Johnathan Williams III has made if official: he will be transferring out of Missouri, along with Deuce Bello. Both players are former top 50 recruits, and Williams was actually the leading scorer and rebounder for Missouri last season.
But the reasons they are leaving actually make some sense. Williams was recruited by Frank Haith and Tim Fuller, and neither of them are still with the program. Williams stuck it out for one season under new head coach Kim Anderson, but Fuller decided he would be ending his time in Columbia and Williams eventually followed suit.
Anderson has released this list of schools that Williams is banned from transferring to, and it is extensive: the SEC, the Big 12, Illinois and Arizona, according to reports.
The SEC I get. Missouri is in the SEC, and as a coach, you don’t want a guy transferring out of your program and directly into the program of a team that you’re competing against. Well, maybe “competing” is a better way to phrase it after what happened this season, when the Tigers went 3-15 in the league.
But to restrict the entire Big 12, which, I’m assuming, is due to the Big 12/SEC challenge, seems petty and spiteful. And to block Arizona, who Missouri plays in 2016-17, and Illinois, who is their Border War opponent, feels unnecessary.
I’m entirely against the ability of a coach to restrict where a player transfers — if these kids are truly “student”-athletes, than no one involved with the sports teams should be able to determine when and where they go to school — but I’ve made that point over and over again in this space.
Instead, I want to focus on Anderson, who has so many more problems on his plate beyond where one kid wants to transfer. Let’s start with the fact that a team that was awful last season is, as of now, losing their leading scorer and rebound, their best recruiter and a wing off the bench. And that may not be it, either.
So it won’t be a surprise when the Tigers end up being worse than they were this past season, but what should be even more troubling is that the rest of the SEC is on the way up. Mississippi State just hired Ben Howland and has a shot of landing top five recruit Malik Newman. Tennessee used the Donnie Tyndall mess to upgrade to Rick Barnes. South Carolina has a McDonald’s All-American coming in. Auburn has Bruce Pearl.
In other words, just four years removed from winning a Big 12 tournament title, going 30-4 overall and earning a No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament, Missouri is staring “the worst team in the SEC” square in the face.
Fuller’s gone. They missed on Thomas Bryant. This transfer nonsense is being used against them on the recruiting trail.
It’s ironic, really.
Anderson is restricting transfers based on who he will play in 2016-17, and he may not still be coaching Missouri then.