ALL OF THIS IS SUBJECT TO CHANGE AND CHANGE QUICKLY SO BEAR WITH ME.
Before I even get into all this, I want to set our parameters. We’re using this exercise to look at what new head coach Dennis Gates might be looking for based up who is currently on the roster and not in the transfer portal. We are going to make assumptions that are unlikely to hold up. Like:
- If a player is in the transfer portal they will not be on the roster next season (more likely)
- If a player is NOT in the transfer portal they WILL be on the roster next season (less likely)
Neither of those things will be completely true by the end of the off season. But it’s a fair place to start. Let’s start with the scholarship count.
Right now there are four open scholarships for next season, and 8 the following year. The roster isn’t in great shape, but it’s also not completely terrible. Much of the roster last season contained some decent parts if mostly miscast without a lead role or two (or three). But having four spots to fill gives Dennis Gates some flexibility, and then another four open up next season. So Gates can afford to be aggressive in the portal and recruiting this spring, and can do the same next year.
What are the needs?
Technically Christian Jones could be a point guard, he played the position in high school and in the summer circuit. But I slotted him into the CG spot to illustrate a very big important need for this team. I don’t even have to tell you, Missouri needs a point guard. More than anything else, they need a point guard.
Any other needs are secondary, there’s size and a plethora of secondary ball handlers. So a wing scorer (preferably some one who can shoot it a little) would also help out. Then probably some size.
In Cuonzo Martin’s quest to move to flexible position-less basketball he ended up with too many guys who don’t have positions. There are some good basketball players, but nobody you can define by what they’re good at.
Which is why I don’t think you want a mass exodus, but maybe there aren’t many guys you fight too hard to keep around. I don’t mean that to be dismissive of any single player, but this isn’t a simple straightforward rebuild. We don’t know what Gates wants this program to look like in 5 to 10 years, and the transfer portal and Name, Image, and Likeness have turned everything on its head. Season to season programs can look completely different.
When you see the immediate depth chart it’s a little striking. There are a few familiar names that everyone is probably thinking about. So let’s talk about them.
- Aidan Shaw: Mitchell Forde reported Dennis Gates had touched base with the former Mizzou signee. If you’re building a list of players who were connected to Mizzou at one point and trying to weight importance, I’d put Shaw at the very top. There are a lot of people who seem to think Shaw wouldn't have an immediate impact. But that’s not who Shaw is. He’s not a 30% usage type guy, but he’s an immediate impact player.
- Anton Brookshire: This may surprise some, but I believe Mizzou has a better shot at retaining Brookshire than they do Trevon Brazile. Brookshire also adds two components that the Mizzou roster is otherwise lacking, ball-handling and shooting. Brookshire had a rocky first run as a freshman, but his ability and potential are still there. I don’t know the likelihood of Anton coming back to Columbia, but I would certainly invest the time into him.
- Trevon Brazile: Yeah, I don’t feel very good about Brazile coming back. Rumors are that after Cuonzo Martin’s departure, some Mizzou boosters caught wind of Brazile’s likely departure and put together an NIL package to keep him invested at Mizzou. Once Brazile hit the portal you’ve seen the programs who have reached out: Arkansas, Kentucky, Texas A&M, Illinois, I’ve also heard Kansas and Baylor have shown interest. The waters got deep in a hurry, and at what point does Missouri have to ask if the juice is worth the squeeze. Brazile’s ascension has been fast enough that he’s drawn interest from the NBA and could also enter the draft. Brazile seems destined for the league sooner than later — and while having more talent on the roster next year is ALWAYS helpful — it may not be as important for the program to keep Brazile vs Shaw or Brookshire. Both would be on the roster longer (potentially, who knows with the portal these days), but they’re pieces you can build with.
- Javon Pickett: I love Javon. This doesn't make much sense to me. He’s spent four good years at Mizzou. But those years were playing under Martin, who he went out of his way to stand up for in late season press conferences. Javon deserves a clean start. And even with a new coach, I don’t think it makes sense for him to make that clean start where he’s been for the last four years.
As for those who haven’t entered the portal, clearly the guys who were most productive you want back. For nothing else to help bridge the gap. The good news is even if everyone sticks around, there are 8 scholarships to flip over the next few years.
But in the meantime I think we’re waiting on any other Tigers to potentially enter the portal. And waiting to hear what kind of money Gates has available to put together a staff. And then what kind of players that staff has connections to in order to try and overcome the roster setbacks which currently exist.
Welcome to Mizzou, Coach Gates!