Pingeton, Martin hit and miss on top prospects heading into season

Both the men’s and women’s teams have earned one commitment from the class of 2020.

Missouri began its college basketball seasons last week, with the women’s team tipping off on Nov. 5 with a win over Western Illinois and the men’s team doing the same one day later against Incarnate Word.

Naturally, men’s basketball coach Cuonzo Martin and women’s basketball coach Robin Pingeton have been very busy in the past couple months. Most of their energy has presumably been spent preparing their current rosters for their upcoming slate of games, but it’s also very much worth taking a look at what they have been doing to build their teams for the future.

So far, two recruits have agreed to become Tigers in the fall of 2020 — one for each team. Pingeton brought in four-star center Jayla Kelly from St. Louis, while Martin acquired a 7-foot-2 giant at the same position in three-star Maryland native Jordan Wilmore. They committed on Sept. 22 and Sept. 30, respectively.

Kelly’s skill set is best summarized by one word: post. According to ESPN’s Dan Olson, she does all her work inside, whether it be scoring in the paint with a variety of back-to-the-basket moves or gobbling up rebounds. Olson also described her transition game as “mobile,” meaning she moves well up and down the court for a center. ESPN rates her as the No. 9 center and No. 79 player in the class, as well as the second-best recruit from Missouri in the country.

Wilmore is four inches taller than anyone on the Tiger’s current roster, and he figures to fight for minutes right away. He will not take the starting role from incumbent Jeremiah Tilmon, who was recently named second-team All-SEC, if Tilmon chooses to stay for his senior year. However, he could contribute off the bench or in a big lineup combination in his freshman year.

The event from recent weeks with much more fanfare than the commitments of Kelly and Wilmore was undoubtedly a disappointing outcome for Missouri: five-star point guard Caleb Love’s commitment to North Carolina. The Tigers had been named one of his final two options on Sept. 25 before he chose the Tar Heels on Oct. 1.

Martin, however, has another shot at a monumental commitment that could make up for not getting Love. California’s Joshua Christopher, ranked as the No. 11 player and the second-best shooting guard in the country, has the Tigers in his top five.

Christopher would be a stunning get for Martin, as top recruits from California generally don’t consider spending their college basketball careers in Columbia. His cousin, Nicodemus Christopher, is Missouri’s men’s basketball director of athletic performance, which may have been a factor in Christopher putting Missouri in his top five along with UCLA, Michigan, Arizona State and Kentucky.

247Sports.com rates Christopher as one of the best scorers in the nation. The chances of a Missouri commitment seem slim, but they’re enough to give fans hope.

Other 2020 prospects on the men’s side who have offers from Missouri and are uncommitted include three-star small forward Jermontae Hill, four-star center Xavier Foster and four-star shooting guard Moses Moody. The only women’s recruit currently considering the Tigers right now is three-star guard Myra Gordon.

Edited by Emily Leiker | eleiker@themaneater.com

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