Recruiting Notebook: 2014 and beyond

Tigers lose out on shooting guard, make cut for on big man.

While Frank Haith’s squad is still a week and a half away from its first scrimmage against Oklahoma City, the Missouri basketball program was on both sides of the unpredictable recruiting world this past week, receiving good news on one target while losing out on another.

Hill commits to Marquette

The two biggest Missouri targets left on the board going into the weekend were Ahmed Hill and Devin Booker. Hill is a Georgia native who played on the same AAU team as Tigers commit Jakeenan Gant and was supposed to take an official visit to Missouri the first weekend of November. Instead, Hill pulled the trigger for Marquette while on an official visit there this weekend. Many thought that the Tigers had a solid chance at landing Hill because of his connection to Gant, but others saw him as a backup option in case Booker committed elsewhere.

Booker set to visit this week

Speaking of Booker, the five-star shooting guard will be in Columbia this weekend for his official visit to the school. By now everyone knows the back-story with Booker. His father, Melvin, was an All-American at MU back in the 1990s and led the school to the elite eight during his time in the black and gold. Recruiting analysts believe Booker is a done deal to Kentucky, but Haith is known for his ability to swing decisions. A little-known fact about Haith is that while he was an assistant at Texas, he was one of the main recruiters who helped land Kevin Durant; Haith knows how to reel in the big fish. He will have his work cut out for him to convince Booker to follow his father’s footsteps.

Thomas names top 24

One of the Tigers’ top targets in the 2015 class is center Elijah Thomas. Thomas is a consensus top-10 player in the class and recently cut his list to 24 schools. Missouri made the cut. While most recruits tend to cut their lists to a much smaller number, when you’re a prospect getting calls from more than 50 coaches all over the country, you have to start somewhere. Thomas took an unofficial visit to Missouri last summer, which is always a great start when trying to land a prospect of his stature. With schools like Duke, Kentucky and North Carolina also on the Texas native’s list, the Tigers will have to duel with the big dogs to land the 6-foot-10-inch big man.

The Take

With the Tigers all out of scholarships, they’d have to do some adjusting if they want to make room for Booker, which they’d do in a heartbeat. Booker, considered the best three-point shooter in the nation, along with his family ties to the school, would be a huge recruit for Haith to land and an instant fan favorite because of his father. That being said, if the Tigers miss out on Booker, that will likely wrap up their recruiting class for 2014. The only other way the Tigers will land another player besides Booker, is if a player decommits in the spring because of something like a coaching change, which would allow the Tigers to put their name in the running. Haith did this last year with freshman point guard Shane Rector, a Rutgers commit until the Mike Rice scandal unfolded, which caused him to decommit.

Other than that, look for the Tigers to move on to 2015 where they will have four scholarships to fill. One is taken by home-stater Ronnie Suggs. One of the Tigers biggest targets isn’t too far away from the school as Columbia’s own Jimmy Whitt, a point guard who attends Hickman High School is considered to be the state’s top player for 2015.

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