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Scholarship Math: We’re officially over

Last night’s commitment of D’Moi Hodge means Missouri technically has too many players.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: JAN 23 Milwaukee at Cleveland State Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Things are moving fast these days in Columbia, Missouri. At least for Dennis Gates and his basketball team. It was just on Thursday when we were talking about how the Scholarship numbers were getting tight even before the commitment of Junior College point guard Sean East. East technically took up the last available scholarship for the 2022-23 season. But then a funny thing happened last night...

That’s when Cleveland State leading scorer D’Moi Hodge ALSO committed to Missouri. So to recap the spring so far:

That’s five players into the portal (including Sean Durugordon) and Javon Pickett taking an extra year. Wilmore has landed at Northwestern State, Pickett at SLU, Brazile at Arkansas. Brookshire is still out there, with Gordon and Durugordon. But five players out (Pickett wasn’t going to count against the 13 scholarships next year if he chose to stick around), Gates has held on to the two signed players, added four transfers, and two JUCO players.

So far Kobe Brown, Boogie Coleman, Amari Davis, Ronnie DeGray III, Kaleb Brown, and Yaya Keita have all not entered the transfer portal. That’s six players. With 8 players coming in... yeah that’s 14. One more than the limit.

To the graphic:

mizzou basketball scholarship count 4-16-2022

I mentioned last night on twitter the technicalities, but I’ll cover them here as well.

TECHNICALLY, you can sign as many players as you want in the spring and summer, as long as you get to 13 scholarship players by August 1st. That date may not be 100% correct, but that’s the gist of it. You can ride with more guys to a point, but at the point you gotta get down to the right number. Most teams don’t use that rule, because it’s really pretty unfair to the players to send anyone packing on July 31st. Players tend to want more time to find a home than less time. And in the rare situations when a coach goes over their 13 scholarship limit it’s when they’re aware of a player who has intentions on leaving the program.

But we’ve had no indications of any of the six players intent to leave. In fact, if you thought Kobe Brown or Ronnie DeGray III were possibilities to move on, well Dennis Gates took a picture with Justin Gage for twitter and you can see the two players behind Gates and Gage. They’re working out with the staff.

Stuff like this is why I’m always hesitant to say “Well, it’s clear ‘X’ player should be out” because unless you’re hearing it straight from that player it’s risky at best to assume something like that.

Our crack staff here at Rock M Nation has reached out to a LOT of different sources trying to get indications one way or the other on intentions from any of the remaining players. We’ve gotten basically nothing back to indicate anyone is going anywhere. Obviously something has to give here.

If you’re looking at the roster, it’s... still a bit of a mess.

While Gates has seeming landed his starting PG, and he’s added transfers to fill out spots, he’s largely added players who have similar skill sets to who are already there. Every guy is a little different, but you can see some repeating skill sets. And should the NCAA change their rules and let Mizzou carry 14 scholarship players the lineups will be wildly interesting to follow. Just look at a depth-by-position below:

mizzou basketball depth by position 4-16-2022

This isn’t meant to be a “projected starters” or a real depth, but just to demonstrate where the roster currently is. There are a lot of hybrid wings. Guys you don’t really want being a primary ball handler (which would include Coleman) but also aren’t going to be defending the opponents center very often. That number is roughly 10 of the 14 guys. I also think there’s a need around the basket. Diarra is intriguing, but Keita has had some significant injuries recently and we don’t know how healthy he is going to be. You could also use some shooting.

But one player has to go with how the roster is today. So if you add a post, that’s two. If you add a shooter and a post, that’s 3. If you add another primary ball handler that’s FOUR!

Next season doesn’t have to be a rebound back into the top 25 and a protected seed for Gates’ Tigers. It’s about building the foundation for what Gates wants this program to become. Eat your vegetables, as the esteemed Nate Edward likes to say. But he is importing a good amount of experience, which would indicate he wants enough roster flexibility going into the 2023 recruiting class as possible, and he wants older guys who can help him set the tone.

I don’t mean to throw cold water on any excitement, but it’s a big step up going from the Horizon League to the SEC. Don’t forget that Amari Davis was the Horizon Freshman of the Year, and a 17.2 ppg scorer as a sophomore. He played against Cleveland State twice as a sophomore and scored 27 and 29 points on 18/26 shooting. He averaged 9 ppg at Missouri last season. Hodge averaged 15.4 ppg and Gomillion averaged 10.5. Sean East averaged over 20 ppg in Junior College but averaged just 9 ppg at Bradley.

This isn’t to say these aren’t good additions, but it’s healthy to have appropriate expectations going into this. Vegetables are healthy! There’s reason to believe Mizzou won’t be awful next year, simply because they should be better defensively. So far Gates has done a good job of identifying guys who can defend well enough, and that should help. Having East handling the ball instead of Coleman or Kaleb Brown will help.

But it seems like the roster makeover isn’t done, that’s probably a good thing. But it’s still very weird considering there are guys who are going to have to be moved out.