We’re not expecting a big class, but this is a good start.
Friday nights at Rock M Nation are usually fairly quiet. But we were all on pins and needles waiting for announcements from 4-star Texas Running Back Tavorus Jones and East St. Louis combo guard Christian Jones.
As we waited on the former, the latter bumped up his timeline by an hour and suddenly we were publishing back to back pieces within 9 minutes of each other… all while I was out walking our dogs. It was actually really nice out last night, so well worth the stroll. Meanwhile, Eli Drinkwitz continued his incredible hot streak of unprecedented recruiting.
And a stealthy Cuonzo Martin did his thing. He got the commitment of an unheralded recruit who could be on the precipice of a breakout on the recruiting cycle. Christian Jones has no rating on Rivals or 247sports. His Rivals profile lists him at 6’4 and 170 lbs, but we’ve caught wind he’s actually up to 6’6 and around 190 these days. But Jones has barely been seen by scouts, having just this season joined up with the Bradley Beal Elite grassroots program, and he’s playing scant minutes on a fairly stacked roster.
But talk to scouts and you get a consistent refrain, one that seems obvious if you watch the film (entire games are out there online). What you see is a player who is scratching the surface on the type of player he can be. He’s got great length, and handles the ball well. He possesses a compact jump shot with a quick release and little wasted motion. Those are the things you hope can translate to the next level. But this is certainly the kind of recruit we’ve become accustomed to Martin landing.
I mentioned last night on twitter, Jones reminds me a lot of Trevon Brazile. Not in his skill set, but in his recruitment. Missouri got in early on a guy when other high major schools were just starting to sniff around. They found a player in their backyard (literally Martin’s old stomping grounds) and offered first and closed the deal before others had a chance to get their footing. Brazile had several other high majors checking in when he shut things down and picked Mizzou, and it feels a lot like the same situation with Jones.
Maybe fans who don’t pay as close attention will be unimpressed, but the ceilings on guys like Brazile and Jones are that of someone like Josh Richardson. An overlooked recruit without a flashy ranking who ends up being an elite player.
TO THE GRAPHIC
There’s still a remaining scholarship open this year, and Martin has hinted at possibilities of still adding a 13th player, but until it happens it’s difficult to project. We’ve talked in the past about a potential need for another ball handler or a post, and the pickings are slim. But Kevin Obanor hopped into the portal and he certainly could fill a need as a pick-and-pop five.
But Jones doesn’t fill a need for this upcoming season since he’ll be playing his senior year at East St. Louis High. He’s basically taking Javon Pickett’s vacated scholarship once he graduates after this upcoming season. With the import of the three juniors and one sophomore transfer, and five freshmen signees for 2021, there isn’t a lot of room available in the 2022 class.
My guess is Mizzou will likely take one or two more players at most, and then work it out in the spring if needed. I’d say the two very clear targets at the top of the board are Aidan Shaw and Chandler Jackson, and I feel certain Mizzou would welcome both if they wanted to sign on. Both Jackson and Jones are ball handling guards with good size, but both are very different players. Jackson is a bit more polished and ready to help out right away, Jones has perhaps a higher ceiling but will need some seasoning.
And don’t forget about Mark Mitchell (I mean, you probably can but we’ll keep mentioning him until Missouri is officially out).
This is a look at the roster by position for the 2022-23 season. You can see why Zo might be interested in filling in a Point Guard (Jackson) and a Wing (Shaw). There’s enough size up and down the roster where you probably don’t have to chase a big, unless one pops up and wants to play along. But it’s clear what Martin and his staff is trying to build and that’s a fluid roster with a host of skills, and one that can truly play that sought after style… pace and space!
Christian Jones is just another step in that run towards a different type of play. While Cuonzo has always favored bigger guards, he’s now building a roster full of length and athleticism, and hopefully the most important part… of shotmaking.
Shaw and Jackson (and Mitchell for that matter) are up next.