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Mizzou Freshman forward Tray Jackson to transfer

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Welp.

NCAA Basketball: Missouri at Mississippi Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

Tray Jackson is transferring from Missouri.

The former top 100 recruit out of Michigan, by way of Sunrise Christian Academy, is the highest rated recruit to sign with Missouri in the last two recruiting cycles. Gabe DeArmond of PowerMizzou was the first to get the news:

Gabe has been very clear on the language with Jackson ‘intending’ to transfer. Jackson is not currently in the transfer portal, but at this stage it sounds like a mere formality.

Jackson is now officially in the transfer portal:

The loss of Jackson is a serious impact to both the front court and the roster’s athleticism. Jackson had good size and seemed to fit the teams’ needs at the combo forward position. But spring signee Kobe Brown came in and started 26 of 30 games at the position (He missed one game due to an illness). With Brown entrenched at the four spot, perhaps Jackson saw very little pathway to the kind of minutes he wanted to see.

With Jackson and Mario McKinney not returning, Mizzou has two scholarships to fill in a time when coaches aren’t allowed to recruit off campus. Here is the current scholarship count outlook looking forward three years:

mizzou scholarship count 03-21-20

Next year’s scholarship situation isn’t in bad shape, provide there are no more unexpected departures. But there are only six projected roster spots for the 2022 season and just three now with Parker Braun, Kobe Brown, and Jordan Wilmore projecting out past that season.

If continuity is your thing, next year should provide that at least. Mizzou will return over 87% of their minutes played this past season, the obvious concern is that’s 87% of minutes played on a team which went 15-16. They’re probably better getting healthy minutes from Jeremiah Tilmon and Mark Smith, but also likely the improvement there is marginal.

The hope was going into next year, Jackson would find his footing in the offseason and challenge for minutes in the front court as well as some on the wing and give Missouri a boost they need in scoring. Without him, Missouri’s needs don’t necessarily change that much, but perhaps with an additional open scholarship they can take a bigger risk-reward play with one of them, and play it safer with the other.

roster by position

Here is the roster breakdown by position. The ball handlers, again, is kind of light. With McKinney gone it opens a hole in the backcourt which Mizzou still needs to fill. Ideally, you find a player who can be a more reliable scorer than the three occupying the wing spot now. Consistent production on offense was an issue all season long, and adding another player on the outside who can score alongside Xavier Pinson and Dru Smith will go a long way. But who that player might be is a big question mark.

We’ll have more in the coming days on what transpired this season, but you would be right to question whether that answer is currently on the roster.

Here’s an early look at the potential depth chart for next year:

depth chart

I’d imagine with his late season surge, Xavier Pinson has likely put himself in position to be a starter next season. Jackson leaving clears a bit of a logjam in the front court, but it’s not a front court you would imagine scaring a lot of the SEC. But if Jeremiah Tilmon returns and is healthy it helps a lot.

Still, losing Jackson isn’t a good sign. Missouri needs productive players and Jackson showed every sign of being one. If he turns into one now, it won’t be at Missouri. So good luck to him.

But this offseason has just gotten even more important for Cuonzo Martin as he tries to get this Tigers basketball program back on track.