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Is the Matthew Cleveland picture becoming clearer?

The latest around the transfer portal might show some good signs for Missouri.

NCAA Basketball: Miami (FL) at Florida State Melina Myers-USA TODAY Sports

Well, this week felt a bit like a kick in the, um... pants. But bear with me because I think there is still some good news.

Last Sunday, Missouri’s top post target in the transfer portal, Kadin Shedrick, committed to Texas. Matt Harris already detailed the impact of Shedrick’s decision, so I won’t go into it much here. Then on Thursday, Western Kentucky transfer Jamarion Sharp committed to Ole Miss.

We’ve said in multiple spaces (podcasts, as well as the transfer tracker) that the Tigers and Sharp never seemed to really click. Last season it was presumed Sharp would end up at Missouri due to his relationship with Missouri assistant coach Kyle Smithpeters. But that never materialized. After entering the portal, Sharp took one visit then recommitted to Western Kentucky before he even made it to Mizzou. The courtship was long, but also incredibly brief.

Then about a month ago, Sharp re-entered the transfer portal while also putting his name in the NBA draft. When that happened, many immediately pegged Sharp to land in Columbia again.

A lot of the transfer portal and its happenings are fairly opaque. When it comes to visits, you rarely hear about them and the only visits we know about have been the three guards who committed (John Tonje, Tamar Bates and Caleb Grill), plus Matthew Cleveland and Kadin Shedrick. It’s possible, or probable, that others have been on campus and we just didn’t know it. But Sharp never made it to Columbia, and the reason is he was just never a priority target for Missouri. The Tigers made contact and kept tabs. But Sharp just never seemed to fit with what Mizzou wanted.

He’s big and he’s athletic but the skill level leaves a lot to be desired. And Gates seems to be looking for more skill level. So while a lot of fans and even some around here thought Sharp would be a fit... for whatever reason the staff never bought in. So as it is, there’s still a bit of a hole in the middle of the roster. Tomorrow, Matt will look at who is still available and who might be on Mizzou’s list. I’d keep an eye on Warren Washington, at least for now.

To the good news (?)

Matthew Cleveland completed his Auburn visit with no change to his timeline. Which might be good news for Missouri:

First off, I mentioned last week I believe Auburn was the team who lured Cleveland into the transfer portal, but that much was immaterial as to who helped get him in. Once he started taking visits, then the real race began, and we know how good his relationship with C.Y. Young is. So Missouri was going to be a factor as long as they wanted to be.

Auburn’s presence is probably the biggest threat to any marriage between Cleveland and Mizzou. And while there has been some conflicting reporting coming from Auburn, the one thing which has been clear is Lawrence is a priority for Bruce Pearl. Both Lawrence and Cleveland are wings... so you can deduce the rest here.

Auburn’s roster situation is an interesting one. They’ve added two transfers already in combo guard Denver Jones and D2 Alabama-Huntsville Wing transfer Chaney Johnson. They’ve lost Wendell Green to the professional ranks, and while Johni Broome has declared for the draft, he is expected back. But if Broome is back, the Tigers still have three open spots. Lior German, Dylan Cardwell, Chris Moore, K.D. Johnson, Jaylin Williams, Tre Donaldson, and incoming freshman Aden Holloway are all expected on the roster.

So there’s room to take multiple players here. But Pearl has been focused on Lawrence, Cleveland, and Texas Tech transfer Jaylon Tyson for one wing spot. Tyson looks destined for Cal at this point, but Kansas is also possible. If Lawrence is more of the focus over Cleveland, perhaps that pushes Cleveland to Missouri?

Again, this is the speculation part. Cleveland’s timeline hasn’t changed. But Auburn did try to close him on his visit, and that didn’t happen. Since it didn’t they pivoted quickly to Lawrence.

Obviously that leaves Miami. And while most seem to think this is a two horse race between Auburn and Missouri. I wouldn’t discount the ‘Canes. They have a big need with multiple departures to the draft. And the NIL money has been reported to be deep with John Ruiz. But Missouri has shown they’re competitive, and the relationship is still important.

Nothing should ever surprise you in recruiting. And things can always change quickly. But the trends look good for Matthew Cleveland.

Now about those big men?