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Mizzou Basketball Roster: Figuring out the playing rotation

It’s time for the top 8, one of my favorite offseason projects.

July is a slow time for college sports.

There’s some small amounts of recruiting news, but mostly we’re just inventing things to talk about. That’s why this fun exercise in roster management has become a summer feature going on since 2015.

That’s right, it’s time for the famous guessing game:


The usual caveats apply here. First, this is a deeper roster than some previous ones. So yes we believe the regular playing rotation will go beyond eight players. And yes, it’s early. But that’s also part of the point. We know the roster, we know who’s back and who’s new. We have a year of watching Dennis Gates coach at Mizzou, and four years of him as a head coach overall to know what he’s trying to do.

So while this is a guessing game, we’re at least informed enough to get close.

But first, how did everyone do last season? Well, here was last year’s pecking order, as picked by you, with their percentage of minutes played next to their name and their rank on the team in minutes played:

  1. Kobe Brown — 71.0% (3)
  2. Sean East II — 57.7% (4)
  3. Isiaih Mosley — 19.7% (10)
  4. Noah Carter — 53.0% (6)
  5. D’Moi Hodge — 71.9% (2)
  6. Nick Honor — 74.2% (1)
  7. Mohamed Diarra — 20.7% (9)
  8. Aidan Shaw — 23.9% (8)
  9. Tre Gomillion — 29.1% (7)
  10. DeAndre Gholston — 57.5% (5)
  11. Ronnie DeGray III — 11.7% (11)
  12. Kaleb Brown — 6.1% (12)
  13. Mabor Majak — 1.5% (13)

I think it’s clear we missed on Mosley but I’m not sure who could’ve predicted the offseason he had. I even said this:

Here’s one thing I know for sure: Isiaih Mosley is going to play a lot. He’s going to take a lot of shots, and he’s going to be the team’s primary option on offense. After that, it’s a little more guesswork.

When Mosley was available and involved, he had that role. But he just wasn’t available enough.

We definitely missed on Gholston also, but at least some of that was in response to Mosley. And while I think most people underestimated Nick Honor, we were preaching the virtues of the Judge when he committed.

The good news is anyone who didn’t know before has bought in on Nick Honor. When I posed the question on Twitter I received 37 responses, and all 37 had Nick Honor listed in the top 8, and he was the only Mizzou player on all 37 ‘ballots’. Here are the overall results:

  1. Nick Honor - 37
  2. Noah Carter - 36
  3. John Tonje - 36
  4. Caleb Grill - 36
  5. Aidan Shaw - 33
  6. Tamar Bates - 32
  7. Sean East - 30
  8. Connor Vanover - 30
  9. Curt Lewis - 11
  10. Trent Pierce - 6
  11. Jesus Carralero - 4
  12. Kaleb Brown - 1
  13. Anthony Robinson - 2
  14. Jordan Butler - 0

I’m a little surprised Butler got no votes, but I’m otherwise not surprised by the list. When I added my own list I did so trying to guess who would play the most minutes and ranked down, so my top 8 were: Nick Honor, Caleb Grill, Noah Carter, John Tonje, Tamar Bates, Sean East, Aidan Shaw, Connor Vanover.

There appears to be at least a little bit of a consensus. At least amongst the less than 40 people who responded to my tweet. But I do think this represents something of a consensus amongst the fan base. The belief here is that the roster is deep enough to be able to get to 10 or 11 players during most games. The expectation is Anthony Robinson and Jordan Butler are prepared for a growth year, that’s how they were recruited. And early word is Trent Pierce is the most ready to compete from the freshmen class. While it seems there’s some skepticism around Jesus Carralero. But maybe he’s this years Gholston.

Here’s who I think is safe:

  • Nick Honor: I don’t think this warrants much explanation. Ideally he won’t be playing 75% of the minutes like last season. Most of that was due to the shorter bench as the season wore on.
  • Caleb Grill: Grill is a little things guy who’s low usage. He defends well and can stretch the floor. So I imagine he’ll be the guy who finds his way to a lot of minutes.
  • Noah Carter: Carter is the closest player Mizzou has to the role Kobe Brown had a year ago. He played starter level minutes last year, and should do so again this year.

Who is going to step forward?

Syndication: The Coloradoan Lucas Boland/The Coloradoan / USA TODAY NETWORK
  • John Tonje: If there is a player here who I think should be in that first list it might be Tonje. But I don’t know what sort of role he is expecting to fill, or what role he will end up in. He’s probably closer to D’Moi Hodge than Gholston when it comes to shot creation. But he’s also one of the few players on the roster with experience producing at a high level.
  • Tamar Bates: Bates is very likely to play a big role on this team, but will it be THE role or just A role. If you’re looking at past production, it’s more likely to be A role, but with some development Bates could be a clear front runner for the player most likely to take a big leap.
  • Aidan Shaw: The most athletically gifted player on the roster, Shaw’s role was uneven this past year. But his, and the teams, expectations for him going forward are heightened this season. I don’t think Shaw is ever going to be a creator offensively, but can he defend, rebound, and knock down open shots? Can he develop an offensive repertoire that makes him dangerous attacking closeouts?
  • Sean East: Of all the guards on the roster, East is perhaps the most adept at breaking down a defender off the dribble. He’s also got a robust finishing package. But he’s also been inconsistent, and his shooting has left a lot to be desired.

Mystery Men

  • Connor Vanover: Maybe it’s unfair to label him a mystery. He’s produced at multiple levels. But there is a question of how effective Vanover can be on a consistent basis in the SEC. If you’re relying on him to play 25 - 30 minutes a night, maybe that’s too much. But how efficient can he be on a nightly basis in 15-20?
  • Jesus Carralero: Obviously this is a big question. Carralero has a good skill level, but it’s a big jump for him athletically into the SEC.
  • Curt Lewis: Another player making a big jump, but Lewis has the strength and athleticism which should hold up. It’s just a question if he can be a consistent enough shot maker to squeeze into the rotation?
  • Kaleb Brown: After entering the transfer portal, Brown had every opportunity to leave but ended up back in Columbia. He hasn’t been able to find a consistent role in his previous two seasons, will a third be any different?

The Freshmen

  • Trent Pierce: Mentioned above, Pierce seems like the most likely freshman to see early minutes. His combination of size and mobility fits well for what Dennis Gates wants to do. There’s just a question of if he can beat out older and more experienced players for those minutes?
  • Jordan Butler: Mizzou needs some interior size, and Butler can provide it. If he’s a fixture in the rotation I don’t think you view that as a bad thing.
  • Anthony Robinson: Robinson knew when he committed that this year might be tough for minutes. He is a talented young player, but it wouldn’t be a terrible idea for him to catch a redshirt.