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Mizzou’s Post-Norm Stewart recruiting pool is wide with varied results

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Landing elite talent doesn’t always work out for the Tigers.

Vanderbilt v Missouri Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Last week we took a deeper look at Missouri recruiting in comparison to Cuonzo Martin’s recruiting over the course of his coaching career (at least at the high major level). I thought with the absence of news over the course of the last few months it might be a good time to reflect a bit on the program and coach.

I also wanted to use this time to talk about a few things some people may or may not know about recruiting. But they can be summed up as such:

  1. An offer doesn’t equal an active recruitment
  2. The ‘board’ is often FAR larger than we ever know about
  3. We try to provide analysis based upon what we know, which isn’t the full picture

We have a good idea of how Missouri has recruited historically, but I wanted to go a little deeper and find out how much production they’ve gotten for their efforts. So I went all the way back to the recruiting class of 1998, which included Keyon Dooling and Clarence Gilbert, because it was the earliest provided class where there was a top 100. But because we don’t have in-depth rankings like we do now, we don’t really know what the rest of the class would have provided: Kenge Stevenson, Matt Rowan, Pat Schumacher.

Or the 1999 class put together by Quin Snyder, which included the elitely talented Kareem Rush, along with Josh Kroenke. We don’t get more in-depth rankings on classes until 2003. Because of this, there are some stats which might skew early, but I wanted to include as much of Quin’s recruiting as possible. RSCI’s rankings is far from perfect (as you’ll see), but it’s useful for this exercise.

Before we proceed, here’s every freshman recruit signed by Missouri since 1998:

Missouri Freshman Recruiting Since 1998

Year Signed Player 247 Ranking 247 Rating Z-score Ranking Z-score Rating
Year Signed Player 247 Ranking 247 Rating Z-score Ranking Z-score Rating
2017 Michael Porter Jr. 2 0.9998 -1.30 0.79
2003 Linas Kleiza 14 0.9944 -1.20 0.75
2010 Tony Mitchell 16 0.9937 -1.18 0.74
1998 Keyon Dooling 19 -1.15
2000 Travon Bryant 21 -1.14 -6.88
2017 Jontay Porter 25 0.991 -1.10 0.72
2000 Rickey Paulding 32 -1.04 -6.88
1999 Kareem Rush 34 -1.02
2014 Montaque Gill-Caesar 35 0.9856 -1.02 0.68
2002 Jimmy McKinney 35 -1.02 -6.88
2003 Thomas Gardner 37 0.9849 -1.00 0.68
2017 Jeremiah Tilmon 43 0.9845 -0.95 0.67
2000 Arthur Johnson 43 -0.95 -6.88
2013 Johnathan Williams 44 0.9835 -0.94 0.67
2004 Marshall Brown 46 0.9811 -0.92 0.65
2010 Phil Pressey 49 0.9802 -0.90 0.64
2004 Jason Horton 50 0.9783 -0.89 0.63
2014 Jakeenan Gant 53 0.9795 -0.86 0.63
2004 Kalen Grimes 56 0.9755 -0.84 0.60
2001 Najeeb Echols 58 -0.82 -6.88
1998 Clarence Gilbert 62 -0.79
2001 Duane John 67 -0.74 -6.88
2014 Namon Wright 71 0.9709 -0.71 0.57
2000 Wesley Stokes 72 -0.70 -6.88
2013 Wesley Clark 75 0.9689 -0.67 0.55
2005 Leo Lyons 83 0.9651 -0.61 0.52
2019 Tray Jackson 85 0.9673 -0.59 0.54
2004 Glen Dandridge 86 0.9655 -0.58 0.53
2002 Kevin Young 93 -0.52 -6.88
2006 Keon Lawrence 101 0.9598 -0.45 0.48
2018 Torrence Watson 112 0.9498 -0.36 0.41
2008 Marcus Denmon 119 0.9402 -0.30 0.33
2017 Blake Harris 121 0.9266 -0.28 0.23
2008 Kim English 127 0.9279 -0.23 0.24
2015 K.J. Walton 131 0.9197 -0.20 0.18
2008 Steve Moore 137 0.9108 -0.14 0.11
2006 J.T. Tiller 143 0.8896 -0.09 -0.05
2013 Torren Jones 146 0.8979 -0.07 0.01
2021 Anton Brookshire 148 0.9162 -0.05 0.15
2009 Michael Dixon 149 0.9076 -0.04 0.08
2008 Miguel Paul 156 0.8897 0.02 -0.05
2014 D'Angelo Allen 158 0.894 0.04 -0.02
2015 Terrence Phillips 165 0.8951 0.09 -0.01
2019 Mario McKinney 166 0.9185 0.10 0.17
2017 C.J. Roberts 172 0.8979 0.15 0.01
2010 Kadeem Green 200 0.8775 0.39 -0.15
2008 Laurence Bowers 200 0.8701 0.39 -0.20
2012 Ryan Rosburg 202 0.875 0.41 -0.17
2012 Stefan Jankovic 204 0.8745 0.43 -0.17
2016 Frankie Hughes 204 0.8709 0.43 -0.20
2010 Ricky Kreklow 209 0.8775 0.47 -0.15
2016 Mitchell Smith 212 0.8687 0.50 -0.22
2013 Shane Rector 216 0.8583 0.53 -0.30
2016 Willie Jackson 228 0.8651 0.63 -0.24
2018 Xavier PInson 248 0.8814 0.80 -0.12
2019 Kobe Brown 251 0.8806 0.83 -0.12
2012 Dominique Bull 259 0.8444 0.90 -0.40
2003 Spencer Laurie 264 0.8444 0.94 -0.40
2014 Tramaine Isabell 274 0.8385 1.03 -0.45
2016 Reed Nikko 281 0.8469 1.09 -0.38
2018 Javon Pickett 292 0.8616 1.18 -0.27
2009 Keith Dewitt 302 0.8667 1.27 -0.23
2007 Justin Safford 310 0.8556 1.33 -0.32
2015 Cullen VanLeer 313 0.836 1.36 -0.47
2009 Jonathan Underwood 338 0.8556 1.57 -0.32
2018 Christian Guess 343 0.8678 1.62 -0.22
2015 Kevin Puryear 387 0.8193 1.99 -0.59
2020 Jordan WImore 429 0.8422 2.35 -0.42
2009 Tyler Stone 439 0.8397 2.44 -0.44
2016 Jakoby Kemp 510 0 3.04 -6.88
1998 Kenge Stevenson
1998 Matt Rowan
1998 Pat Schumacher
1999 Josh Kroenke
2001 Jeffrey Ferguson

The median ranking is 134, and median rating (per 247sports) is 0.8979. Because we have ratings and rankings for Jordan Wilmore and Anton Brookshire (committed but not signed), I opted to keep them on the board to get an idea of where the median recruit would be with the totality. Brookshire is fairly close to the median, while Wilmore butts up against the bottom of the variance.

Here’s where I’ll also point out that after adding in the recruits from 1998 to 2002, RSCI may not be the most reliable source for recruiting rankings. They were the only game in town for a while, but Najeeb Echols was a top 60 recruit whose career took a bit of a nose dive after a knee injury his senior year. Echols finished his college career as a role player at Illinois State, but current rankings systems probably would have dropped him after a serious knee injury.

Recently we’ve been living in a much more nuanced and attentive approach to recruiting by the various services.

Since Norm Stewart... uh, Retired...

Mizzou has employed five different basketball coaches. Let’s see how they fared overall:

Freshmen Classes by Coach

Coach Quin Snyder Mike Anderson Frank Haith Kim Anderson Cuonzo Martin Total
Coach Quin Snyder Mike Anderson Frank Haith Kim Anderson Cuonzo Martin Total
Years Active 1999-2006 2006-2011 2011-2014 2014-2017 2017-current 1999-current
Total Freshmen Signed 20 15 10 12 11 68
Total Years Played 62 37 19 27 17 162
AVG Yrs Played 3.10 2.47 1.90 2.25 1.55 2.38
AVG Ranking 66.22 192.93 130.5 259.36 153.45 149.78
MEDIAN Ranking 53 156 110.5 228 121 129
AVG Games Played 89.6 75.07 49.1 73.58 34.73 66.22
MEDIAN Games Played 90 99 37.5 67.5 30 62.5
AVG Pts Scored 704.6 585.47 271.1 333.42 251.18 504.87
MEDIAN Pts Scored 591 231 169.5 271 174 374.5

I left the names out so we could just look at the data overall.

This is a pretty incredible stat— Quin Snyder had seven recruiting classes and signed just four players who were not top 100 recruits: Josh Kroenke, Jeffrey Ferguson, Spencer Laurie, and Keon Lawrence. Two of those were helpful additions by being the offspring of well-heeled alumni/boosters (and admittedly, Kroenke was a very solid High Major player), while Ferguson was a very good reserve big, and Lawrence was ranked 101st. Sheesh.

But it’s easy to see why Quin was able to find some success, even if it wasn’t always consistent. He had talent! And not only talent, but he was able to get guys who stuck around. The median recruit was a top 60 player, but the median points scored was only 591 over 90 games, or 6.5 per contest.

  • The most Quin recruit: Kalen Grimes — a top 60 recruit who was big and talented, but ultimately let poor decision-making in his personal life lead to his dismissal from the team.
  • The best Quin recruit: Kareem Rush — nearly 19 points per game over three years, and a solid and productive NBA career.
  • The worst Quin recruit: Spencer Laurie — two forgettable years on the bench before transferring for more minutes at Missouri State.

When Quin was fired by the team’s radio color guy, Mike Alden was feeling the heat and actually made a great hire. He nabbed Mike Anderson, who brought a very different recruiting philosophy with him. While Quin was recruiting and signing more elite talent, Anderson was going after more workhorse-type guys.

As the Missouri head coach, Anderson signed just two top 100 players in Phil Pressey and Tony Mitchell. We know Mitchell never made it to campus due to some eligibility issues, and Pressey was the son of Anderson’s college teammate, so it was a natural fit. Anderson rarely secured elite talent, but parlayed a few Snyder holdovers and his own mid-level recruits into a perennial tournament team. So developmental roster building can work, but it helps to start them with some experience on the floor with them like Leo Lyons and J.T. Tiller, not to mention DeMarre Carroll.

  • The most CMA recruit: J.T. Tiller — a borderline top 150 player who wanted to guard and dive on the floor and help build the culture.
  • The best CMA recruit: Marcus Denmon — not the highest rated, but a guy who was a top 150 player who turned into an All American.
  • The worst CMA recruit: Tyler Stone — there were several duds, but Stone was a recruit who was added late and quickly vanished from the roster.

Frank Haith then stepped in, and knew his leash was short thanks to recent NCAA allegations and a skeptical fan reaction. He was able to build his roster through transfers to keep the wins coming, and then skipped out for a longer contract at Tulsa. Haith came in shooting higher than Mike Anderson, which likely got the fans excited, but his tenure was met with minimal success.

  • The most Haith recruit: Stefan Jankovic — a talented forward who was probably under-ranked due to his skill level, but left Mizzou and found success at a lower level.
  • The best Haith recruit: Johnathan Williams III — J3 was a great kid and top 50 recruit who was asked to do too much as a sophomore, but was a very good player on a Final Four team at Gonzaga.
  • The worst Haith recruit: Dominique Bull — it was pretty evident early that Bull wasn’t a high-major guard. It shouldn’t be weird that all three of these guys transferred. In fact, only one Haith’s freshman signees lasted all four years: Ryan Rosburg.

Look, the Kim Anderson era was a disaster and the numbers bear that out. If you extract the Haith commitments from his initial class, the average recruit was 259 in the country. Anderson and his staff struggled to get talent, and had just 4 players inside the top 200, and none of those guys had the impact expected.

  • The most KA recruit: Reed Nikko — great kid, hard worker, not highly ranked and a guy who wasn’t good enough to be a difference maker. But he played hard, and lasted all four years.
  • The best KA recruit: Kevin Puryear — this could easily be a higher ranked guy, but Puryear was a productive four year college player who overcame a few physical limitations and had a penchant for making big shots.
  • The worst KA recruit: Jakoby Kemp — a late addition who is barely a role player at IUPUI, Kemp was sold as a highly skilled forward but needed a redshirt year on a team that won 10 games.

Cuonzo Martin arrived on campus as somewhat of a more known quantity than we were maybe willing to acknowledge. He was mostly fine in six years at Tennessee and Cal, and his recruiting was just okay at each stop, with a few highlights in the form of Jaylen Brown and Jarnell Stokes. The book isn’t closed on Martin, so some of these numbers are a little unfair. He’s got several 1st, 2nd, and 3rd year guys coming back this season, so all of his numbers are going to improve with just another season under his belt. But after the 2017 class, the recruiting has largely lagged behind fan expectations.

  • The most Zo recruit: Torrence Watson — another great kid, a highly rated recruit who has so far been disappointing in his production. But there’s still hope.
  • The best Zo recruit: Jontay Porter — Mizzou actually got production from an elite recruit in what should have been his senior year in HS.
  • The worst Zo recruit: Christian Guess — Martin took a flyer on Guess and it lasted 1 game and no points. I still think Guess has potential, but there’s no denying it made no sense for Guess to spend a semester at Mizzou.

Overall

We’re a little back to where we started. Mizzou recruiting has fluctuated and typically fluctuates with the philosophy of the coach. Cuonzo and CMA are more on the developmental side, whereas Quin and Haith were more about acquiring talent.

Snyder had success, but in fits and starts. Anderson built more of a program, but flatlined a bit with his recruiting, and Haith piggybacked on what Anderson had built and nearly got it going but failed to land the recruits. KA set it all back and now Martin’s approach hasn’t done enough.

Leaving out players who have transferred into the program leaves out quite a few high impact athletes. We’ve seen the hit and miss style of recruiting freshmen into the program. So I think next week we’ll look at Mizzou’s success — or lack of success, depending on the player — with non-freshman signees, and how it compares to players who enter the program out of high school.