Since Dennis Gates’ hiring, it’s been best to do any roster arithmetic in pencil and limit any forecast to the here and now. It wasn’t until late May that we could confidently say how many scholarship openings Missouri might have for the class of 2023. And even now, those calculations require wiggle room.
On paper, three players exit next spring. By summer, Gates’ staff filled two of those vacancies. First came point guard Anthony Robinson III, followed a couple of weeks later by wing Trent Pierce.
The last slot, though, had been a bit of a mystery over the past several months.
Would MU add another floor spacer like Parker Friedrichsen? Might they go for a brawnier and bouncier hybrid in Macaleab Rich? Or maybe they’d snap up a long, hyper-athletic combo guard in Kris Parker?
It turns out that the staff focused their attention on the frontcourt, prioritizing four-star post Jordan Butler. On Wednesday, those efforts paid off when Butler, a four-star prospect, committed to Mizzou, picking the Tigers over Auburn and South Carolina.
Breaking: 2023 four-star Jordan Butler has committed to Missouri, he tells @On3Recruits.— Joe Tipton (@TiptonEdits) October 5, 2022
"I just believe it's the best school for me to follow my dreams and get to the league."
Story: https://t.co/vgJMboTjEm pic.twitter.com/UNDAzypK6h
Ultimately, longevity might have tipped the scales in the Tigers’ favor. Assistant coach Charlton Young recruited Butler, a South Carolina native, native for more than two years, which followed recruiting and coaching the big man’s older brother at Florida State. To do it, the Tigers had to withstand a similarly rapid push by new Gamecocks coach Lamont Paris, who prioritized the 7-footer the moment he arrived from Chattanooga.
While there are still several weeks until signing day, Butler’s decision gives the Tigers a trio of four-star prospects and the No. 13 class nationally in 247 Sports’ composite. However, some slippage is probably inevitable as other programs wrap down their classes. Over the past decade, a class of MU’s quality has an average ranking of 30th nationally.
Still, it’s a trio that will likely rank among the program’s better efforts since moving to the SEC. Here’s what Butler brings to the table.
Let’s Meet Jordan Butler
- From: Greenville, S.C.
- High School: Christ Church Episcopal
- Position: Post
- Ht/Wt: 7-0 / 195
- Rivals Ranking: No. 102
- 247Composite Ranking: No. 119 (0.9417)
- Total announced offers: Nine
- Offers to note: Auburn, Florida State, South Carolina
At first glance, Butler’s frame will need some filling in, but he is young for his class and almost close to the cutoff for the Class of 2024. His shoulders, core, and base will start to fill out as he matures, and that’s on top of what strength staff will design for him in Columbia.
That build factors into how Butler plays, too.
While he can play with his back to the basket, he’s not a bruiser on the block. Instead, Butler’s more likely to reverse pivot, face up, and use a mix of deft footwork and ball skills to get where he wants. For example, on the left block, he’ll look to drive left, spin off a defender’s body and finish over his left shoulder. Cut him off, and he’ll counter with a drop-step baseline, seal, and finish.
But what makes Butler truly tantalizing is moving him away from the paint. Sure, he can space out and shoot off the catch, but he can also get his feet set flaring after setting a ball screen or a down screen. And if you put him in the left slot, Butler can put the ball down on the floor and attack a closeout. There’s a one-dribble pull-up in his bag, usually with a side-step dribble around the elbow. Meanwhile, his size and length allow him to finish over defenders stunting into a gap.
You must consider him a trail shooter at the top of the arc.
Defensively, he’s played the four and five in high school and on the grassroots circuit but projects more as a traditional post. He’s a natural rim protector and excels at rotating over as a low-help defender. But the more pressing question is how well he defends in space.
On film, Butler may play a bit too upright in his stance, and his first slide can be a bit delayed. Yet he knows how to keep a driver on his hip or contest shots from a trail position. Meanwhile, he’s comfortable working in drop coverage for ball screens.
It’s easy to see why Butler appeals to this staff. He’s a movable piece offensively, giving Gates latitude to invert the floor and — if the shooting translates — keep gaps open. Even better, Butler doesn’t require Gates to risk mismatches with a small-ball lineup.