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How Mizzou’s transfer portal additions will fit into the 2023-24 roster

The Tigers filled some voids in the portal and now have some fresh faces that should fit right into Dennis Gates’ system.

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

The rollercoaster ride that is the transfer portal is nearing the end of its tracks. The option to enter the portal closed on May 11th for college basketball players and all NBA Draft decisions have been made, meaning that rosters are (mostly) finalized entering the 2023-24 preseason.

The Missouri Tigers were relatively successful in the portal, landing five of their targeted players, while only losing Ronnie DeGray III, Kaleb Brown and Mohamed Diarra to other programs, all of which were expected departures. After Dennis Gates’ first team in Columbia rode the success of a plethora of transfers to Round Two of the NCAA Tournament, Tiger fans are eager to see what the next crop of transfers can accomplish.

Caleb Grill, Tamar Bates, John Tonje, Jesus Carralero and Connor Vanover make up the incoming class of transfers for Gates and Co. Each of them brings a unique skill set to the fold and matches what Mizzou will attempt to do with its scheme on both ends of the floor.

Let’s take a quick look at how these guys may fit into the rotation in 2023-24…

Caleb Grill

Iowa State Transfer | Shooting Guard | 6-foot-3, 196 pounds | Senior

2022-23 Stats: 31.3 minutes, 9.5 points, 4.0 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 1.2 steals per game, 39.3% shooting from the floor, 36.8% from behind the arc

Expected Role: Grill fits the mold of the void that D’Moi Hodge leaves behind. While he lacks a couple of inches of height and reach that Hodge had, Grill is a 3-and-D specialist that can get hot at a moment’s notice. He shot a respectable 36.8% from behind the arc last season, but he was a streaky scorer overall. Grill poured in 31 points in an early season win over North Carolina as well as 24 in a loss to Texas Tech, but he also scored five or less in 10 outings.

But, that is perfectly within the Missouri offense. Under Gates, the 2022-23 Tigers were a team built upon having a variety of scorers that could alternate who would take over during a game. Grill’s defense should be reliable game-in and game-out, meaning that he will be a solid contributor regardless of how he is shooting. If he can improve his percentages just a touch, then Grill could be in line for All-SEC honors this season.

Another point in Grill’s favor: Iowa State’s offense was far more stagnant and slow-paced than Missouri’s was last season. With more floor space and up-tempo play, Grill should only get cleaner looks from the court.

He will certainly challenge for a starting spot, and it is safe to assume that Grill will also be one of the “big-shot takers” for this Tiger squad next season. It will take him a couple of games to find his niche, but Grill will end up being a gritty, tough player that provides a spark for the Missouri offense at times. If he can even come close to stealing the ball away like Hodge did, then Grill may end up being the most productive member of this transfer class.

He’s also got a fair bit of swagger to his game as well:

Tamar Bates

Indiana Transfer | Shooting Guard | 6-foot-5, 190 pounds | Sophomore

2022-23 Stats: 20.4 minutes, 6.1 points, 1.6 rebounds, 1.1 assists per game, 39.2% shooting from the floor, 37.4% from behind the arc

Expected Role: Similar to Grill, Bates will come in and provide a shooting boost for the Tigers. The former 4-star recruit out of IMG Academy played sparingly over two seasons with Indiana but showed flashes of his potential this past season. A 19-point performance against Nebraska in early December showed that he had the ability to become a major contributor, but he never built off of that showing. Bates was streaky for the rest of Big Ten play, scoring 17 in a win over Michigan State on Jan. 22 before not scoring in double-figures again in the regular season.

Bates has a smooth, natural stroke from the perimeter to go along with his 6-foot-5 frame, making it tough to alter his shots. However, he struggled to contribute on the boards, and when shots weren’t falling for him, Bates did not make a major impact on the game.

He’s still a relatively young player, meaning that he has plenty of room to grow within the Missouri program. But, on a Tiger team that lacks size, Bates may be forced to play bigger than he is used to. It remains to be seen if that hinders his ability on both ends or opens up more opportunities for him to contribute against larger defenders.

Regardless, the potential to be a top-tier shooter and assist in filling the void that Hodge left is there for Bates. He may never be a starter for this team, but as a talented player with size, there will certainly be minutes for Bates to take advantage of and find his rhythm in a new setting. Much like Grill, the play style of Gates’ team may end up being far more beneficial for Bates’ skillset as well.

John Tonje

Colorado State Transfer | Small Forward | 6-foot-5, 210 pounds | Senior

2022-23 Stats: 31.0 minutes, 14.6 points, 4.7 rebounds, 1.3 assists per game, 47.3% shooting from the floor, 38.9% from behind the arc

Tonje certainly fits a different niche than what Grill or Bates may provide for this Missouri team. He chose to spend his fifth season of college ball in Columbia, looking to make a name for himself after putting together a stellar 2022-23 season in the Mountain West.

Tonje is a well-built 6-foot-5, and he can use that frame to score at all three levels. He shot 38.9% from behind the arc, but Tonje really excels as a downhill slasher in the paint. He likely won’t be a high-volume scorer with the other offensive options this team will feature, but Tonje is fully capable of being a consistent eight-to-ten-point contributor each night. A stalwart defender as well, the Omaha native should be a quality two-way contributor for this team that is capable of hounding opposing teams’ stars.

A starting role could certainly be in the cards for Tonje depending on how he progresses this offseason. He seems primed to (roughly) fill the role that DeAndre Gholston provided for this program based on his size and skillset, and his experience at the collegiate level should pay dividends for him in making the adjustment to playing in the SEC.

Jesus Carralero

Campbell Transfer | Power Forward | 6-foot-8, 220 pounds | Senior

2021-22 Stats (Injured for much of last season): 25.7 minutes, 9.3 points, 5.7 rebounds, 2.6 assists per game, 46.5% shooting from the floor, 25.0% from behind the arc

Expected Role: It may not have been the true center that many Mizzou fans desired in the portal, but the addition of Carralero was important for the 2023-24 season. He provides some much-needed depth to the frontcourt while also being able to fit into Gates’ up-tempo system as a guy who can handle the ball on the perimeter and step out to take shots. His shot-blocking ability will add an element that was missing for much of last season, and he can be a great facilitator from the perimeter, especially considering that he will likely be guarded by larger defenders for much of the season. Carralero may not be the most productive addition from the portal, but his presence will add much more beyond the stat sheet.

Connor Vanover

Oral Roberts Transfer | Center | 7-foot-5, 227 pounds | Senior

2022-23 Stats: 12.7 points, 7.2 rebounds, 0.8 assists, 3.2 blocks per game, 51.7% shooting from the floor, 32.4% from behind the arc

Expected Role: It took longer than most Tiger fans would have liked, but Missouri solved its height issue in an emphatic way with the addition of Vanover. The former Cal, Arkansas and Oral Roberts player has had an up-and-down career during his multiple stops at the collegiate level, but there is no denying that his presence on the floor can be game-changing.

It goes without saying that his height and length will alter how teams are able to attack the Tiger defense in the painted area, as Vanover is coming off his best defensive season to date. If he can also hang tough on the glass against heavier SEC bigs, then Vanover will earn significant minutes on this team.

In large part, the amount that Vanover plays will depend on the matchup. At the end of the day, while he does run the floor fairly well, Vanover does not fit the Missouri offense’s run-and-gun system as well as a more undersized five-man would. When the Tigers are taking on the likes of Tolu Smith and Tennessee’s various bigs, then Vanover should see the floor often. When they play against a small-ball Ole Miss or Auburn team, then he may not play as much. If Vanover can continue to build off of a productive offensive campaign at Oral Roberts and provide a scoring presence on the block, then that may change.

Also, in researching Vanover, some numbers jumped out at me. Two important statistics for front court players are how well they can convert at the free throw line and if they stay out of foul trouble. Vanover made 81.4% of his free throw attempts last season and only averaged 1.4 fouls per game. Both are very promising figures.