It might be hard for some of you to believe, but we are currently scouting players who will graduate high school in 2020. A whole class of students who were born in years like 2002 and 2003. And some of them have gotten very good at basketball and could be playing at Mizzou Arena in a few short years.
I wanted this to set the stage with these players so we can piggy back on my piece from Monday talking about positionless basketball and its meaning and application at a place like Missouri.
We’ll have plenty of time this season and next to work out who are the primary guys and who is more or less likely to end in black and gold. But it’s important to note these early offers because they signal who Mizzou is likely to focus heavily on.
The coaching staff threw out eight early offers for 2019. To date, they are still actively pursuing six of those players.
The eight: Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, Romeo Weems, Rocket Watts, E.J. Liddell, Mario McKinney, Francis Okoro, Isaiah Mosley, and Malik Hall. They’ve since fallen off tracking Robinson-Earl and Weems, but have stuck with the others. In the end, Mizzou has thrown out over 20 offers to the 2019 class, but they’ve really stuck to six of their first eight and they probably aren’t going to take more than four in the class.
I’m just saying, these offers are important.
Back in March, their first 2020 offer went to 5-star post Xavier Foster.
Foster is a maturing big from Oskaloosa, Ia., whose shooting range is growing. The No. 34 player for 2020, he isn’t quite Jontay from a ball handling/shooting/passing perspective, but he’s a highly skilled post player, and its clear the Tigers are going to need a post player in this class. So they’re attacking a semi-local player early in hopes of being able to pry him out of Iowa.
A lot of you know the story of five-star guard Joshua Christopher already, but if you missed it, here’s a link to Alex Schiffer’s story on him from last weekend:
While Missouri hasn’t offered any recruits in the 2020 class yet, it’s safe to say the Tigers will be in the mix.
Hollender has already been out west to watch him, and the 6-foot-4 two-guard said he thinks of the world of Nicodemus. He believes Martin’s success at California and Missouri is partly a reflection of Nicodemus’ work with athletes.
“That’s my guy,” Christopher said of Nicodemus. “I love that guy. I can call him and talk about anything. At the end of the day, whether I pick Mizzou or not, that’s still family.”
As a strength coach, Nicodemus will never draw up plays for his younger cousin. But Josh said the family connection could still be a factor in his recruitment.
You’ll notice the strategic picture selection by the younger Christopher. Joshua is an elite player. I don’t mean to just embed my way through a post but this highlight video is fun, even though I’m not exactly sure what the shoe thing is about:
The family connection is big for Christopher and Martin, and I’m sure the Tigers will be in it to the end. But there will be no small number of teams looking to add him to their roster, and Christopher has already added offers from basically the entire west coast as well. He’s an elite playmaker who can be the primary ball handler at 6’5, but he has the kind of body (and family history) to add enough strength to defend 1-4 positions on the floor.
Once the two elite offers went out, the local offers streamed in.
Vashon’s Cam’Ron Fletcher might be my favorite player in the 2020 class because he’s not even close to tapping into his enormous potential. You watch the ball flutter softly off his fingers on a jump shot, you watch his long strides and easy bounce off the floor, and it’s easy to fall in love with his ability and his potential. Fletcher is a feathery 6’6 right now, but with wide shoulders and long arms he could still be growing, and he’s already the 54th ranked player in his class.
Fletcher is listed on 247sports as a power forward, which makes little sense as he’s a budding wing who plays on the interior in high school and AAU because he’s on teams without any size. But if you watch his game, it’s obvious he’s most well-suited on the outside.
If Fletcher is my favorite in the class, Caleb Love is the heart of it.
If I were Cuonzo Martin and staff I’d have sent out this offer to Caleb Love months ago. I love this kid and his game. I’ve said, ever so eloquently, that his game has a level of “F*** YOU” to it, and it’s splendid to watch.
Love is a 6’3 combo guard from CBC in St. Louis who is more than comfortable as a point guard. He’s currently rated 128th by 247sports. Let’s just say I disagree with that ranking. He’s 83rd at Rivals, which feels better, but I have a hard time imagining there are 60 better players in the country than Caleb Love.
Call me biased because he’s another St. Louis kid, but Love is for real, and I watched him go toe-to-toe against Courtney Ramey in the State Sectionals to the tune of 37 points. He nearly willed his undermanned squad to a win over the heavily favored Statesmen.
This is a kid I want in my corner, and he’ll be a supreme and primary target for Martin and his staff.
The last local offer is a bit of a surprise: Luke Kasubke.
I don’t mean that as an insult to Chaminade’s Kasubke, who is an E-L-I-T-E shooter and completely unafraid of big moments, I just thought Missouri might take a little more time on their evaluation, as Kasubke is rail thin and not a crazy-good athlete.
There is a ton to like, and I did think an offer would eventually get extended because there is no substitute for shooting. Kasubke hasn’t quite racked up the offers, but SLU has gotten involved along with several other mid-majors. He’s got a 6’6 frame and lightning quick release, and he can get his shot off in tight spaces. He’s not currently ranked by 247sports, but it will be interesting to see if he can add some weight. If so I think you’ll see him in for big junior and senior years.
Moses Moody is the wing the 17U Brad Beal Elite team is built around.
Moody is a special player who is racking up offers left and right. He’s picked up Arkansas, Texas A&M, Texas, Baylor, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, Florida State, Illinois, and SMU. He’s currently the No. 28 player per 247sports, a few percentage points shy of being a 5-star prospect.
Moody is a North Little Rock product, and most seem to think the Hogs will be tough to beat for his services, but for a guy that talented and not far from campus, it’s worth it to at least string out the process and make him say no.
The last offer, I honestly don’t know much about.
Honored & Blessed to Recieve my 3rd D1 Scholarship Offer from the University of Missouri pic.twitter.com/uu5ohAGrHC— Jermontae Hill (@The_King_Montae) April 25, 2018
Jermontae Hill is a big combo guard from Georgia. He’s listed at 6’6, and in his profile picture he looks quite thin, but you would be too if you were a 6’6 15-year old playing basketball all the time. Hill kind of fits the mold of what Cuonzo Martin has liked traditionally in his guards: long and athletic.
So there are your first seven offers in the 2020 class. It seems clear to me Martin and his staff knows they need a post, so they offered Foster early, then targeted the elite guy with the family relation in Christopher, then went hard after local targets.
Regardless of who you land in the finish to 2018, and through 2019, there are some severely talented pieces in 2020 that Mizzou should be right in the race for, and maybe even the favorite. If you want to build a consistent winner, you need to build a consistent pipeline of talent into the program and also prevent them from leaving too early, whether through transfer or professional opportunities.
If Martin can land E.J. Liddell and Mario McKinney at least, then Love and Fletcher, you add that to Torrence Watson and Mark Smith, and you have a very nice and deep rotation of talented players. This is how to build a roster to compete for championships.