Late Friday night, we got a surprise 2018 commitment.
If you missed the news, you did read that year correctly: 2018. Christian Guess, a three-star wing from Glenville, Ohio, pledged his commitment to Missouri, which came only days after Cullen VanLeer medically retired. Obviously, Guess fills the last remaining slot for the season and assures the roster is jam-packed with freshmen class seriously back loads it with youth.
Counting transfers and redshirts, there are currently 10 players who are either freshmen or sophomores. Only Reed Nikko, Kevin Puryear, and Jordan Geist comprise scholarship holders in upper classes.
If things stay static, the Tigers won’t have a whole lot of scholarships available over the next few classes.
In scholarship graphic form:
Christian Guess fills an immediate need on the perimeter. Missouri’s roster is a bit lopsided at the moment, and not just from a class perspective.
With the Tigers sitting two players out, who are both guards, they are left with only four projected perimeter players, and three of them freshmen. K.J. Santos has enough perimeter skill to be added to the group, but there just isn’t a lot of depth. The roster is so skewed at this point that Puryear, Jontay Porter, and Mitchell Smith could get a fair look at time on the wing.
Adding Guess might help solve some of those questions. He isn’t known as a ball handler, but he’s athletic and unafraid to attack, providing another option for coach Cuonzo Martin at wing — flexibility that’s desperately needed.
Here’s a quick take on the possible depth chart.
With so little knowledge of Guess coming into the commitment, we’re in a little bit of a information vacuum as to what we can expect from the young man. Matt Harris will be able to a little more in depth on what the Tigers are getting, but my sources have given me a pretty basic scouting report. He called Guess a nice prospect, but one he pegged as more of a mid-major plus level prospect and not exactly a can’t miss high-major talent.
If that’s the case, Missouri didn’t necessarily make a poor pickup, just a questionable one. That may seem like only the slightest of differences, but it is significant. Guess falls into the same field as a few others on the roster with question marks and lead as a developmental prospects rather than a more sure bet. This pickup could workout in the best way possible, but the speedy nature of Guess’ recruitment means there is a smaller margin for error than with prospects like Mario McKinney Jr. and E.J. Liddell, both of whom have been vetted and recruited by the staff for more than a year.
Typically, developmental prospects are guys who might provide help early but often more take on larger roles in years two through four. The flight risk for developmental guys is higher, too, because their role typically requires patience — both on the part of the player and the coaching staff that brought them on.
The approach: wait and see
Again, Christian Guess could completely work out. You can see from his film that his athleticism jumps out, and he’s completely fearless on the floor. I’ll just be skeptical about the addition, as we’ve already seen multiple shot-gun marriages like this one fail to pan out for the Tigers in recent months and years. And at some point, Martin needs to make sure the guys he’s adding to the roster are sticking around for more than a year or two.
With VanLeer’s medical retirement, Puryear is slated to be the first four year player at Mizzou since Ryan Rosburg, who wrapped up his career in 2016. And before Rosburg, the last MU player to exhaust their eligibility was Laurence Bowers in 2013. So in past five years, Missouri has had two players spend four years at the school. I’m not saying Guess can’t be one of those players. I’m just pointing out that the track record of six years of these sorts of additions haven’t worked out.
Here’s to hoping for the best.