Missouri continued its local recruiting momentum on Friday night as four-star Class of 2018 guard Torrence Watson pledged to the Tigers on Twitter.
The 6-foot-4 Watson was previously committed to Ohio State but he opted to open up his recruitment in late August. The native of St. Louis decided to stay in-state for his college commitment the second time around as he becomes the Tigers’ third commitment in the Class of 2018.
Watson joins three-star guard Javon Pickett and three-star junior college forward K.J. Santos as the Tigers have done a great job of stockpiling talent since the spring arrival of new head coach Cuonzo Martin.
A noted scorer, Watson averaged 29 points and seven rebounds per game as a junior at Whitfield High School.
Could we see a return of the Border War? Missouri athletic director Jim Sterk is certainly hoping so.
In an appearance at a golf outing in Kansas City on Monday, Sterk was asked about Missouri’s dormant rivalry with Kansas as the two schools haven’t played since the Tigers left for the SEC a little over five years ago.
“I’d like for that to happen,” Sterk said Monday. “I think they made it a point when we left the (Big 12) that they weren’t going to play anymore, but we’re certainly open to that and I know (new men’s basketball coach) Cuonzo (Martin) will work on that behind the scenes and see if that can happen.”
While Missouri has been open to renewing the Border War, Kansas officials have publicly refused to play Missouri. Sterk is hoping that a new head coach, Cuonzo Martin, might be able to help get the series going again.
Sterk’s comments means there is some reason to be optimistic about this rivalry having a revival but Kansas is still the driving force behind making the Border War happen again.
I’m hopeful the Border War can return. The final season of the Border War, the 2011-12 season, featured two high-level games between top-10 teams. Missouri has obviously taken a dip in national stature since then but both fanbases would probably like to see this happen again.
(H/t: Tod Palmer, Kansas City Star)
Missouri and new head coach Cuonzo Martin have landed the No. 1 player in the Class of 2017 a week after he took the job as forward Michael Porter Jr. committed to the Tigers on Friday.
Formerly a Washington commit under now-fired head coach Lorenzo Romar, the 6-foot-9 Porter was released from his Letter of Intent this week and many believed he’d end up back at Missouri.
The Porter family lived in Columbia for many years as two of Michael’s older sisters play for the Missouri women’s team while Michael Porter Sr. was an assistant coach for the women’s team.
When Porter Sr. was hired to Missouri to be an assistant coach on Martin’s staff this week — after losing his assistant coaching job at Washington when Romar was fired — it all but sealed the deal that the Porters would return to Missouri and Michael Jr. would play for the Tigers.
Missouri might not be an NCAA Tournament team next season after struggling to an 8-24 finish and 2-16 record in the SEC. But Porter might be the most productive freshman entering college basketball next season as he has a chance to be dominant in the SEC.
Things got heated right before halftime of the Georgia and Missouri game on Saturday.
With players from both teams holding onto a loose ball after the final shot of the half, some jawing and light pushing between players started before both sides were on the floor. Coaches from both sides seemed to steal the show from there in this one as they started getting in each other’s faces before being separated.
It’s hard to really call this is a “bench-clearing” incident since it was halftime and the teams were headed to the locker room, but from a surface level it seems like the coaches were the ones getting more involved than the players.
It doesn’t appear any punches were thrown. Not sure if any sort of suspensions will get handed down from this but some fines or other discipline might happen.
(H/t: Andrew Kauffman)
Missouri head coach Kim Anderson is facing a lot of pressure to win this season to save his job. The third-year coach responded to the critics by having some fun at the team’s Halloween and Hoops preseason scrimmage on Friday night.
Anderson was rolled out onto the floor in a casket and unveiled before the crowd, popping out and surprising fans and his own players with the stunt.
“Many other have buried us,” Anderson said to the crowd. “We hope to prove them wrong this year.”
Anderson has struggled mightily since taking over Missouri as the team is 19-44 and only 6-30 in the SEC in his two seasons at the helm. The Tigers have finished in dead last in the SEC the last two years with the team being picked to do the same this preseason.
For Anderson to take the floor in a casket shows a very unique sense of humor (especially in the world of sports), but he could also be remembered only for this stunt if he doesn’t turn things around this season.
With a roster full of sophomores and new players, the Tigers are going to have to prove they belong in the SEC very quickly so this stunt doesn’t come back to haunt Anderson’s tenure.
(H/t: Dave Matter, St. Louis-Post Dispatch)
Missouri just finished up an overseas trip to Italy where they went 3-1 before an important season for a young team that needs to win now. Head coach Kim Anderson is sitting on the hot seat entering this season and he needs a lot of the pieces he’s recruited the last few years to come through for him this season.
The Italy trip showed that this team will show some signs of life this season with a lot of talented underclass players stepping up. The question is how this translates to the upcoming 2016-17 season?
The sophomore backcourt of Terrence Phillips, Cullen VanLeer and K.J. Walton was solid with VanLeer leading the team by putting up 13.8 points per game while shooting 46 percent from three-point range. Phillips was all over the place on the trip as he averaged 11.8 points, 7.5 rebounds, 6.0 assists and 4.0 steals per game while Walton put up 8.0 points and 5.0 rebounds.
A pair of freshmen, Frankie Hughes (11.5 points per game) and Willie Jackson (11.3 points, 9.5 rebounds) also both averaged double-figures on the trip while the 6-foot-6 Jackson was a force on the glass.
Sometimes it’s hard to tell the type of competition some teams face during overseas trips, but the Tigers have to be thrilled that they had so many younger guys step up and also gain extra experience before an important season. Missouri still won’t have very high expectations entering the season but they’ll have a chance to be much tougher every game.
(H/t: Nate Latsch, Scout.com)