(Photo Credit: Jim Brown- USA TODAY Sports)
Another big time high school basketball recruit is leaving Missouri to play elsewhere. This afternoon four star combo guard Jimmy Whitt, who attends Hickman high school in Columbia, Mo. passed on Missouri and made his verbal commitment to play at Arkansas next year.
Whitt said his decision came down to Arkansas and Missouri and cited his relationship with Arkansas head coach Mike Anderson was a big reason he chose the Razorbacks over the Tigers. Whitt is the top rated player coming out of the 2015 class and chose to make his decision now to avoid stringing along the other teams.
While it’s hard to see a player walk out of your own backyard to play elsewhere, it does not discredit the summer turn around Missouri head coach Kim Anderson has brought to the team since taking over the reigns this past April.
When coach Anderson took over this team he wasn’t stepping into an ideal situation. However he started off in the right direction by convincing key recruits Namon Wright and Jakeenan Gant to honor their commitments and remain at Missouri for the upcoming season. That set the foundation for better things to come throughout the summer.
Anderson’s biggest move throughout all this in my opinion is the people he chose for his coaching staff. Keeping Tim Fuller on board to help with recruiting was an easy choice as he’s built a lot of relationships with players over the years. Both Wright and Gant said their relationship with Fuller was a big reason they chose Missouri in the first place. The big move of the summer though came when former Huntington Prep coach Rob Fulford was named as the final assistant. The addition of Fulford was enough to convince Huntington Prep star Montaque Gill-Caesar to reclassify into the 2014 class and commit to play at Missouri for the upcoming season.
The addition of Gill-Caesar has the potential to pay huge dividends for the Tigers down the road. Take one look at his highlight tape (Montaque Gill-Caesar Highlight Tape) and you’ll see just what I mean. The 6’6” guard from Ontario has the ability to drain the outside shot as well as attack the rim. The late addition is certainly a blessing for a team that needs impact players.
Of the current roster, only four players saw action last year under Frank Haith. Johnathan Williams III and Ryan Rosburg are the only two returning starters, while the other eligible players are all new.
A fresh group of faces seems fit after the disastrous season the Tigers encountered a year ago. And following the dismissals of Zach Price and Torren Jones let’s hope these guys can stay out of trouble as well. The current state of the team looks better than what I’d have predicted a few months ago. A new coach, new players, and a new season wait for the Tiger basketball team. Let’s hope Anderson can teach these guys to work as a team and find success together rather than as individuals.