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With the roster set, where is Mizzou Hoops looking to fill their 2021 recruiting class?

A big offer went out, but it might have shown a bit of Cuonzo Martin’s hand as he crafts his next recruiting class.

basketball recruiting 2019

Missouri effectively completed their 2020-21 roster with the addition of Drew Buggs and Ed Chang last week. While Buggs signing has become official, we’re still waiting on the paperwork for Chang, but there’s no reason to think he won’t sign and join the team.

We already addressed how they would fit in this upcoming season, but in filling one of their open roster spots with a graduate transfer, Missouri filled the incoming senior class with six players. Here it is in chart form:

mizzou basketball scholarship count 4-25-20

Missouri will be looking to fill six scholarships for the next class and that’s a lotta scholarships to fill.

There’s always time in the spring to add necessary bodies, so I think Missouri is likely looking to get 3 or 4 players signed in the fall. So who are they targeting?

It’s still early, but I think you can see some primary targets emerging

They’ve already lost out on Pierre Brooks Jr, who was in for an unofficial visit last year. Brooks committed to Michigan State, much to nobody’s surprise. But there are still a lot of decisions to be made.

Mizzou has been all over the 2021 class in Michigan, and Kobe Bufkin is a player who both Matt and I have seen live, seeing Bufkin you knew it was a matter of time before he received an offer. He’s a bouncy 6’4 combo guard out of Grand Rapids and rated a 4-star by 247sports. His 92 ranking on 247’s composite seems low, because he has all the tools. Missouri was working on getting Bufkin down for an official visit before the coronavirus threw a wrench in ALL the plans.

Instead they conducted a virtual visit over the weekend and made the offer official. Bufkin has offers from both Michigan State and Michigan, and it’s usually difficult to pry Michigan players away from the two in-state programs. In this case, Missouri has a good shot because both schools have other targets who are higher up on the chain than Bufkin. So with a lack of space Bufkin might be available for the Tigers. If the Wolverines and Spartans land other targets or opt to wait on other targets it would like push Bufkin to another destination.

Both Michigan schools have another Mizzou combo guard target in their sights with Jaden Akins, who seems primed for a rise up the rankings possibly putting him out of the reach of the Tigers. It seems more likely he lands in East Lansing, if I were placing bets.

But that seems ok if Missouri can find a way to land Bufkin, who has every bit the upside.

With three of those six openings being post players (Jeremiah Tilmon, Mitchell Smith, Axel Okongo) it would probably make sense for Cuonzo Martin to target a post player in the class. They’ve offered Chet Holmgren, but I’m pretty sure you can forget about that name as he’s a top five player with 30 other offers. An interesting name to watch might be former Wake Forest commit Trey James.

Missouri has reached out, and James looks to be hitting the reset button on his recruitment. It’s worth monitoring, but the trouble with post players is they typically develop later. Right now James is ranked 165th in 247sports composite, he’s a solid back to the basket big man in a throwback sense, but he can extend his range to the three point line.

One name to keep an eye on: Tamar Bates

Bates looks to be one of the higher targets for Missouri at this point. Like Bufkin, he’s a combo guard with good size at 6’4. He’s a 4-star in the composite ranking, and just inside the top 100. Bates was looking for a breakout spring but that hasn’t happened with everything on lockdown. One tricky part, Bates has a Kansas offer.

Kansas, our arch-nemesis, has been changing focus with the likely NCAA punishment forthcoming. They’ve switched from pursuing the higher end guys who might be in college for a year, to going after more athletes like Christian Braun, Gethro Muscadin, Dajuan Harris, and Ochai Agbaji. Bates fits more into this category than that of Devon Dotson or Bryce Thompson.

Missouri was in early on Bates, and they offer a more stable role. The competition will still be thick for Bates, with Kansas State, Northwestern, and Creighton all in the thick of it. He’s already officially visited Creighton, and recently had a virtual visit with Northwestern.

Bates and Bufkin alone would start off a very good recruiting class, together they could set the Tigers up better long term than they’ve been in a while.

Other names to consider/keep an eye on:

Anyone I mention below may have varying odds, but I still see it as possible Missouri stays involved at least.

  • Hunter Sallis, 5-star CG: likely playing himself out of the reach of the Tigers. Sallis has offers from his home state Nebraska, and virtually every other program at this stage.
  • Malaki Branham, 4-star CG: an Ohio native with a lofty ranking but who’s recruiting hasn’t exploded yet.
  • Tyrese Hunter, 4-star PG: Hunter has been a priority target at Marquette, but the Wisconsin native still has other options and Missouri has been in touch.
  • Jordan Nesbitt, 4-star WING: Nesbitt has been a hot topic with Mizzou fans since the Tigers haven’t offered. I don’t think they get involved but you never know so I’m including him in someone to keep an eye on.
  • Julian Roper, 4-star CG: Committing Monday, it looks like Northwestern which could help Mizzou’s pursuit of Bates.
  • Anton Brookshire, 3-star CG: The Springfield, MO native has had a quiet recruitment, but he’s an excellent shooter who is currently a bit undersized but is in-state, and provides an elite skill: shooting
  • Julian Lewis, 3-star WING: Another Michigan player who looks like more of a mid-major plus level player, than a high major guy but he’s developing more and more and has become a reliable shooter.
  • Hercy Miller, 3-star CG: Yes this is Master P’s son, but Miller was apparently excited to receive the offer from Missouri. He’s playing prep in Minnesota but is a California native. USC recently offered which could throw a wrench in the plans.
  • El Ellis, JUCO PG: Ellis has kind of blown up, so we’ll see if the Tigers stay involved. But adding a JUCO guard wouldn’t be a bad idea in a quest to balance the classes.