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The saga of the Courtney Ramey’s recruitment has gotten very interesting

And we may just be getting started.

Basketball: Spalding Hoophall Classic Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

Most of the time when picking a time to record a podcast, it’s all about convenience. We don’t necessarily have to worry about breaking news occurring as we’re recording.

We weren’t that lucky the last time around, and Courtney Ramey released his “Top 10” list in the middle of our recording. That led to some immediate reactions.

There’s a lot to parse, but one thing is clear: Courtney Ramey is the single biggest thread tying Missouri’s 2018 — and even 2019 — recruiting together. His decision on whether to come to Missouri or head elsewhere will have ripple effects.

Yesterday we broke down who Missouri is pursuing in the 2019 class, and earlier we took a deeper look at which transfers are on Mizzou’s list. With two breakdowns behind us. Now it feels like the appropriate time to run the thread between them and tie the knot.

I know, I’m tired of this metaphor as well.

Mizzou is slow-playing potential transfers, and there is a clear rationale driving that decision: giving Ramey ample time for his deliberations.

That process, however, is — and this is putting it generously — opaque. After sit-down meetings with Illinois’ Brad Underwood and Oklahoma State’s Mike Boynton last week, Ramey sent a signal that patience will be a virtue moving forward.

Final 10 @tipton.edits

A post shared by Courtney Ramey (@ramey_.13) on

To be clear, only Courtney Ramey and his father, Terrell, know what’s afoot here. We’re the ones trying to offer educated speculation, and that entails reading events.

  • For example, Illinois landed a prize on Saturday in Andres Feliz, the nation’s top-rated JUCO point guard.
  • A day later, Ohio State took a commitment from Florida State transfer CJ Walker. And if you needed more evidence the Buckeyes may be out, consider the fact coach Chris Holtmann stopped by the Metro East to see Belleville West’s E.J. Liddell, a swing through St. Louis that didn’t include Ramey. We’ve also caught wind they haven’t pursued Ramey much in recent weeks focusing instead on immediate scoring help.
  • Finally, newly-minted Louisville coach Chris Mack poured cold water on the notion of the Cardinals bringing Ramey back into the fold.

Again, conjecture is risky, but the evidence seems to suggest Illinois, Ohio State, and Louisville have stepped off the track in the race for Ramey’s services. At times, Minnesota, SMU, and Oregon have checked in on the point guard, but it seems more reasonable to assume Texas, Oklahoma State, Missouri and South Carolina (which replaces Illinois) make up the most viable quartet of suitors.

But there’s an opportunity cost to hanging in with the Rameys.

At some point, the market for high-impact grad transfers will be picked clean. The guiding logic has been that if Cuonzo Martin landed Ramey, he would swipe a plug-and-play jump-shooter. And if the Tigers struck out, they’d pluck an experienced lead guard.

In theory, those are solid approaches. But it also assumes there’s ample supply to meet demand. Meanwhile, the prospects Mizzou has checked in with have reported that there has been no attempt to set up in-home visits or trips to Columbia.

The longer Martin hangs back, the more constrained his options become for obtaining immediate help. We could potentially infer that means he feels confident about his chances to land Ramey, while also stashing a traditional transfer for the 2019-20 campaign.

NCAA Basketball: Evansville at Louisville
Dru Smith
Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

With Ramey in hand, both Mark Smith (remember Mark is visiting this weekend) and Dru Smith — both of whom would have to sit a year — become much easier to take on because Ramey can immediately absorb starter minutes at the point. Both Smiths are capable of being lead guards, but Dru is the more natural ball handler. You still need some outside shooting though.

So the most logical connection would be to add Ramey, a grad transfer senior combo guard, and a you-pick-the-transfer. Ideal case? Ramey, South Dakota’s Matt Mooney, and a Smith. If Cuonzo is indeed the wizard he’s proven to be to this point, the Smith is Mark. Rumors suggest Ramey and Smith not wanting to be on the same team. But the talent level of both players is through the roof, and they would compliment each other’s game well.

If Ramey were to commit, the ripple effects would hit the 2019 class as well. The need for a guard lessens, so maybe that impacts Mario McKinney’s recruitment.

These last three spots in Missouri’s 2018 class are incredibly important for the program for the next few years. The latest chapter begins this weekend with a visit from Mark Smith.