After practice one week before the season opener, junior forward Kim English couldn't hide his excitement about the Tigers' newcomers.
“If you could construct a perfect Mike Anderson point guard, it’d be Phil Pressey,” English said. “Coach did a good job of recruiting instinctive guys and guys who fit what we want to do.”
Freshman Phil Pressey, a highly recruited guard from Texas, is just one of a few new players that coach Mike Anderson brought in to bolster his team’s strength. Anderson also recruited junior college transfers Matt Pressey and forward Ricardo Ratliffe. Ratliffe was the top junior college recruit in the nation after setting multiple records at Central Florida Community College. After a couple games of exhibitions, Ratliffe said he’s starting to get up to speed.
“It’s been pretty good, just getting used to the style and speed of play,” Ratliffe said. “It helps me get used to things like rotation and getting used to playing behind a big crowd. I think they said last game there were maybe 8,000 (people), and I’m only used to playing with 1,000, and that’s on a good night."
Unlike most new players, Ratliffe comes in with experience from playing at the junior college level for two years. Anderson said experience with a higher level of competition benefits both the player and the team.
“I think it gives them that adjustment period quicker than the freshmen,” Anderson said. “And that’s important for junior college players, because there’s a sense of urgency, they don’t have too many years left. We brought him here hoping he’d be an impact player, and hopefully he’ll be an impact player.”
As for the Presseys, their transition to Missouri was made easier by their relationship with Anderson. Their father, former NBA player Paul Pressey, was Anderson’s roommate in college. The two used to call Anderson their uncle growing up, and English said familiarity would help the brothers out in the long run.
“I think that’s one of the biggest factors in their college choice," English said. "They knew coach Anderson wouldn’t just feed them the ‘recruit talk’. He would talk with them straight up -- they’ve known him their entire life. So they can really come in and truly focus on basketball, without having to read if the coach likes them or not.”
But Anderson downplayed his influence on the two, praising them for taking direction and focusing on their game. Anderson also said if the newcomers are going to make an immediate impact, the veterans will have to step up.
“I think the most important guys in terms of carrying out what we’ve been doing for the last two years are the veterans,” Anderson said. “I think they’ve got to lead, and they’ve got to show these (new) guys the way. I think the more the new guys pick up things, and then the better off we’ll be.”