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Scholarship Math: Mizzou strikes early with the addition of John Tonje

Tonje brings a versatile perimeter player to next year’s roster and should immediate fill in big minutes on the wing.

NCAA Basketball: New Mexico at Colorado State Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

While the transfer portal has been open for a few weeks and names have been pouring into it on a regular basis, things around Columbia have been eerily quiet. No real news of players leaving or even coming in for a visit have gotten outside of the walls of Mizzou Arena since the season ended.

That quiet ended yesterday morning when Dennis Gates sent out his ‘Bat Signal’ tweet a little before 11:00 am. Gates has been liberal with his usage of this tweet so there was no telling what it might be about. It’s usually about a recruiting commitment, but not always. So we mused about what it might be.

We didn’t have to wait very long though, as the news hit Instagram and quickly made its way to Twitter via The Portal Report’s tweet reporting Colorado State transfer John Tonje had committed to Mizzou:

The news on Tonje (pronounced TAWN-jay) is exciting, and of the portal’s early entrants, he was towards the top of my personal list. Since we knew Missouri was at least replacing the production of D’Moi Hodge, DeAndre Gholston and Tre Gomillion, Tonje makes a ton of sense in this spot.

First, watch some film/highlights to get a sense of who he is as a player:

Tonje is a 6’5 wing who has played all four years of college at Colorado State. Each of the last two seasons he played a good amount of time as a combo forward, but Colorado State often played small. He’s a natural wing and his turnover rate suggests he could be used as a combo guard in a pinch.

As a true freshman, he averaged about 8.4 minutes. That jumped to 20 mpg as a sophomore, then 25.3 as a junior, and this past year at 31.3. His scoring averages went from 3.6 ppg to 6.6, then 9.1, and finally 14.6. What you want to see though is as his minutes and usage increased, his efficiency largely remained the same. His freshman ORtg was 108.8, it dipped as a Sophomore to 102.6, then back up to 109.4, then his past season he was at 106.1.

Last year he attempted 86 threes and hit on 36% of them. This season he attempted 152 and hit 36.8%. Per Tonje shot 47.3% of his shots from behind the arc, and 31.6% of his shots were at the rim where he converted 64.8% of those shots.

There is another added benefit; Niko Medved runs an offensive system which is strikingly similar to what Dennis Gates has run at Missouri, as Matt Harris walked through on Twitter last night. A year ago the Rams were one of the top offensive units thanks to the versatility of David Roddy. Roddy was an undersized post player but his nifty footwork and ball skills made him one of the toughest covers in the country. Mizzou had a player like that this past year in Kobe Brown.

So Tonje should fit in well right way, regardless of how the rest of the roster pans out.

Now about that roster... [Updated]

mizzou basketball scholarship count 2023-03-28

First thing you may notice is that I’ve trimmed a column. Where this used to be four columns wide, then three, we’re down to just two columns now. With the transient nature of basketball rosters these days, it didn’t make much sense to look out past a couple years.

Based upon the graphic above there is currently just one scholarship available. However, I don’t expect this to remain static. Here’s what we think we know at this point:

  • Aidan Shaw is expected back.
  • The three freshmen are all expected to be on campus this summer.
  • Curt Lewis will sign in the spring period and be on campus this summer.
  • John Tonje is committed and will sign and be on campus this summer.
  • Nick Honor, Noah Carter, and Sean East II are all expected back.
  • There are questions about everyone else.

Those not listed include Kobe Brown, Isiaih Mosley and Mabor Majak. I think we can say Majak is expected back, maybe on scholarship or maybe not. That depends on a lot of other things.

Kobe Brown is planning on exploring the draft process. Current projections have him as a late second round pick at best, and if those projections hold I would expect Brown to return to Missouri next year. It’s possible Brown gets a late 1st round grade, and if that happens he could stay in the draft. But it’s our belief that without a 1st round grade Brown will return at this point. Another note is I asked Mizzou for clarification on the scholarship issue with Kobe, if he were to return would he could against the 13 allotted scholarships and the answer is he would count against the 13. The exception the NCAA allowed only existed for the 2020-21 season.

Isiaih Mosley is in a bit more of a precarious position. This season clearly did not go as planned for him, through no fault of his own. Everyone on both sides is open to Mosley returning and playing one last year for the Tigers. Clearly a part of that is the things which kept Mosley out of action would need to have more clarity and it just isn’t there. So it’s a bit of a holding pattern for the time being. I hate to be this vague about the situation, but we’ve gone this long not talking about specifics, we’ll be fine going a bit longer. But I would say things look good for a Mosley return next year.

The other players still outstanding are Kaleb Brown, Ronnie DeGray III, and Mohamed Diarra.

I mentioned on the forthcoming podcast but there is some talk that Diarra could return to France and play professionally. I don’t expect Diarra to transfer from Mizzou, but I can envision a scenario where he isn’t back on the roster next year. Update: Diarra was the first player from last years roster to enter the transfer portal. Obviously the information we had was to not be surprised if he wasn’t on the roster next year and the possibility of going home to play professionally was on the table. At this point Diarra is in the portal, and it’s possible he wants a place with some more time to develop. And it’s trending towards Mizzou making a push to be really good next year, and less of a development year.

I don’t know what is going to happen with Kaleb Brown or Ronnie DeGray, but it does seem like minutes on this team next year will be hard to find for both of them. Kaleb has his brother, so it’s possible he may just prefer to be around his brother for another season. And Ronnie DeGray has transferred once already. So those aren’t the straightforward situation you’d otherwise hope for.

At the same time it’s been known that Missouri isn’t done looking for players this spring. We know Gates and his staff want to add another big to the roster to improve their defense and rebounding. Missouri has also been linked to multiple other guards. So I’d expect they want to add two more players.

And if you do the math... it doesn’t add up.

There’s one scholarship remaining available. If Kobe comes back, that’s his scholarship. If Gates and staff add two more, then they’re two over. If Isiaih Mosley comes back that's three over. If Jarin Stevenson decides he wants to reclassify and hit campus this summer well then that’s four over. I’m sure you can get creative if you need to be. But moreso, I think this all points to some movement which will provide us more clarity soon.