Missouri announced the signing of its 2018 men’s basketball recruiting class on the eve of the Tigers’ season opener against Iowa State.
The class is the first under Cuonzo Martin in which all of the players are his own — 2017 recruit C.J. Roberts was originally signed by Kim Anderson the previous fall.
K.J. Santos, Torrence Watson and Javon Pickett are expected to help Missouri on the wing after the Tigers are expected to lose Michael Porter Jr. to the NBA Draft and both Kassius Robertson and Jordan Barnett to graduation following this season.
Watson is the gem of the class as Missouri’s highest touted recruit. The St. Louis native is rated a four-star recruit and the No. 68 ranked player in the country by ESPN. A 6-foot-5 shooting guard, Watson was a heavy priority for Anderson’s staff and committed to Missouri and Martin over the summer after originally pledging to Ohio State.
“I think the big difference is just the atmosphere,” Watson said. “The will to win. The hype around basketball there is just totally different right now.”
A big, physical wing, Watson described himself as a “do-it-all guard” who needs to improve on his three-point shooting. Watson said Martin told him he’ll mainly play on the wing in college and is expected to be a scorer for Missouri.
Watson and Pickett are good friends and played basketball together in middle school. The two also played on the Jets-Ramey United AAU team.
Both players are in the ear of unsigned point guard Courtney Ramey, who played on the AAU team with Pickett and Watson and recently decommitted from Louisville following the FBI investigation there. Despite being full on scholarships with the three additions, Missouri is still recruiting Ramey.
“I talk to him a little bit,” Watson said of Ramey. “I try to let him be right now with everything with Louisville. I just want to make sure he’s making the best decision for him so I’m giving him a little bit of time.”
Santos is a junior-college player who started at Illinois-Chicago before heading to Tallahassee Community College. He is a 6-foot-8 forward who averaged 7.1 points and 4.3 rebounds as a college freshman for the Flames. He’ll have three years of eligibility at Mizzou after deciding to redshirt this season.
“He’s a bit of a mystery,” said Eric Bossi, a national recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. “I haven’t seen play in multiple years. Even when he was in high school he was bitten by the injury bug a lot of the time. But when he did get to see him he was very fluid and seemed to have a lot of skill.”
Pickett is a former Illinois signee who asked out of his letter of intent after John Groce was fired. Originally a 2017 recruit, he reclassified down a year and is taking a prep year at Sunrise Christian Academy in Wichita.
Since getting to prep school, Pickett has played point guard despite being a wing in high school. He expects to play shooting guard at Missouri but said there is a chance he could see time at point guard.
“I’ll probably be more of a wing and a ball handler, but if they need me to handle it I can,” he said.
Bossi said Pickett projects as a four-year player who will need time to develop but could be a key piece for Missouri as an upperclassman.
“I don’t think he’s a guy that you take expecting to set the world on fire as a freshman,” he said. “He’s a guy you take for the long-term. As a junior and senior is battle-tested. He’s going to be a big, strong kid when it’s all said and done. He’s got a knack for scoring.”
All three signees are expected to be at Missouri’s season opener against Iowa State.