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Mizzou Basketball 2022-23: Figuring out the playing rotation

Playing the game “Who is in your top 8?”

When you’ve been at this as long as I have, the entire year just becomes a cycle of expectations. Each year we do previews, reviews, Study Hall, Roster Math, and at some point during the summer we ask a very basic question:

What players will be in the top 8 of the rotation?

If I’m being honest here, I thought I published a post for this exercise each year, but I guess not every year. If something was published, the title was weird enough it was hard to locate despite a pretty robust search feature, and a full archive.

But we did at least post it last year, and there’s some history on twitter of the convos in the past. We’re at least continuing the tradition with a hopefully more consistent theme this year.

Clearly last year the season didn’t go as planned, since it resulted in a new basketball coach. Part of that was the rotation not being good enough. Still, regardless of how good the players in the rotation are or not, there will be a pecking order.

Here was last year’s pecking order, as picked by you, with their percentage of minutes played next to their name and their rank on the team in minutes played:

  1. Kobe Brown - 74.5% (2)
  2. Jarron Coleman - 67.5% (3)
  3. Amari Davis - 65.1% (4)
  4. Javon Pickett - 74.8% (1)
  5. DaJuan Gordon - 59.2% (6)
  6. Yaya Keita - 9.9% (10)
  7. Anton Brookshire - 11.1% (9)
  8. Ronnie DeGray III - 63.0% (5)
  9. Sean Durugordon - 4.8% (12)
  10. Trevon Brazile - 41.7% (7)
  11. Kaleb Brown - 20.0% (8)
  12. Jordan Wilmore - 7.9% (11)

So we all underestimated DeGray, and perhaps overestimated Pickett, Brookshire, and Keita, but overall not a terrible job projecting who was going to log the minutes. While last year’s roster wasn’t great, it had enough intriguing players to get at least a segment of the fan base excited. And there wasn’t a consensus, other than Kaleb wasn’t going to play much, and neither was Wilmore. In the end we overestimated Cuonzo Martin’s ability to put guys into roles they maybe weren’t quite prepared to play.

Pivoting to this year. It’s a whole new roster... again. 9 new players, with a new coaching staff, and all new roles. Learning Martin and his tendencies, it was somewhat predictable he would end up leaning on Brown and Pickett. But will Dennis Gates have the same tendencies? Relying on his known quantities instead of turning to higher upside youngsters? Will his Cleveland State transfers hold down more minutes than we expect because they get the culture and the playbook better than guys like Aidan Shaw or Mohamed Diarra?

Here’s one thing I know for sure: Isiaih Mosley is going to play a lot. He’s going to take a lot of shots, and he’s going to be the team’s primary option on offense. After that, it’s a little more guesswork. I think Aidan Shaw will have a big role, though probably off the bench. I think we might be overestimating how big of a role Sean East will play. And I really wish I could just go watch practice to see these guys play one another. But I can’t, and the only ones who really knows how things are shaping up are Gates and his staff.

Now, to your picks. Three players received a vote on each ballot: Isiaih Mosley, Kobe Brown, and Sean East. Only Kaleb Brown and Mabor Majak (who is technically not a scholarship player at this point — but I included him because he’s the most likely guy to get a scholarship if there’s an open spot) did not receive a vote. So here are the rankings by most selections:

  1. Kobe Brown — 23
  2. Sean East II — 23
  3. Isiaih Mosley — 23
  4. Noah Carter — 21
  5. D’Moi Hodge — 20
  6. Nick Honor — 20
  7. Mohamed Diarra — 19
  8. Aidan Shaw — 19
  9. Tre Gomillion — 8
  10. Dre Gholston — 5
  11. Ronnie DeGray III — 3
  12. Kaleb Brown — 0
  13. Mabor Majak — 0
  14. Dylan — 1

The consensus here seems to be a solid top 8, with Brown, Mosley, East, Carter, Hodge, Honor, Diarra, and Shaw all getting way more votes than the next three. Tre Gomillion, Deandre Gholston, and Ronnie DeGray all hanging back.

The case for each of those three is strong also. Nobody knows more of what Gates wants than Gomillion. He’s versatile, defends hard, and can facilitate from multiple positions. Dre Gholston was high usage at Milwaukee, but he’s a guy with a good build, and the right traits to step into a lower usage role. He’s capable in catch and shoots, and could step into a top 8 role quite easily. Then there’s DeGray, a guy who is always seeming to be counted out. But here’s the thing about DeGray, at least for me... he just knows how to play. He’s a super high IQ forward who does all the things a lower usage guy should do in the offense Gates ran at Cleveland State. DeGray’s issue is he’s best as a small ball four, but he hasn’t shot the ball well enough to truly stretch the floor. He’s a good defender who is switchable but not onto smaller guards or true post players.

I do expect Gates will have a bigger rotation, and my starting five would be: Nick Honor, Isiaih Mosley, D’Moi Hodge, Kobe Brown, Noah Carter. With Aidan Shaw, Sean East, and Mohamed Diarra getting the most minutes off the bench. But that’s without seeing anyone play with each other. Mosley is the likely minutes leader, and I think East and Honor are going at least hit 50% of their minutes, likely closer each to 60% ore more. And I think Shaw is going to play significant minutes. My last prediction here is about Mohamed Diarra. I think Diarra isn’t going to play as much as some think, at least this year. But I believe his size will keep him in the lineup enough to make the top 8.

Again, this is all without seeing any of these guys play together.