E.J. Liddell, Missouri’s top target for the 2019 men’s basketball class, trimmed his list to five schools on Monday afternoon and the Tigers made the cut. Ohio State, Kansas State, Illinois and Wisconsin are the other schools that still remain in contention for Liddell’s services.
The 6-foot-7 forward spent the past week in Thousand Oaks, Cali. for the Nike Skills Academy, an invite-required camp that only the top prospects in the nation attend. Liddell had a strong summer on the AAU circuit playing for Bradley Beal Elite.
With the consensus four-star recruit now down to five schools, here’s where Missouri stands in relation to the other four:
Missouri: The Tigers made Liddell a priority just days after Cuonzo Martin was hired by Missouri in March 2017. Martin and assistant coach Chris Hollender have been regulars at Liddell’s games and have pitched him the idea of being positionless in the Tigers’ system. Liddell has been on campus a few times and attended the Braggin’ Rights Game in St. Louis. Martin has already added a ton of St. Louis-area talent since taking the job, including Jeremiah Tilmon, Mark Smith, Javon Pickett and Torrence Watson. Missouri is absolutely in the mix for Liddell.
Kansas State: The Wildcats’ run to the Elite Eight underscored Bruce Weber’s coaching ability, and it has already paid off on the recruiting trail. Kansas State currently has a commitment from four-star wing Montavious Murphy, and adding Liddell would make for a strong scoring duo. The Wildcats and Tigers are the only two schools on both Liddell’s and 2019 guard Mario McKinney’s lists. They’ve talked about playing together.
Ohio State: Liddell took an unofficial visit to Columbus over the summer and is now set to make his first official visit there at the end of the month. At one point, it looked like the Buckeyes were out of it for Liddell, especially with the commitment of five-star forward Alonzo Gaffney. But after point guard D.J. Carton jumped on board for coach Chris Holtmann, the program became a player again. Liddell and Gaffney are similar players, but it appears Holtmann has convinced both that they can play together. Sources told The Star that the Buckeyes like their chances with Liddell.
Illinois: The Fightin’ Illini were the first school to offer Liddell early in his high school career and have been right there alongside Missouri throughout his recruitment. Coach Brad Underwood had a tough first year in Champaign, Ill., but has signed five-star guard Ayo Dosunmo, who should help next season. Illinois currently has no commitments for its 2019 class and Liddell’s at the top of its wish list.
Wisconsin: The Badgers were a later offer for Liddell and have struggled since the retirement of legendary coach Bo Ryan. But playing time in Madison is up for grabs after the 2018-19 season — the Badgers lose three forwards to graduation, including all-conference Ethan Happ. Like Missouri and Illinois, Wisconsin gives Liddell a chance for some immediate minutes. It’s impressive that the Badgers made the cut after only offering him in July. Greg Gard’s program could be a sleeper for his services.