Missouri officially added a much-needed point guard to its basketball team Wednesday, announcing the signing of Xavier Pinson.
The 6-foot-2 Chicago product joins a recruiting class with Torrence Watson, Javon Pickett and K.J. Santos, who signed in the fall. Missouri still has two open scholarships and could add another if Jontay Porter decides to remain in the NBA Draft.
“Xavier has tremendous passion for the game and has all the tools to become a standout guard in the SEC,” Missouri coach Cuonzo Martin said in a release. “Xavier is an elite passer who is always looking to get his teammates involved.”
Pinson committed to the program in early February after he took an official visit on Feb. 3, when Missouri beat No. 21 Kentucky for the first time in school history.
“I love the team,” Pinson said shortly after committing. “I love the energy. Cuonzo is active with the players. It’s almost like he’s on the court when he’s coaching, because he’s so into the game.”
Pinson chose the Tigers over Wisconsin, Georgetown and Dayton and played at Chicago powerhouse Simeon Career Academy, which produced NBA stars Derrick Rose and Jabari Parker. Pinson averaged 11.8 points and 3.8 assists per game as a senior and was named an All-City honorable mention by the Chicago Sun-Times.
A year ago Pinson was being looked at as a low to mid-major caliber recruit, but blew up during his senior season after transferring to Simeon from St. Patrick's in Chicago and played well against national competition.
Rob Smith, Simeon's coach, compared Pinson to Jamal Crawford, for his ability to handle the ball and get to the rim.
Pinson was recruited by Missouri assistant Cornell Mann and Smith said the Tigers' need for point guards and his relationship with Mann sold him on the program.
Smith echoed Martin on Pinson's passing ability.
“He sees stuff before any other people even know it," Smith said. "We have to tell him sometimes, 'you’re seeing things that other guys aren’t seeing.' His passing is unbelievable.”
Smith said Pinson will need to add weight on to his frame to better prepare for the college game and needs to develop more consistency in his jump shot.
Pinson joins senior-to-be Jordan Geist as point guards on next season's team. Geist saw extensive time at the position during the second half of the season after freshman guard Blake Harris transferred and junior Terrence Phillips left the program after being investigated by the school’s Title IX office.
Missouri could still add another point guard to its recruiting class and remains in the mix for Courtney Ramey, a consensus top-50 recruit who recently announced a top-10 list that includes the Tigers.
The Tigers are also hosting Illinois transfer Mark Smith for an official visit this weekend. A source close to the situation told The Star that Smith and Ramey won’t attend the same school, which means Missouri can take only one, should both want to commit.