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Surprise! UIC transfer K.J. Santos commits to Missouri

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The wing transferred to a junior college after spending his freshman season at Illinois-Chicago.

Surprise! I bet everyone thought the next Mizzou Hoops news to hit the Twittersphere would be the reclassification of Jontay Porter. Well, that news had to wait because tonight was K.J. Santos’ turn to turn some heads.

Santos is a former Sunrise Christian Academy product who ultimately chose the University of Illinois-Chicago for college. After one season, he decided to transfer to Tallahassee Community College in Florida to better his chances of playing high major basketball. The Missouri staff took notice.

Recruited by both Cornell Mann and Cuonzo Martin, Santos has never been short on talent. Word from Chicago was that they were all waiting on his recruitment to blow up, but it never did, and he ended up in the Horizon League.

At 6’8 and 210 pounds, Santos fits the description of the type of players Martin likes on his roster: big, long, physical players. He’s more than capable of shooting from beyond the arc — he shot 36.7 percent on 3-pointers as a freshman. His assist rate was low and his turnover rate high, but he’ll spend the next year honing his craft in junior college, where he’ll likely be asked to do a few more things than he was as a freshman at UIC. And where the questions are in his game, the toughness of a coach like Martin could turn Santos into a very, very good player.

Santos joins Javon Pickett in the 2018 class and will sign in the early signing period taking up a roster spot for the 2018-19 season. Santos also joins Reed Nikko and Mitchell Smith in next year’s junior class, helping balance a roster fraught with transfers over the past few years.

SCHOLARSHIP COUNT TIME

Mizzou Basketball Scholarship Count 7-31-17

As you can see, Mizzou officially has one scholarship available for the 2018-19 season. I would expect that number to change with more coming spots available via transfer as the playing time gets doled out this season.

We know Kassius Robertson and Jordan Barnett are graduating after the 2017-18 season, and we expect Michael Porter Jr. to declare for the draft. That leaves three wing spots available for next year’s roster, and now Pickett and Santos have slotted into two of them.

What this does for the rest of the recruiting cycle remains to be seen. The 2018 class was always going to be about playing catch-up for this coaching staff as they worked to make relationships with players nearby. The benefit of adding a JUCO wing is, among other things, the balance of the classes. Spreading things out will help in the long run and should benefit some of the younger guys currently on the roster.

In His Own Words

We chatted briefly with Santos this evening.

So what kind of player is Santos? “[Mizzou is] getting a 6'8 versatile guard that can play and guard the 1-4. I can score the ball at all 3 levels.” For the layman, all three levels is near the basket, mid-range and 3-point range. It’s important for a wing to be able to do that. Santos is an explosive enough athlete that he should have no problem competing in the SEC.

What made him choose Mizzou? “I really liked how Coach Martin and Coach Mann made me a priority and really recruited me hard. [Mizzou is] everything I ever wanted. Great coaches, program, and conference.”

Welcome aboard, KJ! And M-I-Z!