Mizzou’s Jeremiah Tilmon on his foul issues
Missouri basketball coach Cuonzo Martin announced a lot of changes to his program when he met with reporters on Tuesday.
Martin said the following moves have recently taken place:
- Sophomore Jontay Porter will stay in the NBA Draft
- Center Jeremiah Tilmon will return for his junior season
- Walk-on Ronnie Suggs will transfer after graduating this week
- Walk-on Parker Braun, a Blue Valley Northwest graduate, is now on scholarship
Also Tuesday, Missouri added 6-foot-7 three-star recruit Kobe Brown, who chose the Tigers over Vanderbilt, Penn State and Minnesota. Martin was unable to publicly comment on Brown’s commitment because his letter-of-intent wasn’t yet submitted. Martin said he doesn’t expect any other attrition with his staff or roster.
The moves make Missouri better and smaller going into Martin’s third season, as the Tigers will carry just two true centers in Tilmon and senior Reed Nikko.
Evansville transfer Dru Smith will also be eligible to play after sitting out the past season, and Missouri will add signees Mario McKinney and Tray Jackson along with Brown. Martin said Jackson and McKinney both bring the ability to directly drive to the basket, which is something he thought the roster lacked his first two seasons.
As a result, Martin expects Missouri to play with more four-guard lineups built around Tilmon, and some smaller ones with the additions of Braun and Jackson. Martin said Braun is a great presence around the rim and has added about 17 pounds of muscle since he stepped on campus last summer.
Jackson will have a chance to start immediately as Missouri’s power forward, likely alongside Dru Smith, Mark Smith, Javon Pickett and Tilmon. Torrence Watson, Xavier Pinson, Nikko and Mitchell Smith will also be regulars in Missouri’s rotation.
“You’ll have a lot of guys on the floor that can shoot the ball,” Martin said. “We’ll have multiple ball handlers that can make decisions.”
With the addition of Brown and the decision to put Braun on scholarship, Missouri still has one open scholarship, which Martin said the program could pocket for the 2020 class. MU is targeting a number of highly touted guards and post players.
Tilmon originally declared for the NBA Draft with the intent of working out for teams and potentially getting a combine invite, but was never able to fully explore the process because of a paperwork issue. Martin said he tried for two weeks with the NBA to get Tilmon in as a late entry.
Martin said the next step in Tilmon’s game, aside from kicking his foul troubles, is getting comfortable with his ball handling to where he can start showing the range in his shot.
“He spent a lot of time in the summer shooting the three-point shot and having the comfort to shoot the ball,” Martin said. “I think the biggest thing is handling the ball and making decisions. We also have to put him in position where’s at the elbow with the ball and attacking.”
Martin’s first two teams at Missouri have been without their best player as Michael Porter Jr. and younger brother Jontay have been lost for essentially the entire season to back surgery and a torn ACL, respectively.
He said the team’s first priority for his third season is to get healthy, as Missouri also had Pickett struggle with back trouble toward the end of the season and lost Mark Smith to a foot injury in January.
“If we’re healthy we have a chance to be a really good team,” Martin said. “I think we have good guard play, I think Jeremiah is as good as any big, I think with the addition of Tray Jackson, (who is) 6-foot-8, can make plays off the dribble, addition of Dru Smith, I like our chances against anybody.”