Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Missouri Lands Two More For '09 Class

Mike Anderson isn't done with his '09 class at Missouri, landing two more bigs: 6'7" swing man Tyler Stone and 6'9" Jonathan Underwood. Both of them fit Anderson's style of recruit in a number of ways. First of all, they're both long and athletic, and can play Anderson's high tempo system. Their height is especially important because Missouri loses so much size to graduation this season (I'll get to that in a moment). Second of all, neither is a true blue chip recruit, and I say that in a positive sense: they'll be around for four years. Missouri brings in quality players that stick around for four years so that they can develop in Anderson's system, which is complicated and requires a patience and maturity that very few players have as Freshmen. A one-and-done player won't have as much success in Anderson's system as they would in other places.

Missouri naysayers argue that they'll fall back into mediocrity next season because they lose so much to graduation. And they certainly do lose a ton: DeMarre Carroll, Leo Lyons and Matt Lawrence all started last season, and all graduate. They were also Missouri's three highest scorers (J.T. Tiller leads the returners, with 8.4 points per game last season).

That said, J.T. Tiller and Zaire Taylor are both very important returners, and both will be Seniors able to bring a lot of experience and leadership to the table. Missouri will also look to a quartet of players who got extended time off the bench as true Freshmen this past season: Kim English, Marcus Denmon, Keith Ramsey and Miguel Paul. What I really like about the way that Anderson has developed this young class of kids is that they are all similar to graduating players, with Anderson clearly picking out each individual player to step in to a specific role. English in a 6'6" swing guard, in the mold of Lawrence. Ramsey is a tall, athletic forward in the mold of Carroll and Lyons. And Denmon and Paul are guards who will back up Tiller and Taylor this coming season and will be ready to move into the starting lineup in 2010-11. Also look to Justin Safford and Laurence Bowers to get time at the forward position this coming season.

This new incoming Freshman class reminds me a lot of last year's class in that you have a bunch of quality recruits that will be there for the future. I wouldn't expect any of them to get a ton of time as Freshmen, and they should spend much of the year developing like last year's quartet. One thing you'll notice from the previous paragraph is that the graduating Seniors are disproportionately big men, while the upcoming Sophomores and Juniors are smaller. That is why Anderson's '09 class is heavy on big men, including the two new signees, Stone and Underwood.

I do think that Missouri will take a little step back this coming season because they will be younger and slightly less talented than last season. But I do expect them back in the Tournament. In my '09-'10 previews I picked Missouri fifth in the Big 12, and gave them an 8 seed in the Tournament. Because these two new recruits are pretty much just going to be stockpiled for the future, they won't affect anything for now. But even though Missouri probably won't be heading back to another Elite Eight in 2010, they do have a very nice core moving forward. I've been a big fan of Mike Anderson since his days at UAB, and Missouri fans are very happy that he's still their head coach.

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