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Mizzou basketball expands its 2021 offer list

After a relatively slow start, the recruiting board is starting to come together. And could there be a push into Michigan?

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The momentum for Mizzou basketball recruiting offers had stalled a bit with the 2021 class. As the recruiting calendar changed, it seemed to cause a lag in coach Cuonzo Martin and his coaching staff formally sending out scholarship offers.

Over the last few weeks, though, that ice thawed.

Until June, MU had only offered several top-10 talents — Jaden Hardy, Patrick Baldwin, Chet Holmgren — and fast-rising Kennedy Chandler. Once the staff was able to conduct more thorough evaluations, the pool began to expand.

Class of 2021 | Offers — June and July

Name Ht./Wt Position Hometown HS AAU Offered Rivals 247 ESPN
Name Ht./Wt Position Hometown HS AAU Offered Rivals 247 ESPN
Ahmad Bynum 6-1/175 CG Chicago, IL Simeon Mac Irvin Fire 6/25/19 89 88 NR
Bryce Hopkins 6-7/220 CF Oak Park, IL Fenwick MoKan Elite 6/26/19 NR 95 NR
Kaleb Brown 6-5/NA CG Huntsville, AL Lee EAB Tennessee 7/15/19 NR NR NR
Malaki Branham 6-5/175 CG Columbus, OH St. Vincent-St. Mary's Tru Game 7/19/19 66 22 39
Pierre Brooks Jr. 6-5/209 Wing Detroit, MI Douglass The Family 7/22/19 NR 97 NR

After a glacial pace early on this cycle, the program’s almost doubled the number of prospects on the board in the past two weeks. Two of them formally entered the mix Tuesday night — one new name and another that should sound familiar.

Obviously, Martin has history Game Elite. It would certainly be nice to have an in with a non-local program, especially one that produced Jaylen Brown, among others.

There isn’t much available video on Kaleb Washington just yet, but he’s got great size and length on the wing already. He attends Pebblebrook High School in the Atlanta area, a school that has produced recent SEC players like Collin Sexton, Jared Harper, and Derek Ogbeide. And while Washington hasn’t yet exploded on the national scene the early offer from Missouri could hold a lasting impression.

His other offers currently are Georgia, Georgia Tech, South Alabama, UAB, Clemson and Xavier... and now Missouri.

Missouri also offered Michigan guard Jaden Akins. Akins was on campus for an unofficial visit after the Nike Elite 100 camp in St. Louis in late June, and we spent some time after talking about him and Pierre Brooks after their visit.

While Akins and Brooks, who are teammates on The Family’s 16U roster, have garnered interest from Big Ten programs such as Purdue, MU is the first high-major suitor to extend each an offer. And given assistant coach Cornell Mann’s long-standing ties to the program — his son, Maliq Carr, plays for the Detroit-based squad — it’s not entirely a surprise.

Another question is inevitable: How heavily will Michigan or Michigan State be involved? Late last week, we reached out to a source in Michigan to get an early gauge. While Michigan State is involved with Brooks and Akins, we were told, the Spartans haven’t launched a full-court press for either guard.

During the Elite 100 camp, Akins showcased quick-twitch athleticism and the ability to get to spots off one or two dribbles. The action in St. Louis was glorified pick-up, but Akins showed a knack for finding precise passing angles on entry plays and sound decision-making as a distributor.

Akins is also comfortable playing off the ball, which is the case when he suits up for The Family. On tape, you can see he can into his shot off movement, such as a pindown, but also on catch-and-shoot opportunities when spaced to the wing. You can critique his mechanics — his shot pocket is a little low, and he occasionally loops into his release — but those kinks are certainly correctable.

Finally, there’s a noticeable trend so far: no Missouri prospects are currently on the board. We can also offer a pretty reasonable explanation, too. The region’s flow of talent has ebbed.

Since 2016, the state produced 17 players slotted in the top 150 of 247’s composite index, including seven top-50 prospects. In that same span, the Metro East supplemented that count with players such as E.J. Liddell, Jeremiah Tilmon, Jordan Goodwin and Mark Smith.

Over the past five recruiting cycles, MU has had an average of four top-150 players within a two-hour radius of Columbia. Toss in a handful of prospects over the state line in the Kansas City metro area, and it grows to five.

Right now, there are just two top-150 talents in Aminu Mohammed (No. 15) of Greenwood Laboratory School and Jordan Nesbitt (No. 93) from St. Louis Christian Academy. While Mohammed is in Springfield, the wing and his guardian trace their roots back to the Atlantic seaboard. Case in point: Mohammed ran with Boo Williams, which is based in the Tidewater region of Virginia, during EYBL play. As for Nesbitt, he joined Brad Beal Elite as a reserve behind Cam’Ron Fletcher. While MU has reportedly touched base with both guards, the program hasn’t pulled the trigger on offers.

The recruiting grounds surrounding Columbia go in cycles, and it’ll be fascinating how Martin and his assistants adapt. Quietly, MU has dipped its toe in Chicago and Cleveland, surviving the cut for 2020 prospects Adam Miller and post John Hugley, respectively.

Yet Michigan, where Mann is widely respected, is a state we’re keeping an eye on. The Tigers have already extracted freshman Tray Jackson, but have been involved to varying degrees with prospects such as Rocket Watts, Harlond Beverly, Isaiah Jackson, Jalen Terry, Myron Gardner and Scooby Johnson. Now Akins and Brooks appear to be next in line, and there are are still prospects such as Julian Roper and Kobe Bufkin to consider.