

Both guys can help them win a ton of games. But those games won’t come until the fall of 2019.

Mark and Dru join Torrence Watson, K.J. Santos, Javon Pickett, and Xavier Pinson in the 2018 recruiting class, one that looks to set the tone and provide building blocks for the next generation of Mizzou basketball.

So let’s look at the scholarship count:

mizzou basketball scholarship count 4-27-18

Here’s what a depth chart might possibly look like:

Depth Chart

Jordan Geist Torrence Watson K.J. Santos Kevin Puryear Jeremiah Tilmon
Xavier Pinson Javon Pickett Cullen VanLeer Mitchell Smith Reed Nikko
Dru Smith* Mark Smith*

Clearly having both Smiths sitting out, and the mystery time-table on Cullen VanLeer’s return, create some serious question marks for this team.

  • They’ll be a decent load down low, with five players capable of playing the four or five spot, including a blue-chip sophomore in Jeremiah Tilmon.
  • Losing Hinson hurts, but the versatility of the potential combo forwards is still exciting, with Puryear, Santos, and Smith (and perhaps Tilmon, too?) all capable of stepping out away from the rim.
  • However, with only four or five players who’ll be looked at for ball handling... ehhhh.
  • Unless Xavier Pinson is ready for an early star turn, it could make for a shaky ball-handling season, with a lot again being asked of Jordan Geist.
  • Depth around the perimeter is a problem without Hinson because you don’t know what you’re going to get from an injured Cullen VanLeer.

The Tigers clearly missed on landing an immediate ball handler in the class, but they must feel confident enough in what they’ve got coming in to be willing to take a few extra lumps in 2018-19. And with the temporary, Porter-driven turnaround job Cuonzo Martin pulled this past season, it’s almost as if this coming season will be the transition year that probably should have been initially expected in year one of a turnaround. Going from eight wins to 20, then resetting around 14-18, isn’t optimal (if only the perspective of never wanting to move backwards) but it will tell Martin exactly what he’s got in players like Pinson, Watson, Santos, and Pinson. And then Smith, Smith, and the fruits of a potentially fantastic 2019 recruiting class — hopefully some combination of Mario McKinney, Malik Hall, Harlond Beverly, D.J. Carton, and Rocket Watts — join the mix.

For now, we still await an official decision from Jontay Porter, and we wait to see what else the Tigers might do with their 13th scholarship if Porter doesn’t make what really would be a surprising decision to return to school. Then we’ll watch as this staff attempts to build a dynamite 2019 class. Matt Harris will have plenty on that next week.