Missouri lands 4-star recruit and can now realistically aim for the NCAA Tournament
Jeremiah Tilmon's decision to join Michael Porter Jr. means Mizzou is now nationally relevant
Missouri basketball is a factor, for the first time, as a member of the SEC. And with a commitment from a key player Monday morning, the Tigers are tasting national relevance again after a long drought.
The school has announced that Jeremiah Tilmon, a four-star, former Illinois recruit who walked away after the school fired John Groce, has committed to play for the Tigers. Tilmon, ranked 39th overall, is a tremendous multiyear piece for new coach Cuonzo Martin, who has managed to reel in the No. 6 class in 2017. The idea that Missouri would have a borderline top-five class was unthinkable as recently as a month ago.
It's an astounding accomplishment, bolstered by No. 1 overall recruit Michael Porter Jr. deciding to go to Mizzou after Washington fired Lorenzo Romar. Martin, intelligently, did what Romar did: He hired Porter's father, who is a legitimate basketball coach (he previously coached women's basketball at Mizzou), to his staff.
The background on that graphic: Martin, like Tilmon, is from East St. Louis, Illinois. Tilmon is a 6-foot-10 power forward, someone the Tigers can count on for years to come (unlike Porter, who is a one-and-done and could be the No. 1 pick in the 2018 draft). Now, with Tilmon in the mix, the Tigers could have a top-five team in the SEC next season.
Tilmon and Porter are flanked by four-star point guard Blake Harris, who signed in April. And Mizzou might not be done. Porter's younger brother, Jontay, is a five-star prospect in the Class of 2018. But he's still trying to decide whether to reclassify to the 2017 class and join his brother. If that happens, Mizzou would undeniably have a top-five class heading into next season.
Martin has gotten a lot of things accomplished in a short amount of time, and with this, the fan base should be expecting an NCAA Tournament appearance next season. Of course, that is not guaranteed. Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz taught us that. Plus, Missouri will have talent but also should be relatively young. The SEC won't be a gauntlet, but growing pains are to be expected.
Fortunately, for Martin, he has a long leash. And getting into the field of 68 is an achievable goal, but even if it doesn't happen, he's got a strong freshman class to borderline ensure Missouri will be in the Big Dance by 2019 at the latest. Martin's hiring was debated because he spent three years at Missouri State, three at Tennessee and three at Cal. He's been to the NCAAs twice in nine seasons. But his recruiting and adaptability in his home area is already paying off. For the first time in a long time, Missouri is going to be one of the most interesting and talented teams in college basketball.
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