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Mizzou Hoops Player Review: Sean East II

When you needed to juice the pace, just insert Sean East and watch him go!

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament First Round-Utah State vs Missouri Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports


If you’re trying to think of a single word to describe the Sean East experience, that’s the word I would choose: Go.

When Sean East entered the basketball game off the bench, he was there to energize the pace. Which is exactly what he did. The well travelled former JUCO player of the year arrived at MIzzou last summer after stints at John A Logan Junior College, Bradley, and Mass. His signing was heralded and his recruiting ranking out of JUCO was lofty. And while those types of rankings are often hard to quantify and equate to roster impact, East was an integral part of what made Missouri so tough to play against.

When Missouri was at its best, it was attacking on offense. And the only gear East has is the mode “Attack”. With him pushing pace, and pressing the ball up the floor, Mizzou was able to play with a style and pace which made their opponents uncomfortable. Without him in the lineup things were more controlled, and that variety is difficult to game plan against.

By the numbers

Sean East | By the Numbers

Games Starts %Min ORtg Usage%
Games Starts %Min ORtg Usage%
35 1 57.7 102.8 19
23.4 7.3 2.1 2.5 1.3
  • 87%

That was Sean East’s ranking percentile for rim finishing per Synergy Sports. East struggled with his jump shot all season, but if you got him going to the rim he was excellent. Rim finishing is one of the most important aspects of an efficient offense, and having a PG who can finish around the rim sure was helpful.

Sean East II | On/Off Splits | 2022-23

Status Poss Margin Off. PPP Def. PPP Net Rating eFG% ORB% FT Rate TOV% PPS - RIM PPS - Mid PPP - 3FGA
Status Poss Margin Off. PPP Def. PPP Net Rating eFG% ORB% FT Rate TOV% PPS - RIM PPS - Mid PPP - 3FGA
On 1364 86 117.35 111.04 6.3 54.2 25.2 25.1 14.3 1.19 0.8 1.08
Off 982 72 118.28 110.95 7.33 56 27.9 17.9 14.1 1.17 0.8 1.13
Pivot Analysis

At the start of the season, inserting East meant adding a catalyzing agent to MU’s transition attack, especially if you paired him with D’Moi Hodge and Isiaih Mosley. A couple of months later, though, East was pretty much alone in propping up a back court short on depth. Tre Gomillion has dogged by nagging injuries, and Mosley dealt with personal matters that took him out of the lineup.

As early as mid-January, you could see MU’s back court buckling a bit under the strain of a short bench, a pressing style, and a blistering pace. But as you can see, East did an admirable job in the sixth-man role for coach Dennis Gates. Yes, offensive efficiency and perimeter shooting dipped a tad, but overall, the Tigers’ net rating only declined by a single point per 100 possessions, according to Pivot Analysis data.

East’s rim finishing was a useful boost, but he remained an average pull-up shooter (0.82 PPP) and ranked in the 78th percentile nationally for efficiency when using a runner in the mid-range. Basically, he looked a lot like the guy we saw at John A. Logan College. Except for his jump shot. East was just 6 of 35 on catch-and-shoot 3-balls last season, per Synergy Sports data. On film, it looked as if East had tweaked his mechanics, and the early returns were modest to say the least.

Consider this, if six more of those 3-pointers splashed through, East would sit a 0.906 PPP for an efficiency rating. That’s basically on par with DeAndre Gholston. Whether you deem East’s season a success is matter of perspective. The jump from JUCO to a high-major remains tricky and unpredictable, even if a player has prior D1 experience. East was never going to have the same minutes, usage, and free-throw rate that let him pile up big numbers at Logan. But he did have the requisite skills to offer a change of pace to Nick Honor. For the most part, he succeeded in giving Gates that contrast.

Sean East II | Top-5 Lineups | 2022-23

PG CG Wing Wing/CF CF/Post Poss Margin Off. PPP Def. PPP Net
PG CG Wing Wing/CF CF/Post Poss Margin Off. PPP Def. PPP Net
Honor East Hodge Brown, Ko. Carter 100 18 134.11 116.09 18.01
Honor East Gholston Brown, Ko. Carter 72 31 136.95 94.06 42.88
Honor East Hodge Brown, Ko. Diarra 51 -21 83.66 124.51 -40.86
Honor East Hodge Shaw Brown, Ko. 44 -6 121.49 135.25 -13.76
Honor East Hodge Gholston Brown, Ko. 44 3 133.19 126.3 6.88
Pivot Analysis

It’s tough to tie fluctuations in lineup performance to East. But, as we saw, his presence is a net push in the aggregate. That remains the case when you parse individual configurations.

Take the first grouping, for example. We saw this same collection in our review of Nick Honor’s handy work. It experiences an efficiency dip in that it’s more prone to give up high-value rim attempts on the defensive end. Still, it’s a turbo-charged lineup on offense.

But the second lineup’s performance owes its gaudy net rating to keeping Gholston on the floor and taking Hodge out. The third lineup is pulled down when Diarra spells Carter. The fourth sees freshman Aidan Shaw log time at the four, push Kobe Brown to the post, and create a small-ball lineup. Offensively, it holds up, but the dam breaks defensively. Small-ball does work — or at least holds the line — when Gholston, a brawny guard, slides down the lineup to the four.

Through all of it, East operates at combo guard. In fact, he spent about 59.1 percent of his floor time as a secondary ball-handler alongside Honor. Together, they kept a lid on MU’s turnover rate, and the Tigers’ remained efficient around the rim. The issue? MU averaged 0.92 PPS on 3-balls — a 25 percent decline, per Pivot data. So striking the right bargain usually meant keeping Honor, East, and Gholston together.

What’s heartening is that MU saw its net rating jump to 13.44 when East ran the point, per Pivot data. With a deeper backcourt rotation next season, it might be easier for Gates to allocate East more time in that role. And if his jumper bounces back, it might unlock East’s full offensive potential in those high-speed lineups.

Syndication: The Knoxville News-Sentinel Caitie McMekin/News Sentinel / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Sean East Experience could often times be a wild one. East is one of the most fearless basketball players with the ball that we’ve seen in a Missouri uniform in a while. After all, East is responsible, with some help from Mark Kim, for one of my favorite #MizzouTwitter memes of the year... “F*** it, D’moi down there somewhere”

The beauty of having multiple point guards and ball handlers on the roster is how it can alleviate pressure. But the combination of East and Nick Honor was one of competing personalities and styles of play. Honor was the controlled and patient point guard, he brought the ball up and spaced to a corner on a fair amount of plays. East’s three point shooting wasn’t very good all year, but he was good in isolation, and pushing the pace.

With East in the game, the tempo revved up. If Mizzou was ever struggling for points early (which didn’t happen often) you could trust East to try and attack early in the clock and reset the pace.

Defensively East was pretty high risk, high reward. His steal rate was 3.3%, behind only D’Moi Hodge. But with East on the floor, Missouri was 0.06 PPP worse than with him off. His propensity for going for steals could leave him out of position. And with no real backline help from the rest of the roster, being out of position caused some additional buckets.

Otherwise, East was really good for Mizzou last year. His 2FG shooting held up enough you could handle the struggles from three. He reportedly toyed with his shot release during the season with the coaching staff. If East is able to stabilize his shooting at all, he could easily ramp up his offensive efficiency. And if that happens then you have two change of pace point guards and both can hurt you from outside along with good rim finishing. Not bad.