The Mizzou Tigers concluded their rough season at the bottom of the South Eastern Conference standings. Finishing with an 8-24 record, the team flashed its potential in several games, but ultimately it was yet another down season for the program that has struggled since entering the SEC in 2012. After only three years as the head coach of the Tigers, Kim Anderson was asked to step down from the program on March 5. Since then a span of rumors, ambiguous tweets and massive acquisitions have catapulted the team from a bottom dweller to contender.
When Anderson was let go the rumors circulated everywhere on who the replacement would be. Names like Tom Crean, Archie Miller and Gregg Marshall were all linked to becoming the next Mizzou basketball head coach. Yet unsurprisingly, the job was given to former Cal head coach Cuonzo Martin, who was born in East St. Louis, coached at Missouri State and is considered to be an excellent recruiter. Martin agreed to a seven year, $21-million-dollar contract on March 15. From there on out, Martin wasted little time in building a talented roster that could very well give Kentucky serious competition in the SEC.
Less than two weeks after his hiring, Martin already made history by recruiting the consensus No. 1 prospect in the country, Michael Porter Jr. Porter Jr. was raised right in the University of Missouri’s backyard in Columbia and has multiple ties to the University. His two sisters Bri and Cierra play basketball for Mizzou and his father was an assistant coach at one point for the women’s team as well. Originally committed to Washington, Porter Jr. was able to reopen his recruitment process after Washington fired its head coach Lorenzo Romar. From there, Martin then added his father, Michael Porter Sr. to his coaching staff and it appeared to be a package deal as Porter Jr. announced his commitment.
Porter Jr. is seen as an incredibly rare talent. Despite having the frame of a big, 6’10’’, 215 lb., he is considered to be a terrific shooter from anywhere on the court and an overall offensive threat. As soon as he steps on the court at Mizzou Arena, Porter Jr. will immediately be the star of the team. Already he has drawn comparisons to NBA stars like Kevin Durant and Paul George, and likely will only stay at Mizzou for just a year before entering the NBA draft in 2018.
Even after inking the best player in the country, Martin wasn’t finished. From there he targeted another Washington decommit, four-star guard Blake Harris and reaffirmed the commitment of C.J. Roberts, a three-star guard who committed to Mizzou months prior to the hiring of Martin. Both players signed, and the team then claimed senior sharpshooting transfer Kassius Robertson from Canisius. Finally, on Monday, Martin scored again by landing four-star center from East St. Louis, Jerimiah Tilmon.
Even after a multitude of huge moves, there will at least be one more acquisition as the team has one remaining scholarship to give for the 2017-2018 season. The player most likely to fill the final spot is Michael Porter Jr.’s younger brother Jontay, who has stated he is 50-50 about reclassifying and joining his family at Mizzou. Jontay is a four-star center who may provide even more depth at a position the Tigers absolutely need.
Martin has made drastic changes to a team that desperately needed it after a three-year span of the worst record in program history. In just two months he landed Mizzou the sixth best recruiting class of 2017, and if Jontay Porter reclassifies, Mizzou will likely find themselves in the top five. Fans expected change to occur, but no one expected this series of events to unfold. The hype and excitement for this team has spread throughout the country and the season is still several months away. This team is already expected to at least make the NCAA tournament and possibly make a deep run next March. It has been an incredibly interesting turn of events the past few months, and the team and fans alike are anxious for opening tipoff of the new season.