He did it again!
Just two short weeks after landing the initial commitment of the 2023 recruiting class in guard Anthony Robinson II, Dennis Gates already has another lined up. We mentioned Trent Pierce as a potential addition in the last Scholarship Math post. Pierce, a listed 6’8 wing, visited Columbia in late June, and didn’t take long to make his decision. Something which seems to be becoming a theme for Gates and his recruiting.
Pierce’s commitment came quickly, considering how long Charlton Young was involved with Robinson. Mizzou got involved with a top 100 wing prospect from out of state recently, and landed a commitment within months of recruiting him. That’s nothing if not impressive. Minnesota, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma all had months, or years even, of a head start on Pierce. But Gates’ message was simple and clear enough to secure a commitment.
As a quick scout, Pierce is a very intriguing prospect. He’s listed on recruiting sites as being 6’8. He’s been mentioned as being 6’9, and he himself said he’s up to 6’10 in a recent interview. While Matt Harris mentioned he shot the ball poorly during his most recent EYBL outing — his strength on offense has been the spot up jumper — that shouldn’t deter anyone from seeing him as a great option as a 3&D type rotational player early in his career.
Pierce is the perfect player for the modern game. Regardless of if he’s 6’8 or 6’10, he moves well in space and has keen defensive instincts. He’s just as comfortable pushing ball handlers away from their on-ball screens as he is moving his feet to maintain position going towards the basket. And with his length, he’s capable of making up ground and still getting his hands on shot or pass attempts. He’s precisely the type of player Gates and Young would seek out while coaching at Florida State.
I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. Next year’s scholarship count is going to be a little weird. Technically, three seniors could return. If they do, that leaves just two remaining spots. So somewhere between two and five (or more, thanks to the transfer portal) spots are still out there. Based upon these numbers, it seems likely Missouri might still be looking to add at least two more spots before the fall signing period wraps up.
I’m listing Pierce here as a combo forward. That spot is really trending towards being completely interchangeable with the wing spot. Most modern offenses want two primary ball handlers, and then 2-3 long athletic defenders who can switch multiple positions.
So much of positionality comes out of who you can defend, and Pierce looks like he will be able to defend nearly anyone. He won’t start on the opposing point guard, but if he gets switched onto one you can imagine he’ll be at least adequate. But you can see the roster, and the vision, starting to take shape.
Robinson at point guard, Aidan Shaw and Pierce attacking the rim and stretching the floor, all while they can switch and defend multiple positions.
What’s left for the class?
I said that last time, but it remains true. The biggest challenge for the staff going forward is getting a big on board. The most frequently named big man associated with Missouri so far has been Arrinten Page. They’ve offered Zayden High, Dennis Evans, JP Estrella, Jordan Butler, Carey Booth, and Papa Kante. Page is the only one who’s been on campus so far. We should starting finding out soon if others have Mizzou up on their list, or will be heading to campus for a visit.
Parker Friedrichson and Cameron Christie seem to be the most likely targets for Mizzou as a high level shooter. After that, the known targets thin out a bit. Matt Reed has mentioned Mizzou as being in touch.
But with Robinson and Pierce, Missouri has a very solid start to the 2023 class. Both are high upside, long term plays who fit into what we’ve perceived to be the long term vision of Dennis Gates at Missouri.