Missouri received its first verbal commitment in the Class of 2016 Saturday afternoon, as 6-foot-10 center Mitchell Smith has decided to play for Kim Anderson. Smith, a native of Arkansas, made the decision while on an official visit to Missouri and announced the news by way of his Twitter account.
Missouri will lose senior Ryan Rosburg at the end of the 2015-16 season, and the addition of Smith will help the Tigers account for that loss. Among the other programs considered by Smith Arkansas, Creighton, Memphis and Wichita State.
Smith, who was a first team All-Class 7A selection last season, played for the Arkansas Wings Elite grassroots program this spring/summer on the Nike EYBL circuit. He will join a front court that includes current underclassmen Jakeenan Gant, D’Angelo Allen and Kevin Puryear, and junior college transfer Russell Woods.
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Having already lost its leading scorer and rebounder from last season in Johnathan Wililams III to a transfer, Missouri will bid farewell to another player.
Sources told NBCSports.com that guard Montaque Gill-Caesar, who would have been a sophomore this upcoming season, has decided to leave Kim Anderson’s program. Gill-Caesar, who played for Missouri assistant Rob Fulford at Huntington Prep before making the move to Columbia, averaged 9.1 points and 3.9 rebounds per game as a freshman.
“We wish Montaque the best,” Anderson said in a release Wednesday afternoon. “In an evolving conversation this week, Montaque informed our program of his future plans. He intends to resume his education and playing career at a different institution.
“We will assist him in every way possible in that transition, pending the completion of academic obligations he committed to with our staff. Our program cannot thank Montaque and his family enough for being a part of the Mizzou Basketball Family.”
The 6-foot-6 Ontario native’s departure means that there will be minutes available at the shooting guard position. Fellow sophomore Namon Wright returns at the position, and the Tigers also have two shooting guards in their incoming freshman class in K.J. Walton and Cullen VanLeer.
With Gill-Caesar and Williams transferring and guard Keith Shamburger out of eligibility, Missouri will have to account for the loss of three of their top four scorers from last season’s nine-win team.
News of Gill-Caesar’s transfer was first reported by ESPN.com.
The Missouri basketball program picked up a late 2015 recruit on Friday night, as four-star shooting guard K.J. Walton committed to the Tigers. He was visiting the Mizzou campus this weekend.
Evan Daniels of Scout.com first reported the commitment. Jeff Borzello of ESPN also had the news.
Walton, the 6-foot-3 guard out of Brownsburg High (Indiana) is ranked No. 103 in the Rivals150. He joins a handful three-star commits in Missouri’s incoming class: point guard Terrence Phillips, shooting guards Cullen VanLeer and Martavian Payne and power forwards, Kevin Puryear and Russell Woods. Payne and Woods, both JUCO transfers, committed to Mizzou earlier this spring.
Walton takes the last scholarship Kim Anderson had for the 2015-16 season.