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The finished basketball roster is upon us so who is in your top eight?

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Our annual feature is back, this time it’s with the 2018-19 version of the Tigers.

NCAA Basketball: Mississippi at Missouri Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The last few years Missouri has finished and updated their online roster some time in June leading to a good offseason piece where we get to see the jersey numbers and try to figure out lineup combinations.

This off season has been different as the online roster is still not updated, meaning Michael Porter Jr. and Jordan Barnett and Kassius Robertson don’t only hold a place in our hearts but still hold a place on the online roster. Still, we don’t need the online roster updated since we know who is on the team. We’ve even figured out everyones numbers. Here’s how it looks:

  • #0 Fr. Torrence Watson
  • #1 Fr. Xavier Pinson
  • #2 R-So. K.J. Santos
  • #3 R-Jr. Ronnie Suggs
  • #4 Fr. Javon Pickett
  • #5 R-So. Mitchell Smith
  • #11 So. Jontay Porter
  • #12 Jr. Dru Smith
  • #13 So. Mark Smith
  • #14 Jr. Reed Nikko
  • #15 Sr. Jordan Geist
  • #23 So. Jeremiah Tilmon
  • #24 Sr. Kevin Puryear
  • #32 Jr. Adam Wolf
  • #33 Sr. Cullen VanLeer
  • #42 Fr. Parker Braun

13 scholarship players, three walk-ons and two guys who’ll be sitting out due to transfer. That leaves fourteen players vying for minutes and on most basketball teams only about eight or nine are going to play consistent minutes. Thus entering the debate:

First, a disclaimer... this in no way is saying that Cuonzo is going to play eight guys. He may only play six or he could play 12. I do expect there will be 9-10 who will see regular minutes but that is not what this question poses. This poses who are the TOP eight. Who starts and who are going to routinely be the first three off the bench?

Figuring out who is going to play you basically start the top and work your way down. Last year you could pencil in Michael Porter Jr. and go from there. This year you pencil in Jontay Porter, assume Jeremiah Tilmon is going to start as well and you go from there.

So here’s how I see the depth chart right now:

Depth Chart-ish

Point Guard Combo Guard Wing Combo Forward Post
Point Guard Combo Guard Wing Combo Forward Post
Jordan Geist Torrence Watson K.J. Santos Jontay Porter Jeremiah Tilmon
Xavier Pinson Cullen VanLeer Mitchell Smith Kevin Puryear Reed Nikko
Javon PIckett Ronnie Suggs Adam Wolf Parker Braun

This exercise isn’t easy and I’m prepared to be wrong. I think you peg Jordan Geist in at the one, and have a front court of Jontay Porter and Jeremiah Tilmon and then it gets fuzzy.

The challenge for me is if you start with the experience in Kevin Puryear and be a little overmatched defensively, or do you go with K.J. Santos who is a little more athletic on the wing and lose some leadership? I opted for a little more of a traditional lineup but I envision there will be plenty of combinations which see Puryear, Tilmon, and Porter on the court at the same time.

My Top Eight in who I think will lead in minutes are as follows (and in order):

Jordan Geist, Jontay Porter, Kevin Puryear, Torrence Watson, Jeremiah Tilmon, K.J. Santos, Xavier Pinson, Mitchell Smith.

I think you’re going to see minutes from Pickett and Nikko as well. The question mark for me is still Cullen VanLeer. If he’s healthy he’s going to play at least some. But whether he’s healthy enough to play is certainly unanswerable right now. For Cullen’s sake I hope he can play but the knee injury he suffered was a serious one.

Here’s how #Twitter voted...

By 10pm last night I had 29 responses and this is how you voted (I didn’t count the joke tweets, though I did enjoy them):

  • Kevin Puryear - 29
  • Jontay Porter - 29
  • Jeremiah Tilmon - 29
  • Torrence Watson - 28
  • K.J. Santos - 27
  • Jordan Geist - 27
  • Mitchell Smith - 18
  • Xavier Pinson - 17
  • Javon Pickett - 16
  • Reed Nikko - 9
  • Cullen VanLeer - 4

What surprised me? Not much, I think like myself most of the Mizzou fanbase isn’t sure what to expect from Cullen VanLeer which drew down his vote totals. But it’s painfully obvious the top six are mostly consistent across the board with both K.J. Santos and Jordan Geist only missing on two ballots each.

So some matchups to watch:

Watson-Pickett-VanLeer: Most people seem to think Torrence Watson is going to be the starter but how much will he be pushed by the experienced (though, as mentioned, still injured) Cullen VanLeer and the man Cuonzo Martin has called out for his hard work already in Javon Pickett? Watson is the most talented player of the three but he’s also making the jump from small class Missouri high school basketball where his usage may have been around 50% to the SEC. Is he ready for that step?

Puryear-Santos-Smith: Three guys who are probably more natural fits for the small-ball four style of play have to take a big backseat to Jontay Porter at that spot and will be duking it out for minutes on the wing. Smith might be the most intriguing with his combination of agility and size, but both he and Santos are unknowns due to the amount of time they’ve spent not playing basketball in the last few years. Puryear is reliable here, he’s a known. Which gives him the leg up.

Safe in their role:

NCAA Basketball: Tennessee at Missouri Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Jontay: Duh. Porter is the biggest key to this season.

Jeremiah: Double Duh. If Tilmon can play without fouling he could be one of the best bigs in the SEC.

Jordan Geist: Despite some fans protests we’ve made the case time in again here in this space that Jordan Geist is actually a good player and deserves our respect. We’re respecting him here by saying he’s gonna start and be a reliable point guard for the Tigers this season.

Miscellaneous:

This could be the year we see some walk on contributions. Parker Braun needs to put on some weight but brings a high level of skill and shooting. While Ronnie Suggs was a contributor two years ago at Bradley and spent last year getting stronger and working on his game.

Xavier PInson is another question mark for me. Mizzou needs his ball handling and distribution skills but he’s still in Chicago and hasn’t been on campus for a while. Losing valuable offseason time for a young guard.

Reed Nikko is going to play. He’s never going to wow you with his agility or shooting but he’s big and rebounds exceptionally well. That’s useful.

A small sampling from Twitter:

What say you commenters? Who’s in your top eight?