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Mizzou Basketball recruiting and the possibility of finally breaking through

The on the court struggles reflect a program in need of a momentum change off the court.

NCAA Basketball: Missouri at Mississippi Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

Here we are. We’re at the end of a four-week long exploration of Missouri and basketball recruiting to end up here. I’ve linked below the previous articles if you aren’t caught up.

From exploring Mizzou’s history with recruiting, to exploring Cuonzo Martin’s history on top of that. Plus Mizzou’s success, or lack of it, with freshmen versus transfers.

With the past pretty well explored, now we turn our attention to the future. For two decades now Missouri has been thoroughly consistent in its inconsistency. We know the ups and downs, but do we know how they get out of it? It’s recruiting, right?

Much has been said already about the importance of the upcoming class, if for no other reason than the number of scheduled departures. And while there’s a possibility Mizzou signs five or six freshmen in this cycle, it’s far more likely they sign three or four, and fill in the rest of the class in the spring with transfers. So here’s the count:

mizzou basketball scholarship count 6-6-20

If Cuonzo Martin is going to break through with this program, the next two to three recruiting cycles are going to be the difference between him getting it done and not getting it done. The path forward isn’t a narrow one, but there are a few key players who have a chance to send the Tigers off in the right direction.

Who are the important targets?

I don’t think scoring as big with freshmen in the next class is as important to the long term success as maybe some do. With Anton Brookshire already committed, he projects as a very important piece to the guard rotation in 2021-22 and beyond. So with Brookshire you get a top line shooter, and a guy with some length who can defend at the point.

With so much experience leaving the roster, they will need to bring some spring supplements in other classes to keep the roster from going old to young in a hurry.

Tamar Bates - 2021, Guard

Why is he important: Bates is probably the only real big need for Mizzou left in this class. The rest of the guys they’re after would be nice additions — guys like Yaya Keita, Sean Durugordon (who decides Monday), Legend Geeter, or Blake Wesley — are all talented and can help. But nobody has the precise combination of ability and locality the others do. Bates projects as a long term impact guy, and the fact he’s Kansas City-based makes this all the more important.

Battling Kansas and Creighton, along with Oregon, Alabama, Iowa State, and Texas, isn’t going to be an easy feat. But Bates had sincere thoughts on his relationship with Missouri, and specifically Coach Martin in a recent interview with Rivals. Expert picks seem to think Kansas is in the driver’s seat, while Creighton has been in strong and for a long time... but if there’s a player in the class Martin and his staff need to reel in, it’s Bates.

At minimum, Mizzou will be replacing four scholarship players in 2022

This class is a deep one, so there might be a few less high profile players you can miss out on, but with Xavier Pinson, Torrence Watson, Javon Pickett, and Ed Chang all having their eligibility expiring, the wing position is going to be far more important than it is in 2021. So the most important guy in 2022 is...

Aidan Shaw, 2022, Wing

Shaw is a prototypical jumbo College wing. He’s got great size, plus athleticism, and is another KCK kid who has long been a target for the Tigers. Shaw is on the cusp of blowing up, and has received offers from programs around the country. But he’s the kind of player who can be a two to three year fixture on the wing. And even play some small ball power-forward.

There’s also Tarris Reed, another MoKan program forward with a high ceiling. Reed is a little more of a natural post with a developing skillset, but also one who is getting more and more interesting. We’ve seen the difficultly with Missouri recruiting the highly rated players out of St. Louis, which just rarely works out. Which is why I picked Shaw. Simply, he’s in more of a position of need.

But more than anything

Martin and his staff need to be adept at hunting the transfer market over the next two cycles.

In 2021, the remaining recruits left on the board are some solid options:

  • Sean Durugordon and Kaleb Brown should announce their intentions in the next few days
  • Michigan forward Legend Geeter prefers to stay in state at Michigan apparently, but he’s a solid option at the combo forward spot if Mizzou decides they need to fill the position.
  • Zach Hicks, a wing from New Jersey, is still in regular contact with Mizzou. He’s a bit more of a developmental wing, but with Watson, Pickett and Chang, the need for the position in the class is significantly less.
  • So the real test is if you can land Bates, then have a productive spring, it puts the program right back into solid footing for the next season or two.
  • The big unknown is the transfer market. As we detailed last week, Martin and his coaches need to find one or two impact transfers in the next class to offset the six seniors moving on after the year.

2022 is where you can move right back toward a big freshmen class

The class is deep, with probably somewhere between 8-12 players in the Missouri region alone who could end up at Mizzou. So keep an eye on: Braxton Stacker, Trey Pettigrew, Isaac Traudt, Braden Applehans, Jeremiah Talton, Jalen Quinn, Larry Hughes II, Jasen Green, Taj Manning, Mark Mitchell, Tarris Reed, and Aidan Shaw. And that’s just the start of it.

Last, I’ll just say... with COVID impacting everything... who knows what is going to happen with eligibility. Some of this discussion may be completely moot within a few months because the season could be delayed and eligibility restored for anyone who wants it. Who knows?

But the principles should be basically the same. Martin and his staff have a lot of work to do in the near future to solidify and improve the long term health of program.