Missouri basketball lands major target Mario McKinney

The four-star combo guard announced his commitment on Twitter Monday night over six other finalists.
Photo via Twitter/@Boog341 Twitter

The game has come to be known as a classic in the St. Louis prep sports community.

Vashon and Webster Groves would each go on to win state championships in their respective MSHSAA classes, but school size prevented them from meeting in the playoffs. So while the two nationally acclaimed high school basketball programs clashed in a February game that served as the unofficial decider of state authority for 2017, another story played out in its shadows. Kevin Butler, a senior guard for Webster, was deliberately matched against his cousin when they were both on the floor.

Asked to recall the matchup now, Butler trails off quickly.

"Oh, man..."

Butler's cousin – and headache for the night – was Vashon standout Mario McKinney. A four-star combo guard and now a senior at Vashon, McKinney announced his commitment to Missouri on Monday night via Twitter, getting the Tigers' 2019 recruiting class started with a splash. McKinney was a priority target of Missouri coach Cuonzo Martin and represents another important milestone for the program as it stakes its claim to St. Louis area recruiting.

"He reminds me of [Russell] Westbrook," Butler said.

The 6-foot-2 St. Louis product chose the Tigers over Auburn, Kansas State, Louisville, Oklahoma State, Iowa State and Virginia Commonwealth. He announced his commitment in a video on Twitter around 6 p.m. Monday.

McKinney took an official visit to MU earlier this month with fellow major 2019 target, Belleville West forward E.J. Liddell. They each attended Missouri’s football game against Wyoming on Sept. 8. It was the only official visit McKinney made.

"I think [the family] kind of knew that he kind of fell in love with Mizzou," Butler said. "Everyone kind of knew."

McKinney played for Bradley Beal Elite over the summer, averaging 7.8 points per game in the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League against some of the top high school players in the country. He averaged 17 points, six rebounds, four assists and two steals per game his junior season for Vashon, earning second-team All-Metro honors. The Missouri Basketball Coaches Association named him a Class 4 all-state player.

As he enters his senior year at Vashon, he will aim to add a third Missouri state championship to his resume.

"His ability to get to the rim is amazing," Butler said. "His first step is super quick. And he’s now developed a three-point shot. I'm gonna try to make every game. I'm so excited. I told him, 'Hey, try to get me back in at Missouri. Help me get in, I'm willing to be the manager of the basketball team just to watch every game.'"

McKinney is also the cousin of former Missouri standout Jimmy McKinney, who also attended Vashon. The elder McKinney averaged 9.3 points per game over his career at Missouri, which spanned from 2002 through 2006.

Mario McKinney's commitment means Missouri now has 11 players on scholarship for 2019. Walk-on Parker Braun is likely to ultimately become the 12th.

This story will be updated with quotes and information as it develops.

Edited by Bennett Durando | bdurando@themaneater.com

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