Missouri’s most productive returnee dealing with minor knee issue

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As Kim Anderson begins his first season as the head coach at Missouri, the highly successful coach will have some holes to fill from a personnel standpoint. Leading scorers Jabari Brown and Jordan Clarkson left school to turn pro shortly after the end of the 2013-14 campaign, and in total the Tigers have to account for the loss of their top three scorers (Earnest Ross as well).

That leaves sophomore forward Johnathan Williams III as Missouri’s most productive returnee, as he started all 35 games and averaged 5.8 points and a team-best 6.5 rebounds per contest as a freshman. Missouri won’t be a guard-dominated team this season, meaning that Williams will have more opportunities to shine under the new regime.

Unfortunately for Williams (and Missouri) he’ll have to miss some time, as he suffered a slight tear in his meniscus during a workout according to Steve Walentik of the Columbia Daily Tribune.

Of note is the fact that Williams expects to be ready for Missouri’s exhibition opener on October 29 against William Jewell College. The front court is where Missouri returns the majority of its experience from last season, with fellow starter Ryan Rosburg (4.8 ppg, 4.1 rpg) and senior Keanau Post (8.1 mpg) joining Williams. Missouri also added freshmen Jakeenan Gant and D’Angelo Allen, which will help with regards to both depth and talent in the front court.

The backcourt will be young, and the loss of Cameron Biedscheid won’t help matters, but that doesn’t mean Missouri is lacking talent on the perimeter. Hawaii graduate transfer Keith Shamburger gives Missouri an experienced option at the point, and freshmen such as Montaque Gill-Caesar and Namon Wright will compete for time as well. Sophomore Wes Clark and Deuce Bello, who sat out last season after transferring in from Baylor, will also factor into the rotation in 2014-15.

Missouri basketball players support Michael Sam

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The University of Missouri community has rallied behind senior Michael Sam, which includes support from the men’s basketball team as well.

On Sunday, Sam, the 2013 SEC Co-Defensive Player of the Year, announced that he was gay, and could potentially be the NFL’s first openly gay player with the 2014 NFL Draft scheduled in three months.

Steve Walentik of the Columbia Daily Tribune, asked several members of the basketball team their thoughts on the news, with plenty of positive reactions.

“Happy for him coming out,” Jordan Clarkson told Walentik. “Love is love — it shouldn’t change the person, what he is. He’s a football player. That’s what he does on the field, and it shouldn’t matter what he does off the field.”

Missouri football coach Gary Pinkel and athletic director Mike Alden issued a statement of support shortly after the news broke while some fans spelled Sam’s name in the snow at Faurot Field.

“I think the Mizzou community has really done a good job of supporting him,” Sophomore forward Ryan Rosburg added. “Everywhere I go, I just hear good things about him, how everyone is so proud that he came from Mizzou and he’s really being true to himself.”

Leading scorer Jabari Brown wasn’t surprised by the reception from the rest of Mizzou, rather intrigued he announced this before May’s draft where Sam is projected to go as high as the third round.