Drew Buggs was brought to Mizzou to stabilize the point guard depth and free up other guards to carry the scoring load. How did he fare?
In the words of the great Michael Corleone…
Except we won’t be talking about old Italian crime families today. No, after the briefest of respites from talking transfers who are leaving the Mizzou Hoops family, we got word earlier this week that there’s another player who will finish his career away from Columbia. This time, much in the same vein as Mark Smith, Drew Buggs hit the portal for what will be his post-post graduate season.
Buggs only played one season for Mizzou, but he left a big impact while he was here… at least in the conversations he forced Tiger fans to have. Buggs filled a very specific role for the Tigers, but found himself in the middle of a controversy in the last game of the season, as Cuonzo Martin opted to play him over Xavier Pinson in the Tigers’ first round NCAA loss to Oklahoma.
So what was it about Buggs that made Martin trust him in those crucial minutes? Let’s take a look at the numbers and figure it out. Like usual, we’ll be running through the good and the bad of Buggs’ season, as well as looking at what could come next for the point guard.
If you want to catch up on the previous posts in this series, you can click any of the links below:
What went well?
Looking at the pure numbers… not so much! Buggs wasn’t the picture of efficiency at Hawaii, and his offensive numbers weren’t done any favors by playing in the SEC (though he was slightly better in conference play). But for all intents and purposes, Buggs did the job he was brought into the program to do — stabilize the ball-handling and run the offense in brief spurts. Buggs’ assist and turnover numbers aren’t pretty, but they actually got better in conference play and flipped against KenPom Tier A opponents. There were certainly times where Buggs looked a little outmatched, but when he was put in positions to succeed, he largely did what the staff assigned him. He also seemed to bring some locker room cohesion to a team desperately needing an NCAA bid.
What didn’t go well?
It’s not hard to figure out. Outside of the intangibles and the backcourt depth, Buggs simply wasn’t a very dynamic player who met some of Mizzou’s biggest needs. He was never much of a shooter in Hawaii, but he had easily his worst offensive season from three, two and the free throw line. He posted career lows in rebounding and assist percentages, while turning the ball over more often than ever in his career. While there were nights where Buggs played an important role in a win, he simply didn’t have the impact you may expect from a graduate transfer.
Interestingly enough, Drew entered the transfer portal, which isn’t 100% surprising, but it is interesting. I said on twitter that I would have been open to the idea of bringing Buggs back, mainly because I liked him as a player, a teammate, and he provides a really good knowledge base. But I’d imagine Drew got what he wanted out of his year in Columbia, and the Tigers largely got what they thought they’d be getting. A solid, if unspectacular, point guard who can run the offense.
I’d be surprised if Buggs didn’t end up somewhere on the West Coast, back closer to home, and in a position where he can help a mid to low major. I realize Buggs caught a fair amount of flack from fans for his lack of offense, but he’s a ball mover, not a shot taker. He’s the career leader in assists at Hawaii for a reason. So he’s really useful, but you can’t strand him out there with non-scorers or it might get a little ugly.
For Missouri, I suppose they wanted fewer road blocks to the younger players they have coming into the program. It’s easy to fall back on old reliable, but it’s also going to be an important growth year for players like Jarron Coleman, Amari Davis, and Anton Brookshire as they embark on more primary ball handling responsibilities.
But regardless, I think you tip your cap to Buggs on his season and what he brought, you shake his hand and pat him on the back. And wish him good luck. If he gets into coaching, I think he’ll have a good future.
— Sam Snelling