COLUMBIA — At 6 feet 11 and 260 pounds, Keanau Post fits the physical prototype of a true center.
By TEREZ A. PAYLOR
The Kansas City Star
And Missouri coach Frank Haith — who received a letter of intent for the junior college big man on Wednesday — could not be happier to see him join his 2013-14 roster.
“He’s a true center, but I think he’s got really good skills,” Haith said. “He’s a developing guy, but he has ability, a really good jump hook and good feet … he’s a low-post scorer, which I like.”
Post, who committed to Missouri in January, is listed by Rivals as a four-star prospect and the No. 3 overall junior college player in the nation. Post averaged 12.3 points, 8.3 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game last season for Southwestern Illinois College, which went 22-11 during a season in which he was chosen as a second-team junior college All-American and the MVP of the Great Rivers Athletic Conference.
Haith said Post first jumped on Missouri’s radar last summer.
“He really blew up,” Haith said. “He was great at the camps we saw him at … he’s a guy that wasn’t on the scene until last summer.”
Now, Haith is eager to see what strength coach Todor Pandov — who helped forward Alex Oriakhi change his body before a very productive senior season — can do with Post.
“We want him at the same weight, but we want him to redefine that weight,” Haith said. “I think it will help his mobility. He has good feet now … he was a part of their press. But with the athletes in our league, we want (his mobility) to get better.”
Post will join a frontcourt that will be long on bodies but short on experience. Junior forward Tony Criswell was the first big man off the bench this year, with freshman forward Ryan Rosburg earning minutes as Oriakhi’s backup.
But freshman forward Stefan Jankovic, while a potentially gifted scorer, saw his playing dwindle as the season went on, and incoming freshmen forward Johnathan Williams III and Torren Jones — ranked as the Nos. 42 and 123 overall players in the Class of 2014 by Rivals — are unproven.
Even still, Haith is optimistic that Missouri will receive solid play from his big men in the fall.
“I think you’ll be surprised at the guys we have and the improvement they make from one year to the next,” Haith said. “L-Bo (Laurence Bowers), his freshman year, his numbers were less than Jankovic’s. So guys improve.”
Haith said Jankovic, who the staff envisions as a stretch four, could also play some small forward, if needed.
“We can put the five best guys out there,” said Haith, who added that redshirting one of the newcomers is a possibility. “I do think because of our bench, we’ll be able to play more guys and do some things differently.”
But while he was quick to say that the next season is still several months away, Haith could not help but be excited about his latest signee.
“Keanau gives us a guy that can score,” Haith said. “He’s shown the ability to be able to do that.”
Rector to visit Mizzou
Shane Rector, a 6-foot, 170-pound three-star point guard from South Kent, Conn., is expected to visit Missouri this weekend, according to Rivals.
Rector, who decommitted from Rutgers after coach Mike Rice was fired, also has offers from Butler, Minnesota, Texas A&M and Virginia Tech. Missouri already has one freshman point guard in the fold in four-star Romulus, Mich., native Wes Clark, who has signed his letter of intent, but Rector is a scorer who could earn minutes in a backcourt that could be thin with junior Phil Pressey’s recent decision to declare for the NBA Draft.
“We anticipated losing Phil but we didn’t sign another point guard just out of respect, to see what Phil decided to do,” Haith said.
Haith said the Tigers, who have three open scholarships available for the fall, will continue to scour the country for freshmen and Division I transfers who would be a good fit in Columbia. Missouri has made a living off transfers during Haith’s tenure, with Jabari Brown, Earnest Ross, Keion Bell, Jordan Clarkson and Alex Oriakhi all coming from other schools.
“It’s the culture we’re in right now,” Haith said. “Look across the country and how many kids are transferring and going places everyday. You’ve got to know it’s going to be like that and work accordingly.”