#33 Missouri Men's Basketball 2017-2018 Preview

Missouri Tigers
2017-2018 Overall Rank: #33
Conference Rank: #5 SEC
Missouri Logo
Missouri has had a rough three-year stretch, as they have failed to win more than 10 games since 2013-14. This season, the Tigers have reason for optimism with a new head coach and a loaded freshman class. Cuonzo Martin takes over the helm, and he brings with him top-5 recruit Michael Porter. Michael’s brother, Jontay, and Jeremiah Tilmon will also come to Missouri as top-50 recruits. Missouri hasn’t made the NCAA Tournament since 2013, and the new arrivals have brought high expectations with them. Porter and Martin will look to avoid the misfortunes of recent top recruits Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz who went to struggling schools and failed to lift their teams to the postseason.
2016-17 Record: 8-24, 2-16
2016-17 Postseason:
Cuonzo Martin
Coach Record:
0-0 at Missouri, 186-121 overall
Who’s Out:
Missouri will be without four of their top eight scorers from last year. Promising young guards Frankie Hughes and KJ Walton elected to transfer once Martin took the head coaching job. Hughes played 19.3 minutes per game as a freshman, averaging 7.6 points and 2.6 rebounds. Hughes got off to a scorching start, dropping 20+ points in the first two games of the season, but struggled with his shot as the year went along. Walton started 17 games as a sophomore and averaged 6.7 points and 3.3 rebounds. Walton struggled with efficiency as well, shooting just 39% from the floor. Russell Woods was the lone senior on the Tigers last year and has now graduated. Woods started all 32 games, averaging 6.7 points and 4.3 rebounds.
Who’s In:
Missouri’s projected improvement all stems from their new arrivals, headlined by Michael Porter. Porter is regarded as one of the top three freshmen in the nation. Porter originally committed to Washington, but changed to Missouri when his father joined the Tigers as an assistant coach. Porter is a 6-10 forward with NBA-level skills. Jontay Porter, Michael’s brother, reclassified to the class of 2017 to play with his brother this season. Jontay is also a five-star prospect, ranking in the top-25 nationally. Jeremiah Tilmon adds to the Tigers stacked recruiting class as a four-star, top-50 prospect. Tilmon is a 6-11 center who will play alongside the Porter brothers in the post. Kassius Robertson joins Missouri as a grad transfer from Canisius. Robertson led his team in scoring last season with 16.1 points per game while shooting 41% from behind the arc. Missouri also adds a couple of freshman guards in Blake Harris and C.J. Roberts. Harris is a four-star prospect who was ranked just outside the top-100. Roberts is a three-star recruit and was ranked in the top-200 nationally.
Who to Watch:
The Tigers return four of their top five scorers from last season. Jordan Barnett led Missouri with 12.2 points per game in 23 appearances. Barnett shot 58.6% from inside the arc but just 30% from three-point range. Kevin Puryear was right behind Barnett with 11.8 points per game, and he averaged a team-high 6.0 rebounds. Puryear also had inefficient shooting numbers at 40.9% overall and 32.3% from three. Terrence Phillips averaged 10.4 points, 4.4 assists, 3.7 rebounds and 1.4 steals. Phillips continued the trend of poor shooting numbers, with a 36.5% field goal percentage. The Tigers will hope the new additions can help the returning players with their efficiency. Jordan Geist, a junior college transfer, had a solid NCAA debut campaign averaging 7.0 points, 3.0 rebounds and 2.0 assists.  Cullen VanLeer started 17 games as a sophomore and averaged 5.6 points, 1.8 rebounds and 1.3 assists. Reed Nikko played in 28 games as a freshman, averaging 2.5 points and 2.3 rebounds. Mitchell Smith will be back after he tore his ACL 11 games into his freshman season.
Final Projection:
Missouri is one of the more interesting teams on paper heading into the season. The Tigers have obvious talent with the additions of Michael and Jontay Porter along with three other impact freshmen. However, teams such as LSU and Washington have had disappointing seasons trying to rebuild through one-and-done top prospects. Cuonzo Martin was in a similar situation at California two seasons ago with Jaylen Brown and Ivan Rabb, but he was still able to lead that team to the NCAA Tournament. If Martin can bring together all the talent at his disposal, then the Tigers will have no trouble making the postseason.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA Tournament
Projected Starting Five:
Terrence Phillips, Junior, Guard, 10.4 points per game

Kassius Robertson, Senior, Guard, 16.1 points per game (at Canisius)
Michael Porter, Freshman, Forward, DNP last season
Jontay Porter, Freshman, Forward, DNP last season
Jeremiah Tilmon, Freshman, Center, DNP last season
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 69.2 (267th in nation, 13th in conference)

Scoring Defense: 72.9 (196, 9)
Field-Goal Percentage: 39.3 (337, 14)
Field-Goal Defense: 42.8 (118, 12)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 7.0 (209, 6)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 30.4 (332, 14)
Free-Throw Percentage: 68.3 (240, 11)
Rebound Margin: -2.9 (283, 14)
Assists Per Game: 12.1 (269, 12)
Turnovers Per Game: 12.0 (77, 4)
Madness 2018 NBA Draft Rankings:
#1 Michael Porter

Madness 2017 Men’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#1 Michael Porter
#42 Jeremiah Tilmon
#119 Blake Harris
#140 C.J. Roberts