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Dennis Gates updates offseason progress

Gates met with the media on Thursday to discuss the Tigers’ offseason headlines and look at what lies ahead in the transfer portal.

NCAA Basketball: Kentucky at Missouri Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Portal Power

In its short existence, the transfer portal has never been as full as it is this season. Roughly 20% of Division-I college basketball players have entered the portal this offseason, meaning that the term “offseason” almost does not apply right now.

“This day and age, you have to recruit as if everyone is leaving,” Dennis Gates said. “In my relationships, I assume everyone is returning.”

Gates certainly approves of the transfer portal, citing how many players have fresh opportunities at new places and the need of the collegiate game to continue to evolve. However, he just hopes that none of these players are running away from challenges that may benefit them as players and people in the long-run.

“They’re [players] not moving just to move; they’re moving back. They’re in search of something else,” Gates said. “I just hope that one day they can look back and reflect that they stayed through a storm that developed them as a young player and allowed them to get better, because it’s going to show up later in life.”

He went on to say that he understands that there are certain scenarios where mistakes were made and players are just looking for greener pastures.

As to how he and his staff approach the transfer portal, Gates says that he will be looking for guys that fit his system and won’t be changing much for a certain player.

“I’m not changing my style of play,” gates said. “I’m still trying to lead the country in 3-point shooting and positive assist-to-turnover ratio. We had the right guys in the locker room last season, and we have to make sure we have to right guys in the locker room this season.”

The presumed main position of need for Mizzou at this time is a quality big that can hold down the paint after Mohamed Diarra entered the transfer portal. There are plenty of options, but Gates said that he has already turned down multiple guys because they would not have been the right fit.

As for the future of the portal, Gates sees this offseason as the likely peak.

“I think the bottom and even the top of the transfer portal will go down and you’ll have more entry-level guys coming from JUCO and high school,” Gates said. “At least some of those numbers will drop a bit just because there’s no more extra year portal kids.”

The Newest Tiger

John Tonje out of Colorado State was officially announced as a Missouri Tiger on Wednesday. The senior out of Omaha averaged 14.6 points and 4.7 rebounds per game in 2022-23, and Gates likes what he sees from the 6-foot-5 guard.

“He’ll be able to fit the bill when it comes to his intangibles, his leadership, but also his style of play on both ends of the court,” Gates said.

Tonje is an athletic and strong guard that can be a quality piece on both ends of the floor for the Tigers. With 89 games under his belt, he also brings plenty of experience with him.

“We enjoyed the conversation with him, I’ve enjoyed the conversation with his mom and entire circle, but I’ve also enjoyed conversations when doing the background check with the staff he is coming from,” Gates said. “Now in the transfer portal, you have to talk to the coaches those kids are coming from no matter how awkward it may be.”

Kobe Brown’s Status

The biggest wildcard still remaining in Missouri’s offseason is whether or not Kobe Brown will return for one more year in Columbia. The Tiger legend already has an impressive collegiate résumé and is receiving second round grades in most mock drafts. It was recently announced that Brown would be testing the NBA waters at the bare minimum.

“We won’t know anything about Kobe’s positioning because he’s not that lottery pick on paper,” Gates said. “He has to go through that process and we won’t know what the feedback will be until that Chicago combine. I’ve given him space, given him peace, but also given him counsel when he comes to me with questions of the process.”

The NBA Combine will take place in Chicago on May 16-18. Gates added that he planned on being in attendance to support Brown.

“Kobe Brown has consistently improved and made a big jump,” Gates said. “I think ultimately what NBA teams look at is not where a kid is but what they’ve done. He will continue to develop no matter where he’s at over the next four years, and I think his best basketball is ahead of him.”

He went on to say that he imagines NBA scouts will most want to test Brown on his ability shoot off the move, but also that those scouts will be impressed by Brown’s basketball IQ and ability to defend 1-5.

“Do I think Kobe Brown is a first round draft pick? Absolutely,” Gates said.

Additional Notes

  • “There’s definitely a path for that again.” On Isiaih Mosley being able to be a scholarship player again
  • “You have to understand his relationships throughout college basketball and his expertise offensively and defensively. Keeping him here is definitely important, but I expect to have our guys making decisions based off of other schools or institutions being interested in them.” On C.Y. Young spurning the Temple HC job to return as an assistant coach
  • “You can no longer assume that teams are just operating under 13 scholarships. This season alone there were guys that you didn’t know were walk-ons on the other rosters but could have been scholarship guys elsewhere. Every institution is operating just under the maximum or minimum of 13 scholarships.” On the status of roster numbers across the country
  • DeAndre Gholston, Tre Gomillion, D’Moi Hodge have all been interviewing with G-League/NBA teams.
  • Gates expects incoming 7-foot freshman Jordan Butler to be ready to shoot from behind the arc in his system.
  • “I missed you guys, I got separation anxiety going through that postseason depression. Seeing you guys today helps me get out of that depression.” Gates addressing the media members