Just over two months ago, the Missouri men’s basketball program had reached rock bottom. After an 8-24 campaign, the outlook for the team was bleak, but this offseason, things have started to take an upswing with the signing of four-star forward Jeremiah Tilmon Monday.
6-foot-10 Tilmon comes to Columbia from East St. Louis High School in East St. Louis, Illinois, where he starred for the Flyers’ basketball team. He was ranked the No. 43 overall prospect in the ESPN 100 2017 basketball recruiting class and the No. 6 center in the class.
Missouri recorded just two conference victories this season, which yielded a last-place finish in the Southeastern Conference standings, and on March 5, Missouri found itself without a head coach after Kim Anderson was asked to resign.
After Anderson’s exit, Missouri quickly hired Cuonzo Martin to be their next head coach. Martin immediately took off hot on the recruiting trail. Soon after hiring assistant coach Michael Porter Sr., Missouri landed the commitment of No. 1 overall recruit and coach Porter’s son, Michael Porter Jr. Later, four-star guard C.J. Roberts reaffirmed his commitment to the Tigers, and four-star guard Blake Harris committed to the program after a visit to Missouri with Porter Jr. Graduate transfer Kassius Robertson from Canisius also signed with the Tigers earlier this month.
But even with a group of new players signed, perhaps the most important block in the Missouri basketball rebuild has now fallen into place with Tilmon’s signing.
After originally signing with Illinois under head coach John Groce, Tilmon began a dramatic recruiting ordeal that began once Groce was fired and replaced by Brad Underwood. He would go on to receive a release from his national letter of intent from the Fighting Illini.
Tilmon kept his recruitment closed following his release, although Missouri emerged as the early leader thanks to a distinct connection to Martin. Martin, from East St. Louis as well, still has family ties to the area.
“It’s truly exciting to keep a young man like Jeremiah at home with Mizzou Basketball,” Martin told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “Jeremiah, as a player and person, possesses the type of skill and presence we’d like to become a staple of this program. We feel that he has the ability to become a game-changing presence on both ends of the floor.”
With Tilmon’s signing, Missouri rises to No. 6 in 247Sports’ composite team recruiting rankings, up there with elite programs like Duke, Kentucky and UCLA.
Tilmon’s signing fills a huge need for Missouri. Prior to his arrival, the team lacked a distinct post presence, but Tilmon’s size and athleticism now open up new offensive avenues for coach Martin and the Tigers to explore in the 2017-18 season.
Though Tilmon is an offensive weapon, perhaps the most value comes from his rim protection. Missouri ranked dead last in the SEC with 2.1 blocks per game in the 2016 season. Tilmon alone almost doubled that output alone, with a staggering 4.0 BPG his senior season.
Missouri returns only two players over 6-foot-9, sophomores Reed Nikko and Mitchell Smith, so Tilmon will more than likely start at center for Missouri in the upcoming season.
Tilmon’s signing marks the culmination of a wildly successful offseason for Missouri men’s basketball and the personification of a product that Tiger fans have to be excited about next season at Mizzou Arena.
Edited by Eli Lederman | firstname.lastname@example.org