On Fridays, Alex Schiffer, one of The Star’s Mizzou beat writers, offers some notes and thoughts on the Tigers' football and men's basketball programs’ recruiting efforts, including scholarship offers and list cuts from the past week.
Wow, and we thought last week was crazy. This week gave it a run for its money.
The one good thing is, I’m never short on writing material. Batter up.
Trey Jackson visits Missouri
Missouri hosted 2019 Michigan native Tray Jackson for an unofficial visit on Tuesday.
Jackson is the latest basketball recruit that assistant coach Cornell Mann is trying to get on board to start his Michigan pipeline and the 6-foot-9 prospect left with an offer.
I caught up with Jackson, and he said the offer was a bit of a surprise to him since he wasn’t expecting one until July.
The thing that stood out to me was how he described himself as a player. Jackson plays AAU for Meanstreets on the Nike EYBL circuit, a Chicago-based team, and said he’s been used everywhere from shooting guard to center.
During his high school season at Western in Parma, Mich., he even ran the point.
“I feel like I’m positionless,” he said. “I’m a ballplayer. I don’t have a position. It’s wherever you want me to play.”
That had to be music to Cuonzo Martin’s ears. Martin has talked all the time about Missouri being a team with interchangeable players that can spread the floor and guard/play multiple positions.
Jackson fits that bill. And with a skillset like that, he can easily play alongside a player like E.J. Liddell.
Aside from Missouri, Jackson said he also plans to visit Oklahoma and Rhode Island and plans to get more serious about the recruiting process in August and September.
Jackson left Missouri impressed and said it doesn’t take much to notice that Martin and his staff cross their I’s and dot their T’s.
“As a program, they’re very organized,” he said. “They do it the right way.”
Speaking of Michigan recruits … (Do I say that too often?)
Harlond Beverly, another major Missouri target, announced that he is transferring from Southfield Christian School in Detroit to national powerhouse Montverde Academy in Florida, for his senior season.
Montverde is the same school that produced NBA lottery picks Ben Simmons, D’Angelo Russell and Joel Embiid.
It’s too early to say how this changes Missouri’s chances with him. After all, the Tigers have been in with him for awhile, and Mann was coached by the same AAU coach as Beverly was.
But Beverly also plays on the NY2LA circuit, which isn’t sponsored by a major shoe circuit.
Montverde plays a national schedule, and Beverly will now have a lot more coaches taking in his games.
Again it’s early, but it’s fair to say Beverly will likely see his recruiting ranking go up with this move, since he’ll be playing against top guys every night, and a strong season would boost his stock and likely produce more offers.
Rocket Watts made the cut for the Under-18 USA National Team alongside MU target Jeremiah Robinson-Earl. Watts was supposed to cut his list to seven schools a week ago but has yet to do so.
I’ve said before that Missouri is in strong shape to make the cut for Watts and get an official visit out of him at some point. I stand by those comments even more so now after doing some homework the past week.
It just might take more time for him to cut things down.
A Jack Buford story
I was in St. Louis on Wednesday to cover Jack Buford’s commitment to Missouri football. The pledge is huge for Barry Odom, who hasn’t signed a recruit out of the city since 2016.
As I wrote my story, I was the last one to leave the conference room that Buford made his announcement in, and likely earned the despise of Lutheran North’s janitors who seemed happy when I left so they could finish cleaning the room.
But as I wrapped up, Buford’s mother Angela came over to me to thank me for coming to cover her son’s big day. We made small talk, and she said how she was blown away on the family’s visit to Missouri by Odom and offensive coordinator Derek Dooley.
I said how I was impressed with her son for knowing he has to help the cause and get more St. Louis recruits on board, and that even on his commitment day, he knew the big picture wasn’t about him.
Her answer stuck with me. “That’s on all of us as a family,” she said. “He’s got his work cut out for him. We got our work cut out for us. We have to spread the word and get more people to come in with us. It starts today.”
In an era in which LaVar Ball is a thing, parents play musical schools with their kids over playing time and scholarships, I couldn’t help but be impressed with Mrs. Buford’s response. On one of the biggest days of her son’s life, she essentially said, 'Yeah this is nice, but we need more commits for this to really be a thing.'
I also found it cool that she thought the whole family had to help sell the program aside from her son. It’s going to take all of them and they acknowledge that and welcome the challenge.
Think Odom slept well on Wednesday?
List cuts and official visits
Missouri made the cut for Jalen Hunt, a defensive lineman out of Belleville, Mich. (Another Michigan pipeline!) The Tigers company is made up of Iowa, Syracuse, Boston College and Michigan State. Not outrageous competition but never easy going against a home-state school. Iowa also appears to have stood out during the process.
The Tigers also made the top seven for Philadelphia wide receiver Yusuf Terry. The likes of Rutgers, West Virginia, North Carolina, Central Florida, Baylor and Syracuse join Missouri on the three-star prospect's list.
Rutgers has good recruiting ties in the City of Brotherly Love, but it’s too early to tell where Terry could go. Watching him on film, he has good speed but really stands out as a blocker.
Feel free to accuse me of going out of the way to write about my home state, but it’s rare I get the chance to do it.
Missouri hosted wide receiver Charles Njoku, a 6-foot-4 prospect from Wayne Hills in New Jersey. He has an older brother David who played at Miami and now plays for the Cleveland Browns. Njoku's other older brother, Evidence, is currently a wideout for the Hurricanes.
Wayne Hills is a factory. Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen and his brothers played there, and every year they have a bunch of Division-I guys. I have no idea if Odom is trying to get a pipeline to the Garden State going (after dealing with me for a few years I don’t blame him if that’s a no), but this would be the kind of program from which to recruit players. It’s not a one-time thing. There will be more prospects to keep an eye on from there. They reload all the time.