posted on May 05, 2011 09:05
Frank Haith has been on the job at Missouri for just about a month now. Already, widespread panic has started to set in among Mizzou fans. The most common cause? No commitments in the 2011 recruiting class.First and foremost, let me say this: Frank Haith deserves zero blame for this. If he can deserve less than zero blame, he does.
Mike Anderson did a ton of very good things for Tiger basketball. The shape in which he left the program—and more specifically the 2011 recruiting class and the distribution of scholarships—is nothing short of horrendous.
But the fact is, this is Haith’s program now. So to answer that question, why no commitments? Both Haith and his assistants have told me, “We’re not going to take a guy just to take a guy.”
And that’s the right approach. Haith has an NCAA Tournament capable team for next year right now. Off of last year’s squad, he loses only Justin Safford who was, last year, a role player at best and a non-factor at worst. Haith isn’t recruiting for next year. Assuming Laurence Bowers (nearly certain) and Kim English (likely) return, Haith brings back all but one contributor from last year. He replaces Safford with Kadeem Green. I don’t know how good Green will be, but I think he’s going to be at least as good as the 2010-11 version of Safford.
In addition, Anderson HAD to have ten players capable of playing to run the way he wanted to run. Haith doesn’t. Most good teams have no more than eight players who get meaningful minutes. Marcus Denmon, Bowers, English, Mike Dixon, Phil Pressey, Ricardo Ratliffe. There’s your top six. Throw in Matt Pressey, Steve Moore, Green and Ricky Kreklow and Haith already has two more players than he’s likely to use in meaningful spots. So anyone he adds this year isn’t going to be asked to help much next year.
That explains the approach. The Tigers are looking at transfers (Isaiah Philmore from Towson is in town right now, rumors persist about former WakeForest player Tony Woods who is now at JeffersonCommunity College in Kentucky). They are looking at a forward who might add some toughness (6-7, 230 poundCharlotte, NC prospect Jervon Pressley is on an official visit). They are looking at a big man who would take a year or two to be ready (6-foot-11 Matt Gorski from Richmond, VA is talking to the Tigers).
No, it’s not going to be a star-studded class. There aren’t stars out there right now. In the late signing period, the kids that are available are available for a reason. Either they have qualifying questions, they have some off-court baggage or they just flat out aren’t high-level players. So why load up on kids like that for next year when you don’t need to?
Sure, it would be a boost for Tiger fans to add a couple players in this class. And, at some point, Haith will. He will end up with two or three guys who will fill roles on his future teams. But the real work on the recruiting trail surrounds the 2012 and 2013 classes.
Going into the 2012-13 season, the Tigers will have only Phil Pressey, Dixon, Kreklow, Green and anyone Haith signs this year. The 2012 class will define Haith’s career at Missouri. The Tiger staff has been all over the country looking at kids in this class. Some are very well-known (Rodney Purvis decommitted from Louisville, might be the best junior guard in the country, and was recruited by Tim Fuller; Winston Shepard is a top 40 player who just picked up an offer). Some are in-state guys without quite as much glitz (Ryan Rosburg, Jordon Granger, Cameron Beidscheid and Shaquille Harrison to name a few).
Haith was touted as an elite recruiter when Missouri announced him. Fuller is a star in the assistant coach ranks. Isaac Chew has valuable ties to the state and the area. The first month being uneventful shouldn’t have anyone questioning whether these things are true. The truth of those things will be proven over the next 12 months. Missouri basketball is at a crossroads. The 2012 recruiting class will determine the path down which Haith takes his first big steps.
Gabe DeArmond is the publisher of PowerMizzou.com, the Missouri site on the Rivals.com network. You can read his daily coverage of the Tigers online at http://missouri.rivals.com and download weekly podcasts at http://powermizzoupodcast.podbean.com/ or by searching “powermizzou” in the ITunes store.