Despite his status as a top-10 in-state prospect for the class of 2016, Harry Ballard III never really saw his recruitment take off because of qualification risks. It appears that he didn't take his grades very seriously early in high school and was facing a likely JUCO detour because of it. But he has been working to change that, and it appears he's got a chance.
Ballard’s current ACT score of 18, combined with his 2.1 cumulative grade point average in his core classes, is just enough to allow him to redshirt his freshman year at a Division I program. He could be on campus and with the team but could not play until his sophomore year after he met certain academic criteria. But if Ballard scores a 19 or better on Feb. 6, he will be eligible for a Division I program in the fall.
Ballard didn't sign with a school on Signing Day, but with his ACT attempt in the rear view mirror, he committed to Missouri on Tuesday night.
"All the big schools knew I had a grade problem and then backed off," he said. "So I sat back and watched to see who still recruited me knowing it would all pay off in the end. When my senior year came around, everybody started coming back slowly, like Alabama, Clemson, Florida State, all the big schools. I looked at them like, you didn’t believe in me, so why should I believe in you? Mizzou was recruiting me through thick and thin, so I made my commitment to Missouri."
"I see all my St. Louis friend going D1 so I had to step up my game. I knew I could be like them if I put my head to it," continued Ballard. "I’m taking six core classes right now and I’ve been getting A’s and B’s in all my classes since the end of my sophomore year. I will be fully qualified."
I will be a Mizzou Tiger !— HB3SZN! (@Harry_Ballard12) February 10, 2016
Harry Ballard tells me tonite after he committed to @MizzouFootball that they wouldn't have signed him if they didn't he'd be eligible.— Frank Cusumano (@Frank_Cusumano) February 10, 2016
Harry Ballard is 6-2 210 pds. He ran a sub 4.4 40— Frank Cusumano (@Frank_Cusumano) February 10, 2016
at Illinois. His verticle is over 40 inches. Nice kid. Freaky athlete. @KSDKSports
Harry Ballard is *allegedly* a high school senior. Lol pic.twitter.com/yPfihDs468— Brandon Kiley (@BKSportsTalk) February 10, 2016
Obviously, he could still get an unhappy surprise with his final ACT score, but it sounds like he'll be eligible to come to campus in the fall either way; it's just a matter of whether he would have to take a mandatory redshirt or not. Regardless, Missouri just landed perhaps the most explosive, freakishly athletic prospect in the state for the 2016 cycle. Ballard's highlight film above belies a player who is stronger and faster than everybody else on the field and knows it. And he plays in a position of need for the Tigers. If he indeed fully qualifies, he becomes a late-game steal for Missouri.
Earlier on Tuesday, the Post-Dispatch's Ben Frederickson wrote a piece about Cornell Ford, the reverence he receives walking the hallways in St. Louis, and the importance of Barry Odom keeping him in the fold. Ballard's commitment is another feather in Ford's cap.