Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Missouri lands in-state guard Mario McKinney

Leave a comment

Missouri landed another St. Louis prospect Monday, this one with a Tigers lineage.

Mario McKinney, a top-150 point guard prospect in 2019, committed to coach Cuonzo Martin and Missouri, giving the Tigers their first commitment in the class.

“In my neighborhood, a lot of kid don’t get the opportunity I have,” McKinney said in a commitment video he posted to social media. “I just took that, and I ran with it.

“I will be attending the University of Mizzou.”

McKinney is the cousin of Jimmy McKinney, who played for the Tigers in 2002-06.

“With the McKinney name on my back,” Mario said, “it holds a lot because the McKinneys before me.”

The 6-foot-2 guard averaged 17 points, six boards and four assists last season while starring at Vashon High School, which he has led to back-to-back state championships.

“He came in as a freshman and was athletic with some quickness and a level of toughness about him,” Vashon coach Tony Irons told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “Now as you watch his growth you can see he’s developed. He’s not complete yet, but he’s someone with the skill level of being able to play Division I basketball.

“He’s gotten better at making people better. He kept his competitiveness. He’s gotten more athletic. He’s constantly working on his shot. He’s on his way to becoming a complete player.”

Martin, who hails from East St. Louis, Ill., has cleaned up in the St. Louis area since taking over the Tigers two years ago. He’s landed five players, including Jeremiah Tilmon, from St. Louis during his tenure, making one of the state’s biggest metropolitan areas and basketball hotbeds a stronghold for the Tigers.

Missouri adds late piece to 2018-19 season with three-star guard

Leave a comment

Missouri had a scholarship open up earlier this week when a knee injury forced senior guard Cullen VanLeer into an early retirement.

Seeking some help on the wing for this season, the Tigers landed a very late commitment for the Class of 2018 on late Friday night as three-star guard Christian Guess committed to Missouri with an announcement on Twitter.

The 6-foot-6 Guess is a native of Cleveland, as he is allegedly a late qualifier who could be eligible for the upcoming 2018-19 season. According to reports from Gabe DeArmond of PowerMizzou.com and Eric Bossi of Rivals.com, Guess said that he will enroll at Missouri on Monday as he will attempt to play this season.

While some Division I players have committed right at (or near) the start of the academic calendar, Guess will be attempting to enroll at Missouri even though the fall semester started on Monday, August 20. Every school is obviously different with regard to handling late enrollments, so it’ll be fascinating to see if there are any issues with Guess joining the team so late.

If Guess is eligible for the 2018-19 season, he could give the Tigers some much-needed perimeter depth to an inexperienced group. The only senior in the equation is Jordan Geist while redshirt junior Ronnie Suggs, sophomore K.J. Santos and freshmen Javon Pickett, Xavier Pinson and Torrence Watson will all compete for perimeter minutes along with Guess.

Missouri guard retires after tearing ACL

Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Missouri’s Cullen VanLeer is retiring from basketball as a result of the torn ACL that he suffered in the final regular season game of the 2017-18 season.

“Cullen is a special young man and I admire his work ethic and his willingness to do everything in his power to better our program,” head coach Cuonzo Martin said in a statement. “I appreciate his contributions to the team and I know his leadership will be a significant asset for us during the upcoming season. I look forward to seeing him walk across the stage with a degree in hand in May.”

VanLeer started 33 times in three seasons for the Tigers, including the final ten of his junior year. Originally a Kim Anderson recruit, VanLeer saw his playing time increase at the end of last season after Jordan Geist was moved to the bench and Terrence Phillips was kicked off the team.

VanLeer averaged a career-high 5.6 points in 2016-17. He’ll remain on scholarship for the school year and graduate in May.

Knee injury forces Missouri senior guard Cullen VanLeer to retire

Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Tuesday afternoon it was announced that Missouri senior guard Cullen VanLeer has decided to retire, just over six months after he suffered a torn ACL in his right knee during a game against Arkansas. VanLeer appeared in 31 games last season, starting 13, and he averaged 2.4 points and 1.4 rebounds in 14.3 minutes per game.

“This was a difficult decision, but one that was best for me, my family and my future quality of life,” VanLeer said in a statement. “I’m beyond excited for the season ahead and I’m ready to help lead our team to success in any way I can while I work toward graduation and earning my degree.”

VanLeer’s retirement leaves the Tigers with one less experienced guard to call upon in 2018-19, with Jordan Geist being the lone senior in the perimeter rotation. Freshmen Javon Pickett, Xavier Pinson and Torrence Watson, sophomore K.J. Santos and redshirt junior Ronnie Suggs will all compete for playing time this season.

VanLeer has retired under a medical designation, which means that he’ll be able to keep his scholarship and it will not count against the 13 allowed to a program per NCAA rules.

Missouri refutes claims of former player regarding Title IX violations

Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Last week Terrence Phillips, a former member of the Missouri basketball program who was dismissed from the team due to an investigation into multiple allegations of rape, stalking and sexual misconduct, announced that he had been cleared of three of the four Title IX violations filed against him. However according to the school, that was not the entire story.

It was reported Tuesday by Dave Matter of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that Phillips was also found to have violated Section 3 of the school’s Title IX policy on Sex Discrimination, Sexual Harassment and Sexual Misconduct in Education.

Instead of the one violation noted by Phillips, he was actually found to have committed two. Per the report, a three-person committee ruled unanimously that Phillips was responsible for sending a picture of his genitals to one of the complainants via text message.

According to the Post-Dispatch the woman, who was not identified (as is generally the case in legal matters involving rape and sexual assault/harassment), received an email from the school in early June notifying her of the committee’s verdict that was rendered June 7. Phillips had four days to appeal the ruling but did not do so.

In his Twitter post Phillips mentioned Complainants A, C, D and E but left out Complainant B, who according to the Post-Dispatch could be the woman Matter spoke with. While the woman said that Phillips was not violent towards her, she did use the word “aggressive” in describing his behavior towards her.

“He was just really, really obsessive,” she told the Post-Dispatch. “He’s very pushy and aggressive. Even with me, he was very aggressive in the way he touched me and hugged me and in text messages. I asked him to back off a lot and he comes on even stronger.”

On Sunday another of the complainants took to Twitter to give her side of the story regarding her interaction with Phillips.

Former Mizzou guard found not responsible of rape allegations in Title IX investigation, he says

Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Terrence Phillips, who was dismissed from the Missouri basketball team in February after being accused of wrongdoing by four women, was “found responsible for intimate partner violence” and “not responsible” for allegations of “sexual misconduct, rape, exploitation, and stalking,” after a university Title IX investigation, he said in a statement Thursday.

The junior guard was suspended indefinitely by the Tigers in January after the allegations against him were made.

He was a two-year starter for Mizzou before coming off the bench last year in coach Cuonzo Martin’s first year in Columbia.

Phillips said he was found responsible for a 2016 claim that he pushed his girlfriend. He said he admitted to pushing her, but that it was in self defense during an encounter at his apartment. He said he was found not responsible of allegations of sexual violence from two other women.

Phillips showed the Kansas City Star documentation of the Title IX investigation findings. The Star also confirmed with another woman, who alleged that Phillips sent her sexually suggestive messages despite being asked to stop, that her complaint was dropped in the investigation.

Phillips posted a lengthy statement regarding the allegations and investigation Thursday on Twitter.