A month ago, most would’ve considered Missouri basketball one of the worst programs in the NCAA.
With a new coaching staff, the nation’s top recruit, and a few others on board, the Tigers are shaping up to become a real threat in 2017.
For Cuonzo Martin and his new staff of assistants, they have an even bigger plan. After four-star guard C.J. Roberts reaffirmed his commitment to the Tigers on a radio show earlier this week, Kevin Knox and Blake Harris also announced planned visits to Missouri on April 8th and 9th.
If you remember from last weeks story, Knox is a five-star recruit out of the state of Florida and a top-ten player in the country. Harris is a four-star recruit from North Carolina, formerly committed to Washington to play alongside Michael Porter Jr.
It’s the last official visit Knox has and with Porter Jr. in his ear and along for the visit, Missouri will need to make it count. Knox has already taken official visits to Kentucky, Duke, North Carolina, and Florida State.
Scout.com’s Evan Daniels spoke with Knox ahead of the Nike Hoops Summit and he had some interesting things to say.
“It’s going to be a lot of fun and Mizzou fans are really looking forward to me coming up there,” Knox said.
“I know Missouri came on pretty late, but I’m still listening to what Mike has to say. We’d basically be unstoppable. I think they have a really good chance, so I’m going to go up there and see what they have to say,” Knox said.
Knox said he and his family will talk about all the school’s, with a possible decision coming at the end of April.
Harris seems more likely than Knox at this point having already been committed to play with Porter Jr. once, but Michigan State is also heavily in the mix. Missouri could land Harris when he comes on his official visit this weekend, but he also has plans to visit Michigan State, Connecticut, and Rutgers as well.
Things became more interesting Wednesday afternoon when news broke that Jeremiah Tilmon, a five-star recruit out of East St. Louis, asked out of his letter of intent from Illinois.
If you like reading into things well then here’s some info you’ll enjoy as a Missouri fan. Tilmon’s crystal ball, which has steadily favored Missouri despite Illinois’ retention of assistant Jamall Walker, is now at 100 percent in favor of the Tigers.
— Nick Yahl (@NickYahl) April 5, 2017
While, this is only one recruiting site, you’d have to think Missouri is the favorite following Tilmon’s decision to re-open his recruitment.
Rival’s national basketball analyst, Eric Bossi, also suggests the Tigers are the favorite to land Tilmon.
— Eric Bossi (@ebosshoops) April 5, 2017
This is a bit surprising with how close Walker and Tilmon reportedly are, but as we know, so many of these kids change their minds about as much as the Missouri weather changes (A lot).
It’s too early to tell if and when Tilmon visits Missouri and I’d be hard pressed to believe that Illinois will release him from his LOI in time for him to join Harris and Knox in Columbia this weekend.
It will also be interesting to see how if at all, Tilmon’s decision affects Illinois prospect Mark Smith. Smith hasn’t made a decision on his future yet with offers from Missouri, Illinois, and Michigan State among others.
Martin and Smith have talked and Missouri has a scheduled in home visit with the Illinois Gatorade Player of the Year for Thursday.
With all of the news surrounding players joining the team also comes news regarding players wanting to leave the team.
Tuesday, Missouri announced K.J. Walton and Frankie Hughes will leave the program, which opens up two more possible scholarships for Knox and Tilmon.
After the departure of high school teammate Willie Jackson earlier this year, the writing was on the wall that Hughes would also leave. Walton’s departure is a bit more surprising because he may have still been in the fold to get quality minutes.
In addition to the Missouri players leaving, Jordan Geist will remain with the Tigers. Although, I still think there’s a possibility a guy like Jakoby Kemp or Mitchell Smith decides to leave depending on how the chips fall with Knox, Tilmon, Harris, etc.
Since I got three quick texts, Jordan Geist, also of Missouri, will remain at Missouri. @jordangeist12
— Indy Heat EYBL 2020 (@IndyHeatJWR) April 4, 2017
As far as the rest of Cuonzo Martin’s staff is concerned, in addition to Michael Porter Sr., Cornell Mann from Oakland and Chris Hollender from UMKC will join Martin as the other assistants on staff.
Joe Walljasper of the Columbia Daily Tribune reports Mann will make $250,000, while Hollender will make $180,000 per year. Michael Porter Sr. will have an annual salary of $375,000.
This is an important weekend for Missouri and its fan base. With both Harris and Knox in town for an official visit and Roberts and Porter Jr. already committed, the Tigers could make a real statement early in the offseason.
It’s hard to imagine one player having this big of an impact for one team, but like many have said before, the timing is right for Missouri and the dominos are falling in the Tigers favor.