University of Missouri

This week in Mizzou recruiting: Pierre Brooks, Ronnie DeGray and Payton Verhulst

Hello from the Columbia Public Library.

I’ve been between leases the past two weeks and will be spending all of Friday morning moving into my new apartment, so I’m knocking this out now.

Enough of me and my life. Let’s talk recruiting.

Pierre Brooks talks basketball offers

I recently caught up with Pierre Brooks II, a 2021 guard out of Detroit. Brooks recently visited Missouri in June and has seen his recruitment take off since. The 6-foot-5 wing has picked up offers from MU, Michigan State, Illinois, Northwestern and Xavier with interest from Michigan, Stanford and Purdue among others.

Brooks took unofficial visits to Northwestern, Xavier and Michigan State in addition to Missouri and enjoyed all four visits. He said he’s going to try and sneak in a few more before school starts.

“Missouri’s pretty good,” Brooks said of his visit. “I love the campus, love the people. Especially the coaches.”

A three-star recruit and rising, Brooks said his jump shot improved over the course of the AAU season, and he now considers it “high-major level.”

Brooks drew quite the attention for his tweet announcing his Mizzou offer, which included a photo of Tiger legend Doug Smith. Ever since Michael Porter Jr. committed to Missouri, recruits have been including him in pictures of their MU offers. A friend of mine, Kyle Lock, who coincidentally wrote the first ever story on Porter while at the Missourian, argues to me that the constant mentioning of Porter in offer tweets might be his long-lasting impact on the program despite the way his career went.

So I asked Brooks a simple question because of his addition of Smith to the tweet: What do you try and include in your offer tweet?

“It’s a ritual,” he told me. “I try and do it with Detroit guys that went to that college.”

Brooks said he’s very proud of where he’s from so he’s tried to incorporate it into his recruitment. His parents told him about Smith and Brooks has done his homework on Smith him since.

With Brooks having two years left of high school basketball to play, it’s too early to forecast MU’s chances with him. But getting him on campus early is a great start.

Getting to know Ronnie DeGray

Missouri recently offered Ronnie DeGray III, who is a 2020 forward that originally played high school basketball in Colorado but did a prep year at Woodstock Academy in New England. DeGray was one of Missouri coach’s Cuonzo Martin’s first unofficial visitors, as DeGray came to Columbia in 2017 for a football game, well before MU offered him.

I caught up with Woodstock coach Jacque Rivera to learn more about DeGray.

Alex Schiffer: Give me a general scouting report on Ronnie.

Jacque Rivera: I think he’s a wing player that has some versatility to his game. He makes shots. You can move him around with his ability to shoot the ball, but he’s also a very good passer. And he’s a willing passer. You can use him in the mid-post. He can make threes, he’s a straight-line driver and doesn’t shy away from contact. He understands angles, he understands gaps. He’s a good ball-handler but can be better at it.

AS: Where’s he at in his recruitment right now, aside from Missouri?

JR: He’s got other SEC interest (mainly Arkansas and Florida). His focus was playing through his AAU season. Now he’s going to focus more on his college recruitment. Before he was playing his best, but now his recruitment is open.

AS: What would you say recruits in the Northeast know about Missouri given the distance?

JR: Phil Pressey played up here. Him and his brother ended up committing to Missouri. I was a Mike Anderson fan, I think the Northeast kids know a couple of things: They’re in the SEC, they know it’s big-boy basketball and ’m not sure people know how big Mizzou basketball could be.

Catching up on Robin Pingeton’s targets

I’ve received a lot of emails lately asking me to give some updates on some of Robin Pingeton’s biggest targets for Missouri women’s basketball, so I’ll be doing that for the next few weeks. Let’s start with recent news and work back.

Branson, Mo., star Priscilla Williams, who is arguably the state’s top player in the 2020 class announced her top five earlier this week and Missouri missed the cut. Florida State, Mississippi State, Syracuse, SMU and Louisville remain for the 6-foot-2 guard. Williams was very much on Missouri’s radar, and her list of finalists is interesting. Mississippi State and Louisville are national powers while Florida State and Syracuse are usually in the NCAA Tournament. SMU has had two straight losing seasons. I can’t speak for the situation but am surprised Williams cut MU. The Tigers seem to fit the bill of most of her other finalists.

The Tigers are still in the mix for Jayla Kelly out of St. Louis. Kelly cut her list of schools to six a few weeks ago and Missouri is in the mix along with Missouri State, Purdue, TCU, St. Louis and Northwestern. Pingeton had an in-home visit with Kelly in the spring. Most of Kelly’s options are close to home, which should help MU. Kelly is 6 feet, 2 inches tall and considered a top-100 prospect nationally. I plan to catch up with Kelly for next week’s column.

Moving to the 2021 class, Missouri lost out on one Tiger legacy but remains in the mix for another star with local ties. Saylor Poffenbarger, a 6-2 guard from Maryland, committed in July to Connecticut over Missouri, Maryland and Oregon. Ranked No. 21 in the ESPNW 2021 rankings, Poffenbarger’s mom is Amy Fordham, who was a standout at Missouri from 1990-1994 and is No. 3 on the program’s all-time assist list.

With Poffenbarger off the board, Pingeton has all eyes on Bishop Miege star Payton Verhulst, whose coach Terry English said has heard from every program in the country except for Notre Dame and Connecticut. She’s 6-1 and is currently ranked No. 7 in the ESPNW 2021 rankings. In June, Greg Woods, intern at The Star, wrote a profile of Verhulst. She seems to be taking her time with the recruiting process. Verhulst would be a tremendous get for Pingeton.

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Alex Schiffer has been covering the Missouri Tigers for The Star since October 2017. He came in second place for magazine-length feature writing by the U.S. Basketball Writer’s Association in 2018 and graduated from Mizzou in 2017.