I feel like we were just here.
I mean, we kinda were. It was just two weeks ago when I wrote our last Scholarship Math post after consecutive commitments from Kaleb Brown and Sean Durugordon. Now, we’re back, because coach Cuonzo Martin and Mizzou secured another pair of commitments in the 2021 class.
On Tuesday, it was Trevon Brazile, a 6-8 wing, whose recruitment exploded over the last few weeks as a late bloomer.
Competing among 80 of the best prospects from around the midwest, Brazile showed newfound comfort and the hallmarks of a fast-riser piquing the interests of Arkansas, Illinois, Wichita State, and Wisconsin. By this past weekend, blue-blood suitors such as Kansas and Virginia began sniffing around.
Quietly, though, Missouri coach Cuonzo Martin had been courting Brazile in the weeks leading up to his breakout. On Tuesday, he became the first high-major coach to extend an offer. Several hours later, Brazile snapped it up, committing to the Tigers and becoming the fourth member of the program’s 2020 recruiting class.
A day later, with the possibility of spots disappearing, DeSmet post Yaya Keita pledged to Mizzou as well.
From a physical standpoint, Keita’s built for the rigors of high-major hoops with a muscular frame, strong hands, and a sturdy base to body up on the block. A youth spent playing soccer in Mali, where Keita grew up, also helped him develop nimble feet and spatial awareness that comes in handy operating as a roller and cutter.
In another era, the Spartans’ offense would orbit around its sizable front line. Yet coach Kent Williams’ system doesn’t flow through Gassama or Keita. Playing in the half-court, Keita’s touches come by slipping picks on side ball-screens, diving on high pick-and-rolls, and filling the short corner when a defense rotates.
Mizzou has a five-man recruiting class, one with a healthy ranking of fourth in the SEC. Admittedly, that will slip as peers fill out their vacancies. (I mean, Kentucky is currently ninth.) However, two of MU’s recruits — Brazile and Brown — are unranked, and it’s likely that will change. As it stands, they’re neither helping nor hurting the Tigers’ overall standing.
So, what to make of this group’s quality?
- Anton Brookshire: rated a four-star talent by ESPN and a top-150 player on 247Sports’ composite
- Sean Durugordon: rated a four-star prospect by ESPN
- Yaya Keita: rated No. 145 nationally by Rivals
- Kaleb Brown: rated a three-star recruit by 247 and unrated by ESPN and Rivals
- Trevon Brazile: Unrated by any recruiting service
So, MU has landed three guys who fall somewhere between a high three-star and a low four-star rating. Meanwhile, two more haven’t been fully vetted by scouts. And while I don’t think Brazile is headed toward a four-star grade at this point, his ceiling is the most enticing of the group.
To the scholarship graphic!
It feels almost a little too weird for the bulk of the class to be filled. In the past few cycles, Martin hasn’t had this many gaps to fill, and this is easily his largest class since the gaudy group from 2017. There’s just one opening left, and it would be a surprise to see it filled by a freshman. However, there are still some targets left on the (mostly empty) recruiting board.
Mizzou made the cut for guard Blake Wesley, a borderline top-100 talent, and there’s still an offer on the table for a fast-rising guard like Miles Kelly. Both could provide sought after help on the perimeter, because there are some holes.
Look at depth for point guard and combo guard. Sure, Kobe Brown and Kaleb Brown are both skilled enough to handle the ball, but Brookshire and Xavier Pinson are the only real ball handlers of the group. This also assumes Pinson will even be back. If he does have a breakout junior campaign, he’ll likely decamp for a paycheck. In that case, the need for ball handlers grows.
In all likelihood, Martin may only need two more pledges, and it’s clear where they’re needed. The only question is where he’ll source them from. Maybe they find a breakout prep prospect. Do they try to nab a disaffected mid-year mover? At worst, they can hold out until spring to peruse the transfer market, one where immediate eligibility waivers appear to be likely.
Still, the Tigers closed summer strong. In Brookshire, they have a capable ball handler with a sweet shooting stroke. Durugordon’s length could help him carve out an early role defensively. Brazile oozes potential, but does he need to fill out his frame—the kind a redshirt offers? Keita’s floor is such that he could earn reserve minutes as a rebounder and cutter. And we’ll see how Kaleb Brown looks after Nicodemus Christopher gets the chance to mold him.
The foundation looks set, but a strong spring is imperative, especially given the rate of churn in the sport. While there’s some tantalizing prep prospects on board, none appear ready for major roles early on, putting pressure on Martin and his staff to sniff out and land impact veterans to ensure a smooth transition.