At midnight Friday, cell phones buzzed to life, and the next recruiting cycle started anew.
For rising juniors, Saturday marked the first time college coaches can verbally contact prospects in the Class of 2021, signaling the official start of their recruitment. Among the many variables at play in a recruit’s calculus, whether a coach was the second or third person to speak to them is, well, holds minuscule weight.
For Missouri’s staff, it passed relatively quietly.
The program didn’t shoot out a flurry of offers, and there weren’t reports of coach Cuonzo Martin and his assistants ringing up targets overnight. All we know is Cornell Mann and Chris Hollender spent Thursday and Friday watching Isaiah Jackson and Cam’Ron Fletcher at the NBPA Top-100 Camp in Virginia. Fletcher has certainly proven to be a primary focus for Martin and his staff. And Eric Bossi of Rivals feels Fletcher might be a must get.
Myself and @coreyevans_10 take #Rivalviews on a variety of topics from #NBPATop100camp. Backing up rankings, must haves for #Mizzou and #Pitt, sneaky good commits for #Northwestern and #OKState plus underpublicized excellence https://t.co/Lv8UTJvhSs pic.twitter.com/tpedaF1PPW— Eric Bossi (@ebosshoops) June 15, 2019
It wouldn’t have been a surprise if Missouri sent out offers and expanded its list of 2021 targets. That didn’t happen.
What should we make of the silence? Not much.
The rationale isn’t radical, either. The Tigers rely on an inside-out approach to roster building, placing emphasis on players from the Show-Me State, especially St. Louis. At the same time, the Tigers will make a low-risk play by seeing whether an offer serves as a doorway to a potential relationship with recruit whose suitors are primarily blue bloods.
Like in late April, when MU offered Chet Holmgren and Kennedy Chandler. The odds are long the Tigers become a factor for either, but a scholarship offer doesn’t cost them much in the way of capital.
Class of 2021 | Missouri — Offers
|Jaden Hardy||6-4/185||CG||Henderson, NV||Coronado||Vegas Elite||5/2/18||5|
|Patrick Baldwin||6-8/190||Wing||Sussex, WI||Hamilton||PhenomU||8/8/18||1|
|Kennedy Chandler||6-1/160||PG||Memphis, TN||Briarcrest Christian||MoKan Elite||4/30/19||24|
|Chet Holmgren||6-11/190||Post||Minneapolis, MN||Minnehaha||Team Sizzle||4/30/19||31|
The more notable observation is the lack of offers to regional recruits. In the past three years, identifying targets hasn’t been an issue. This go-around, though, the pool seems smaller. On the east side of the state, Jordan Nesbitt, a wing at St. Louis Christian Academy, checks in at No. 69 in 247 Sports’ composite and suits up for Brad Beal Elite in Nike’s EYBL. To the southwest, in Springfield, wing Aminu Mohammed is a top-10 talent at Greenwood Laboratory School. And in Kansas City, Jaylon McDaniel is a borderline top-100 prospect.
However, Nesbitt and Mohammed each come with caveats.
Based on his age, Nesbitt, who has taken an unofficial visit to Columbia, should be a member of Class of 2020, but he reclassified after transferring from Lutheran North. And on the grassroots circuit, Nesbitt plays a reserve role, averaging 2.3 points and 3.0 rebounds nearly 10 minutes per game, backing up Fletcher.
As for Mohammed, the wing’s not an in-state recruit in the traditional sense. The wing and his guardian, Shawn Harmon, have more roots in the mid-Atlantic, following Mohammed’s older brother when he transferred to play at Missouri State. It explains why Mohammed runs with Boo Williams, which is based in Hampton, Va., on the EYBL circuit.
What’s been equally notable since 2018 isn’t the top end of the market, If anything, it’s been the depth of talent along the I-70 corridor — prospects like Jordan Lathon, Christian Bishop, Jericole Hellems Mario McKinney Jr., Terrence Hargrove Jr., Isiaih Mosley, Yuri Collins, Ochai Agbaji, Christian Braun, Luke Kasubke and Davion Bradford. What are the ramifications for MU’s recruiting model if that pipeline’s output ebbs?
The Tigers have already looked beyond their borders — if only slightly — by hosting Brian Mathews, a 6-foot-11 post from DePaul Prep in Chicago, for an unofficial visit on May 4. At the same time, Mann’s deep ties to Michigan and to The Family Detroit could prove useful if MU decided to home in on prospects like Pierre Brooks Jr., Jaden Akins and Kobe Bufkin. (Note: Per a report, MU did touch base with Brooks, a wing from Frederick Douglas High in Detroit.)
The role of an overhauled recruiting calendar also can’t be discounted. Taking recommendations of the College Basketball Commission’s to heart, the NCAA altered the setting in which coaches make their evaluations. This spring, staffs only had one weekend to venture out and watch prospects play on various shoe circuits. For the next the weekends, they’ll be gauging talent in camp settings, which puts more emphasis on drill work and feature games with makeshift rosters.
The last time Division I staffs could hit the road was in late April, followed by a six-week layoff. When they could head out again, it was only to watch the 100 players at the University of Virginia. In other words, opportunities to assess and prioritize 2021 talent have been limited.
When you couple all of the above with the fact Women’s Assistant Coach Willie Cox’s funeral services were yesterday, and Martin was celebrating his 24th wedding anniversary, it might make sense the Tigers staff delayed their early offers for a few days.
Happy 24th anniversary to my wonderful & brilliant wife, Roberta. I’m overjoyed for what God has in store for us ... pic.twitter.com/TTVu1RjRjw— Cuonzo Martin (@CuonzoMartin) June 14, 2019
There has been so much focus on the 2020 class it’s at times hard to look beyond it in determining where Mizzou might go. But if you look at the current Scholarship Count the 2021 class is a fairly important one.
The 2021 class will be backfilling the senior class for the 2020-21 season, and that’s a deep one. We don’t necessarily know if all five players — Alex Okongo, Dru Smith, Mark Smith, Mitchell Smith, and Jeremiah Tilmon — will be in black and gold that season. With roster turnover and pro aspirations it’s easy to see at least a couple of those names trickle out the door. Still, Martin and his staff will need to start prioritizing their recruits for this class in the coming months. When they do, we’ll be there.
Otherwise, have a Happy Father’s Day everyone!