It’s with a heavy heart that I type this week’s recruiting column, as it will be my last for The Star. Before we get to the usual breakdown, I would like to thank everyone for reading it the past year and a half. All the comments I’ve gotten this week have been humbling.
The recruiting column was born as an idea to keep me busier during the summer months and give Mizzou fans information they couldn’t get anywhere else. I’d like to think I’ve done that. Each week, no matter how busy I was I tried my best to talk to players you might have never heard about or were trying to get the latest on. The recruitment of Aijha Blackwell led to more demand for info on women’s basketball recruits, which I gladly added.
Thanks to all those for reading and sorry for the sappy intro. Let’s get to the goods.
Caleb Love commits to North Carolina
Missouri’s second 2020 priority basketball recruit came off the board on Tuesday as five-star guard Caleb Love committed to North Carolina over MU. He joins Cam’Ron Fletcher (Kentucky) as the second of the three main Missouri targets in the 2020 class. All that remains is Josh Christopher. More on him later.
I’m not surprised that MU lost Love to UNC and find it completely justifiable for the Tigers to lose an in-state prospect to a blue blood like the Tar Heels. Even when MU was leap-frogging other schools in Love’s recruitment, the idea was that UNC would be the toughest school to beat. That’s what happened.
I talked to a source in the know of Love’s recruitment before he committed and was told that while MU had a great pitch, one of the small issues with the Tigers’ situation was that the team is absolutely loaded in the backcourt, while the Tar Heels can pitch him a starting spot. Barring attrition, MU will return all of its guards and wings next season and is really only at risk of losing its frontcourt players to graduation or possibly going pro. North Carolina will likely lose point guard Cole Anthony to the NBA after this season, giving Love an immediate starting spot. My final take on the situation is that I think it’s a when, not an if, Cuonzo Martin lands a top-tier recruit out of St. Louis. It reminds me a lot of Barry Odom’s “Tiger 10,” which he appears to have rebounded well from. The Tigers are making an effort in St. Louis and there will be a time when it pays off.
Jordan Wilmore commits to Mizzou
Missouri did get a big basketball commitment (literally) on Sunday in 7-foot-2 center Jordan Wilmore. Wilmore is MU’s first commitment for the 2020 class. I saw Wilmore at the mall on Saturday when he was on his visit and he is one of the biggest human beings I’ve ever seen in my life.
There’s not a lot out there on Wilmore, but I expect MU to continue to chase other post players with the threat of Jeremiah Tilmon turning pro and the already expected departure of Reed Nikko to graduation. Axel Okongo has one year of eligibility left, and while MU is fighting to get him another, right now it can be expected to lose him unless something changes. I still think MU winds up with Davion Bradford when it’s all said and done. I don’t know if MU will chase another post player outside of Bradford, regardless of where he decides to go.
John Hugley IV announced he’s committing in the coming weeks and it appears he’s not going to make it to MU before doing so, which is why I wonder if we’ll see MU chase another target for the paint. I think Hugley winds up at Pitt.
Josh Christopher to visit Howard
Jemele Hill dropped a recruiting bomb this week for The Atlantic when she reported that Josh Christopher would take a visit to Howard this weekend. Christopher plans to visit MU on Oct. 19 and is in no rush to make a decision. While it’s an interesting move to see him visit Howard, I have a hard time seeing the Bison land Christopher. But it does make me wonder where MU stands, because distance from home has always been the biggest question mark in this situation.
Christopher taking his time is nothing but good for MU. Internally, MU expects to have a good season and wants to try and capitalize on that in the spring recruiting period when the coaching carousel puts kids back on the market. If MU gets off to a stronger start than some of Christopher’s other finalists, it could get really interesting.