Key Departures: Dru Smith (Grad); Xavier Pinson (–>LSU); Jeremiah Tilmon (Grad); Mark Smith (–>Kansas St); Mitchell Smith (Grad); Parker Braun (–>Santa Clara); Torrence Watson (–>Elon)
New In Town: DaJuan Gordon (<–Kansas St); Ronnie DeGray (<–UMass); Jarron Coleman (<–Ball St); Amari Davis (<–Green Bay) Anton Brookshire (#163); Trevon Brazile (#182); Yaya Keita (#202); Sean Durugordon (#233); Kaleb Brown (#328)
State of the Program:
For those waiting on Cuonzo Martin to bring a resurgence to this program it has been a frustrating 4 years, and with a mass exodus out of the program things are not looking great once again. Martin has 13 seasons under his belt as a HC, with 4 tournament appearances and only one trip beyond the 1st round game. The seat is getting toasty entering his 5th run with Mizzou, as he has not had postseason success and has not brought stability to the program either, as evidenced by only 3 guys returning to the program. The returning group is comprised of starting F Kobe Brown (JR) and role players G Javon Pickett (SR) and 7-footer Jordan Wilmore (SO). The rest of the entire roster will be new to the program, including 5 Freshman and 4 transfers, making this situation on of the more chaotic in the Country. The 4 leading scorers are gone and it feels like a complete restart and rebuild but with the same coaching staff, a very unique situation. Given the turmoil expectations are pretty low, but regardless Cuonzo has always at least been able to churn out competitive teams and avoid the cellar.
Basically the entire team is new but leading this massive incoming group is Kansas St transfer G DaJuan Gordon (JR). Gordon started 33 games over 2 seasons with K-State and is most effective when attacking the rim and in transition, as his jump shot has not found any consistency. He should come in and compete for a starting backcourt gig with Pickett and the other transfers. One of those other G’s competing with those 2 is 2x All-Horizon selection out of Green Bay Amari Davis (JR). The southpaw is a jittery guard who also excels when attacking downhill, and also in the mid-range game. Like Gordon he has yet to establish a consistent jumper from outside but he filled it up his first 2 years despite that, so his scoring ability may give him a leg up in terms of playing time. G Jarron Coleman (JR) comes in from Ball St as the 3rd and final G to enter the program via transfer after putting up 13/5/3 for the Cardinals a year ago. He’s a different animal than the other 2, as he shot nearly 43% from deep and will be crucial for the Tigers as they struggled with perimeter shooting a season ago and lost the best of the group. I think he gets the start purely due to his ability to space the floor and knock down perimeter shots. The last of the transfers is UMass F Ronnie DeGray (SO) who will come in and provide depth at the 4 behind Kobe Brown. DeGray is a talented stretch 4 that should grow into a starting role in the future, as he showed flashes of high major ability a season ago, both as a shooter and as a rebounder. It may take some time but he could really blossom if his drive to do so is there. The leader of the FR group is G Anton Brookshire (#163), who comes to campus as a quick G that is a capable scorer and passer but is just a little undersized at 6’0” and thin without much explosiveness. He will need to develop his jumper to be more consistent and beef up a bit but has potential long term as a scorer. Next up is 6’7” wing Trevon Brazile (#182) whose upside as an athlete jumps off the page. He is able to affect the game defensively and finish above the rim at this stage, but he will need to just develop his offensive skillset and fill out his wiry frame and he could become a solid player for Martin. The last FR who likely has a chance to crack the rotation is 6’9” C Yaya Keita (#202), as the Tigers will be severely lacking depth up front. Keita is not an explosive athlete but is long and can be an effective defender and finishes well inside. He has potential to develop into a productive frontcourt piece, and even has flashed a jumper that could buoy him as a stretch big. He will battle with 7-footer Wilmore for time inside at the 5.
Martin has a really tough task ahead of him with so much turnover and the loss of his 4 leading scorers. He will have to find scoring and production from a hodge-podge of transfers and Freshman who come in unheralded in comparison to many of their Conference opponents. The good news is if he can get some cohesion and keep these guys around the roster should be back in 2022-23 for a much better showing. for this year they’ll need Brown and Pickett to step into leadership roles and help guide the ship and fill the production holes. Gordon, Davis and Coleman should all impact the offense but the lack of shooting will be glaring and likely cause the Tigers to be one of the worst offensive teams in the SEC. Combine that with the lack of size and it’s hard to see a path where Mizzou is able to win more than just a couple Conference games. It’s not quite to the point where Martin is coaching for his job, but this group’s development may be key to him holding onto the job over the next couple of seasons.