Greetings from the last day of the SEC Media Days. We’re on day nine of a nine-day road trip, and I’m low on fuel.
While you all take out your violins for me, let’s catch up with some closing Mizzou recruiting thoughts from the Peach Jam and then some.
Liddell and McKinney to…?
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McKinney and Liddell are as good as family. They can’t agree on when they first started playing together (kindergarten or second grade) and the parents are just as close as their sons are.
I once sat with Mario McKinney Sr. and Eric Liddell at the Nike EYBL session in Dallas, and the elder McKinney cracked a joke that … missed. Mr. Liddell, who was sitting next to McKinney Sr., slid a little bit away from him, looked at me and said, “I can’t be seen with him right now. That was bad.”
So clearly there’s as much brotherly love between the parents as there is between E.J. and Mario Jr. I asked McKinney if either he or Liddell have ever gotten sick of each other: he said no.
As for the odds of this actually happening, context is key. Jahlil Okafor and Tyus Jones of Duke are the only pair I remember to back up the talk and go to school together. Michael Porter Jr. and Trae Young discussed it for a while and were reminded of the slim prospects of a package deal and continued to insist it would happen. We all know how that ended.
There have been others, some that were only discussed for a little bit and others that had more longevity that never happened. So most of the time, it’s just talk.
Missouri, Florida, Kansas State, Illinois and Marquette are some of the programs recruiting the both of them. I don’t see Kansas State as a likely destination for either one, especially Liddell, and Illinois seem more interested in him than McKinney. I haven’t heard much with Marquette and Liddell.
That leaves Florida and Missouri. The Gators offered both in the spring and it remains to be seen if they make both players’ list cuts. I would classify Florida as a unknown in all of this. I can’t handicap its odds.
As for Missouri, I think if they’re going to go to the same school, the Tigers make the most sense. The Tigers have to take a point guard of sorts, maybe even two, with the graduation of Jordan Geist after this season and the lack of depth there to begin with.
Liddell remains Missouri’s top target but has picked up an offer from Wisconsin and interest from Duke, North Carolina and Indiana among others. More on that later.
McKinney is right there with Liddell on the Tigers list of priorities. We’ll have a better idea of where things stand once both prospects cut down their lists within the next month or so. Liddell’s dad told me he expects his son’s final list to be somewhere between three to five schools.
In summary, the odds aren’t in favor of this happening but if it were to, Missouri is the most likely destination as of right now.
For those of you about to accuse me of getting political on here, that’s not my style. I’m simply a big Elton John fan.
Rocket Watts finally cut his list after saying in June he was going to cut it to seven. A month later and he’s down to eight schools.
His list is Michigan, Michigan State, Missouri, Louisville, Florida State, Xavier, Oregon and Connecticut.
I expected his list to look pretty close to that, with Xavier, Oregon and UConn being the main surprises for me.
I don’t know where those schools stand with Watts. Oregon appears to recruit nearly everybody, which makes it tough to gauge where they stand with a lot of players.
With Missouri, I think Watts will take an official visit to the school at some point. After that I have no clue. Michigan just became an even bigger factor to me because the Wolverines were all in on D.J. Carton, who just committed to Ohio State.
Now Watts becomes a bigger focus for them.
Final thought on Watts is to watch out for Florida State. I think the Seminoles are a big factor here that no one seems to recognize.
To official or to unofficial...
Circling back to McKinney, a big debate came up on Twitter after he said he’d likely not take an official visit to Missouri, given its proximity to St. Louis. He plans to use two of his official visits to Kansas State and Auburn, schools that aren’t very close to him. The rest remain undecided.
McKinney has been on Missouri’s campus a number of times and knows Columbia well. The others he can’t speak as well for. To me it’s not a knock on Missouri’s chances if he chooses to take an unofficial visit to Columbia and use the five free trips on places that would be expensive or inconvenient on his own dime.
A lot of staffs would say if they can get a kid on an official visit they would prefer it over an unofficial because they can give a kid the royal treatment and show him whatever he wants. With McKinney, I don’t think it’s the end of the world. For him to say he’s seen enough of Missouri to not warrant an official visit shows me that Cuonzo Martin’s staff did a great job of getting in with him early and showing him as much as they could. Not every school recruiting him can say that.
And he could still use an official there.
But if he doesn’t then it’s more of a compliment to Missouri than an insult.
Liddell’s newest schools
A quick note here on North Carolina, Duke and Indiana in regards to E.J. Liddell.
While on this road trip, I interviewed some KU recruiting priorities to help out their beat writers at our paper. Before you nail me to a cross, some of those gave me good insight that I’m using now.
Josh Green, a consensus five-star recruit, said Roy Williams told him he only offers scholarships to six to seven kids a year because North Carolina is well, North Carolina. I’d be stunned if the Tar Heels offer Liddell. Simply too many guys in front of him as of right now.
Duke is a strong possibility. Assistant coach Chris Carrawell replaced Jeff Capel on Coach K’s bench, after Capel got hired at Pittsburgh. Carrawell is from St. Louis and played at Cardinal Ritter. He has strong ties to the area and landing Liddell would be a good way to impress his new boss.
At the same time, the Blue Devils are in good with blue-chip recruits like Isaiah Stewart, Vernon Carey and Matthew Hurt. I’d be surprised if Duke doesn’t get some combination of those three. I think Liddell is behind those guys and even if he does get an offer, would he want to go into a situation like that?
Indiana is also recruiting Keion Brooks, an in-state kid who has similar game to Liddell and plays the same position. He can change the situation there.
An offer from any of three schools could alter Liddell’s recruitment but the guys in front of him have just as much, if not more influence.
Football lands a IMG defensive back
Barry Odom landed a commitment from Chris Shearin, a defensive back from IMG Academy in Florida. A 5-foot-11 prospect, he also had offers from Maryland, Duke, Temple and West Virginia.
IMG is a national power that regularly produces blue-chip recruits. It’s a good school for Missouri to get into.
The Tigers have just six commitments in their 2019 class, which has them at the bottom of the SEC in terms of quantity.
But that could change because….
Night at the Zou is July 28
Started under Barry Odom, Missouri’s invite-only camp under the lights at Faurot Field, can’t come soon enough.
The Tigers go into this year’s event with a lot more momentum than last year given they’re coming off a bowl appearance and have a Heisman candidate at quarterback.
It’s too early for a list of invitees but the event usually nets Missouri around five commitments the week after it occurs.
Four-star St. Louis receiver Marcus Washington is likely to attend the event and recently tweeted that he’s going to commit on Aug. 7. Missouri is in good shape with him and the camp will be a good way to make a strong last impression.