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Mizzou Basketball and Recruiting in the new look SEC

As Texas and Oklahoma are set to join the league, how will Dennis Gates stack up against a deeper league?

There’s been a lot of words written about Mizzou Hoops recruiting over the years.

After years of starting lists with highly rated players only to be whittled down by plan B or plan C, is Dennis Gates the right guy to finally break through?

Last summer we talked about how Aidan Shaw was Cuonzo Martin finally breaking through. Once the class of 2017 was dusted off, and Michael Porter Jr. and his back left for the NBA, Martin had trouble landing his top targets. Whether it was Courtney Ramey, E.J. Liddell, or Caleb Love, Martin had fallen into what seemed like an unbreakable theme for Mizzou.

You can chase the top guys, but you better have a good backup plan for when they go elsewhere.

247sports has become our go-to for recruiting rankings because of the composite tool. They take all available recruiting rankings and build out rankings which compile them all. Their rankings go back to 1999, but are a little more complete since the mid 2000s. Since then Mizzou has landed a top 25 recruit just 4 times. 3 of those players made it to campus, and two of them played full seasons. Jontay Porter and Linas Kleiza.

Obviously blue chip talent helps win games, the more top 25 and top 100 level players you have on your roster the better off you’ll be. So I went through the top ranked players for each team in the SEC (plus the soon-to-be SEC brethren Texas and Oklahoma) to see where everyone stacked up.

My takeaway, Kentucky is nuts.

They’re aided by Cal’s recruiting strategy of just landing and running out blue chip freshmen each and every year. But still, holy smokes.

  • Kentucky — 58 (84)
  • Texas — 17 (49)
  • LSU — 12 (33)
  • Florida — 11 (43)
  • Tennessee — 9 (26)
  • Alabama — 7 (36)
  • Arkansas — 7 (28)
  • Mississippi State — 5 (22)
  • Oklahoma — 4 (21)
  • Missouri — 4 (20)
  • Auburn — 4 (19)
  • Vanderbilt — 3 (16)
  • Georgia — 3 (15)
  • South Carolina — 2 (11)
  • Texas A&M — 1 (23)
  • Ole Miss — 0 (7)

Oklahoma has benefitted from outstanding coaching under Lon Krueger since Trae Young was the only top 25 recruit to sign under Lon. But I think most people assumed the Texas Football brand was the attraction of adding the Longhorns to the Conference. Turns out the basketball brand might be just as valuable.

Texas A&M has signed only one top 25 player, but their luck with the top 100 has been far better and would have had them in the top half of the league if that was the ranking metric.

But you can see where MIzzou has been, slightly below the median, and around the bottom of the league. Bruce Pearl and Auburn is about to lap the Tigers on his own. All four of their top 25 players, and 14 of the 19 top 100 players, have been signed under Bruce Pearl.

Auburn is trending up, and so is Tennessee. And Arkansas, they have three top 25 players signed for this upcoming year. Plus South Carolina just landed G.G. Jackson, the top overall player in the 2023 class, who reclassified to the 2022 class and is going to play next year. Schools throughout the league are trying to level up.

So where does that leave Missouri?

Dennis Gates has been working, and recruiting is trending well. They’re currently the 2nd rated class in the league. I’ve said before, and I’ll say it again, basketball class rankings matter WAY less than in football. In hoops, signing more players helps you in the rankings, but signing quality players helps you on the floor.

After Kentucky’s three top 25 commitments, seven SEC teams have at least one 4-star commitment. None have a second commitment, except for Missouri. Arkansas is right behind Mizzou with the 26th ranked Layden Blocker, then Auburn with the 30th ranked Aden Holloway. So it’s important for Mizzou to finish the season strong. But the early returns look promising.

Current commitments:

With a projected point guard and a wing forward already on board, a combo guard and a post would make the most sense to finish out the class.

Names we’re watching for the rest of 2023

  • Kris Parker — Ranked #61st, Parker is a long and rangy combo guard prospect who should be announcing a top schools list shortly, and it would be expected for Mizzou to be on the list and receive a visit shortly after.
  • Jordan Butler — the #55 ranked prospect in’s composite. He’s a skilled 7’0 center who has Mizzou, Florida State, Auburn and South Carolina on his list.
  • Macaleab Rich — Rich is a strong and athletic but currently unranked prospect out of East St. Louis. He released a top 7 of Mizzou, Kansas State, Ole Miss, VCU, SLU, UIC, and Eastern Michigan.
  • Jazz Gardner — The #79 ranked center prospect released a top 8 schools which included MIzzou, Dayton, USC, Kansas, St. Mary’s, USCB, Texas Tech, and Pepperdine.
  • Jordan Burks — Thought to be an Ole Miss lean, the #203 ranked prospect is very Florida State-y. He’s very long and athletic, but a bit of a work in progress on offense. His top schools are Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Texas Tech, The G League Ignite, and Eastern Michigan.
  • Justin McBride — Perhaps this is a bit overly inclusionary, but McBride was thought to be a heavy Mizzou lean with the previous staff. He was a former top 100 prospect who’s fallen to the 150th spot, but he shed some weight and had a breakout at Peach Jam. So it’s worth watching.

Names we’re watching for 2024

This list could change since it’s early, but it does look like early on the priorities are Jones, Brown, and Allen. With 30-someodd offers out the list could easily shift, but Matt had a solid run down last week.

Finishing the 2023 class strong would be a boon. Robinson and Pierce are a good start. Mizzou would like to finish with a duo of Parker and either Butler or Gardner. That would likely end up a top 4 or 5 class in the league and would certainly set the tone for the level of recruiting you can expect from Gates and Young. And I don’t mean that to talk down on Kyle Smithpeters or Dickey Nutt, but there’s a reason Mizzou paid Young what they did. It’s to get dudes. Anything the other two bring the table is great.

While there aren’t very many top 25 players we’re watching too closely in the next two classes, there are certainly a LOT in the range of 25-100, and on the high end of that. So the question comes before us again, is this who breaks through in recruiting?