University of Missouri

Mizzou guard Cullen VanLeer to medically retire, opening up a scholarship for Tigers

MU’s Cuonzo Martin: Cullen VanLeer carries himself like a ‘professional’

Missouri coach Cuonzo Martin will have to play Cullen VanLeer more while Terrence Phillips is indefinitely suspended.
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Missouri coach Cuonzo Martin will have to play Cullen VanLeer more while Terrence Phillips is indefinitely suspended.

Missouri announced on Tuesday that senior guard Cullen VanLeer will retire from basketball and receive a medical exemption. VanLeer will still be on scholarship but he won’t count towards the team’s limit of 13 scholarships. He will graduate in May.

VanLeer tore the ACL in his right knee during Missouri’s regular-season finale against Arkansas in March and missed the Tigers’ two postseason games.

Tigers coach Cuonzo Martin has said throughout the offseason that medical retirement was an option for VanLeer.

“I’m very thankful for the support of Coach Martin and his staff, my teammates, my family and friends, and Mizzou Nation,” VanLeer said in a release. “This was a difficult decision, but one that was best for me, my family and my future quality of life.”

VanLeer appeared in 94 games over three seasons, making 33 starts for Mizzou. He scored 378 points and racked up 96 assists and 136 rebounds in that span. When Missouri was low on bodies last season because of injuries and transfers, VanLeer proved himself to be an assignment-sound defender who could be relied on to shoot a three-pointer.

A coach’s son, VanLeer was always praised by Martin and former coach Kim Anderson for his IQ and decision-making.

“Cullen is a special young man and I admire his work ethic and his willingness to do everything in his power to better our program,” Martin said. “I appreciate his contributions to the team and I know his leadership will be a significant asset for us during the upcoming season. I look forward to seeing him walk across the stage with a degree in hand in May.”

With VanLeer’s departure, Missouri still has plenty of bodies on the wing, including newcomers Torrence Watson, K.J. Santos and Javon Pickett.

Missouri will have three scholarships open for the 2019 recruiting class with VanLeer and seniors Kevin Puryear and Jordan Geist all graduating and a likely fourth, assuming Jontay Porter goes pro.

Martin has talked in the past of possibly adding a mid-season transfer, which he can now do using VanLeer’s scholarship.