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How will Missouri fill their open roster spot with Mario McKinney’s transfer?

McKinney opens a hole the Tigers need to fill with a big need... somebody who can score.

NCAA Basketball: Butler at Missouri Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

I’m glad I left myself a little wiggle room in the annual “What we all want to see in 2020” post from a month ago:

What’s funny about this... I feel like I used to update this graphic every month. I haven’t updated this since September when Wilmore committed. The roster has held steady, even as playing time has fluctuated for guys at the back of the bench. I think there’s some credit due for Martin for steadying the situation.

Right now, the 2020 group is on pace to add just ONE newcomer. So with a low number of just four players in two cycles, that would be something we haven’t seen at Missouri in a long time.

There’s still a possibility of landing another player in the 2020 class, with Josh Christopher still available. And if Martin is still hunting for a wing, there are a few other options he could pursue. We’ll address additional recruits in due time. But keeping any potential roster loss to the expected (Nikko) plus maybe just one additional spot would prove nearly miraculous in today’s age of the transfer portal.

Mario McKinney, Jr officially entered the transfer portal on January 14th. He’s since landed at John A Logan Community College with plans to play there next year. While McKinney was thought to be an integral member of the 2019 recruiting class. He struggled to find consistent minutes, playing for 14 minutes in Mizzou’s season opening win, but then only playing for 45 minutes and seeing action in six of the team’s next 14 games before being suspended by head coach Cuonzo Martin. McKinney announced his transfer shortly thereafter.

So where does that leave the Missouri roster?

To the graphic!

mizzou basketball scholarship count 1-16-20

I have a hard time imagining a place where Mizzou stands pat. The roster needs some help, as evidenced by their inability to produce efficient offense. But it’s also not completely devoid of talent either; they just need to stay healthy.

So who do we KNOW they’ve been in contact with? Well, not many names are out there but there are a few. Namely these three:

  • Donovan Williams: A high 3-star or low 4-star wing from Nebraska, Williams was committed to the Huskers for a long time. But then with a coaching change in Lincoln, and Williams tearing his ACL in the spring, he recommitted to reassess where he was before some new teams jumped in. Missouri is obviously looking for a wing who can score the ball, and Williams can do that much. He’s also gotten interest from Texas, Kansas State, and Oklahoma State. Cuonzo Martin has been in to see him as recently as last Friday, though no official offer has been made.
  • Jermontae Hill: Hill is an athletic guard from Georgia who was not too long ago ranked inside the top 100 in 247’s composite, but has since fallen down to his current ranking int he mid 300s. Hill originally cut Missouri from his initial list but has since added them back as other teams have moved on. Hill is still a supreme athlete with a nice skill set, and as of December he noted Florida State and Missouri as two who were standing out, while Kansas State, Ole Miss, and St. Johns are in the picture as well.
  • Josh Christopher: I mean, he’s still a possibility. You know the story.

With Hill and Williams, the Tigers have two potential scoring wings, though Williams is a little more polished right now. It would seem ideal to bolster the weakest position for the Tigers right now which is a scoring wing. Missouri has a good point guard in Dru Smith, an improving backup point in Pinson, and they would appear to have the necessary interior players to get what they need. Plus if Tray Jackson and Kobe Brown can progress you’re set there.

The biggest need is scoring from the guard position. Namely a wing. In an ideal world you could insert someone like Christopher and slot him next to Smith and Smith. Dru is excellent in the pick and roll, and Mark is a floor spacer, but neither is a guy who is likely to break their defender down off the dribble. That is something Josh excels at.

Hill is a little more of a project but is fearless in getting to the rim. Williams, like I said, has a little more polish.

Obviously, there’s a lot more information to be collected, and a few possible grad transfer targets are likely to emerge later in the spring. We’ll keep an eye out but the opening with McKinney would fit much better with an underclassmen addition or a transfer. With Missouri having potentially five seniors next year, a sixth by way of grad transfer would leave a lot of holes to fill in the next year.

So I would think they’d keep it to a younger player if possible.