Matter: Gates’ initial Mizzou roster is still in flux | Mizzou Sports News

Here are the highlights from our weekly chat with Post-Dispatch readers.

Q: Seems like the floor of “at least as good” recruiting as Cuonzo Martin for Dennis Gates is being established. So I am settling in and being patient to see where this goes. How much better recruiting/talent should we expect?

A: It’s more than fair to expect better recruiting than what Mizzou produced the last couple of years — because that’s what cost Martin his job and led to the coaching change.

I’m with you in that I think it’s way too early to celebrate Gates’ recruiting efforts so far. He’s landed three players, one of whom he landed only because Aidan Shaw asked for his release after the school fired Martin. Mo Diarra could be an impact big man. Very good pickup. He addresses an immediate need. DeAndre Gholston is a solid Horizon League player, but he wasn’t third-team all-conference at Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He can definitely add some value, but I’m not sure I’d expect All-SEC production.

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Gates has been busy reaching out to lots of transfers. He got point guard Sean East, the nation’s top junior college player at a priority position, on campus right away. Two more guards are visiting this weekend, per multiple reports: The Citadel’s Jason Roche and Bellarmine’s Dylan Penn, plus Northern Iowa forward/wing Noah Carter.

Connor Turnbull, a first-team All-Metro center from Fort Zumwalt North, just dropped his pledge to Butler after the school’s coaching change and has been talking to Gates. Turnbull told me Thursday morning that he’s trying to set up a visit to Columbia for this weekend. The 6-10 Turnbull ranked second in the St. Louis area in scoring (23.5 points) this past season and was the No. 1 rebounder (12.67) and shot blocker (4.63).

Q: How many scholarships does Gates have available? The frontcourt doesn’t look bad on paper, but it seems like we need to add at least one point guard, someone who can hit 3s, and some depth down low.

A: It’s a fluid situation, so there’s really no clear-cut number. Aidan Shaw’s recommitment solves one mystery, but it’s still uncertain what happens with Javon Pickett — though it’s mildly interesting that Mizzou has removed Brookshire, Wilmore and Gordon from the online roster, but not Pickett. (More on that below.)

If you take Pickett out of the mix, Mizzou currently has six returning players: Kaleb and Kobe Brown, DeGray, Coleman, Davis, Keita. If all six return, then you’ve got at least three more additions in Shaw, Mo Diarra and DeAndre Gholston. That puts you at nine scholarships. Christian Jones signed in November but he hasn’t said anything publicly about his status since Martin was fired. If he’s on board, that gives you a minimum of 10 players — with room to add three more. The roster still needs a starting point guard—and maybe a backup point guard, too. More outside shooting has to be high on the list as well.

Q: Javon Pickett hasn’t visited anybody or announced who is interested in him or had his name associated with any school yet, has he? Does that mean anything?

A: Not necessarily. He hasn’t answered my messages either. He just isn’t the type to publicize his decisions or bask in the spotlight.

On Thursday, MU clarified Pickett’s status, somewhat: He’s still listed on the team’s online roster. The other guys in the portal (Wilmore, Gordon, Brookshire) have been taken off the roster. Some players enter the portal but still take part in team activities. Those players are staying on the public roster, I’m told. For now, if it’s certain that a player won’t return, then MU is taking that player off the roster.

Pickett remains on the roster while the other portal guys have been taken off. That doesn’t mean he’s necessarily coming back. But it obviously leaves the door open. I see some value in keeping Pickett in the program. He’s a leader, he’s widely respected and showed last year he can be a double-digit scorer. And I would imagine he’d be OK with a lesser role, too, as long as he believes it can contribute to more wins.

Q: In your opinion, should Mizzou move the opening football game against Louisiana Tech to Thursday night?

A: The Thursday game (Sept. 1) is on the table from what I understand. There are a couple of other games that night featuring Power 5 teams (Purdue vs. Penn State, West Virginia vs. Pitt) but no SEC teams. Moving to Thursday would give Mizzou a brighter national spotlight than a Saturday home game on the same day as Florida-Utah, Georgia-Oregon, Arkansas-Cincinnati, Notre Dame-Ohio State, etc.

The downside is you’re asking out-of-town fans to travel a couple of hours on a weeknight. Will it greatly impact attendance?

Mizzou should try to do things differently to build its brand, attract more eyeballs, and enhance revenue streams. This could be an answer to those challenges.

Q: What’s the last day a basketball player can enter the portal? Have you heard anything from the Brown brothers regarding their plans to stay, or not? When do you think our new coach will announce his assistants?

A: Athletes in fall sports (football) and winter sports (basketball) must notify their schools of their plans to transfer by May 1. For spring sport athletes, that deadline is July 1.

No news from Kobe and Kaleb Brown.

I was told MU could have assistants named by Thursday or Friday. Perhaps not the entire staff but some moves could be official. Cleveland State has hired Gates’ replacement — Iowa State assistant Daniyal Robinson — so that frees up Gates’ assistants who were candidates for the CSU job.

Q: In what round is Tyler Badie projected to be drafted? Any other Tigers who will be drafted in the upcoming NFL draft?

A: Middle to late rounds for Badie. It’s not a great draft for running backs, which means teams that have a real need at the position can wait and guys like Badie might not come off the board until later than usual. His team feels good about the middle rounds. He fits the modern game well and can bring a lot of value to a team that needs a dynamic No. 2 back.

Otherwise, I think cornerback Akayleb Evans will get drafted. I’d be mildly surprised if Mizzou has another draft pick. There should be a handful of free-agent signings. If these guys don’t get drafted, they’ll likely find a home for training camp: Mike Maietti, Case Cook, Keke Chism, Allie Green, maybe Kobie Whiteside, Akial Byers and a few others.

Q: Will Wade was recently fired from LSU. Sean Miller was fired from Arizona last season. Both were part of the 2017 sports corruption scandal. I remember Bill Self also being part of that scandal, yet there he was Monday night guiding the Jayhawks to another NCAA title. I am scratching my head to figure out why he’s still coaching Kansas. Kansas, of course, denies any wrongdoing, but how did they get out of penalties when LSU and Arizona did the right thing by firing their coaches?

A: I understand your frustration and confusion. But Kansas didn’t “get out of penalties.” The NCAA hasn’t imposed sanctions on any of those programs yet. Not Arizona, LSU or Kansas. They’ve just released the notice of allegations. For Arizona and LSU, that was enough to fire their coaches for cause, freeing them of having to pay their buyouts. Sometimes it’s easier to move on from an ugly situation with a clean break. Wade and Miller were winning games when they got fired but not at the level of Self. It’s a lot harder to justify firing an elite coach who’s wildly popular with his fans.

But … what Kansas has done is extraordinary: The school denied any wrongdoing, which is probably the smart move these days, but then had the audacity to file a lawsuit against the Adidas bag man, Jim Gatto, saying that he defrauded the school by paying recruit to play for the school! Gatto, by the way, is currently sitting in a jail cell, along with Adidas rep Merl Code, while Bill Self is cutting down nets. No less remarkable, you didn’t hear a single word about any of this during the championship game broadcast on Monday. It’s like it never happened.

Q: I’m turning 40 this year. Mizzou hasn’t won a team national championship in my entire life. Across Power 5 schools, there can’t be many schools with that sort of extended drought. Seeing Kansas win and Arkansas loading up, it seems I just picked an exceptionally mediocre school to support. Even if I live another 40 years, I don’t see much reason to believe a team title will come in any sport.

A: Maybe not. Then again, Mizzou wrestling and gymnastics are positioned to contend for national titles. Twice over seven years, Gary Pinkel was one win away from playing for the national championship. That alone signals that it’s possible.

Believe it or not, there are Power 5 schools with fewer national titles than Mizzou’s two (1954 baseball; 1965 men’s indoor track). Virginia Tech and Kansas State have never won a national title recognized by the NCAA. Two SEC teams have just one NCAA-recognized national title: Ole Miss (women’s golf) and Mississippi State (baseball). Three more Power 5 teams have just two: Washington State (men’s track, boxing), Texas Tech (women’s basketball, men’s track) and Georgia Tech (football, women’s tennis).

New Mizzou coach sold the Overland Park, Kansas, prospect on his coaching experience, commitment to metrics and embrace of Mizzou history.

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