Xavier Pinson signs letter of intent, talks future at Missouri

“The plan is to basically come in and make an impact right away,” the three-star point guard and new Missouri signee said.
Three-star 2018 recruit Xavier Pinson signs his letter of intent to play for Missouri, April 11, 2018. Photo courtesy of @xpinson3 via Twitter

Xavier Pinson didn’t have a moment to lose after signing his letter of intent to play college basketball at Missouri this morning. The Simeon Career Academy senior had two tests to take.

After those were out of the way, Missouri’s newest class of 2018 signee finally had time to soak it in.

“I made the right decision,” he said in a phone interview. “I’m really excited to be a part of the program next year, and I can’t wait to add to the tradition.”

The three-star point guard out of Chicago made it official on the first morning of the college basketball signing period, joining a Missouri recruiting class that includes Torrence Watson, K.J. Santos and Javon Pickett.

Pinson committed to Missouri on Feb. 5, choosing the Tigers over Dayton, Georgetown and Wisconsin. He made the announcement two days after visiting Columbia and seeing the Tigers take down No. 21 Kentucky in front of a sold-out Mizzou Arena.

“Just that atmosphere, it's a real good atmosphere,” Pinson said. “They have a good, supportive fan base, and I will love to be a part of that.”

Pinson said he looks forward to being a part of Cuonzo Martin’s 2018-19 team just as much as he looks forward to that atmosphere. Even with Martin still eyeing other class of 2018 point guards and with Jordan Geist returning for his senior season, Pinson expects to be an instant role player.

“The plan is to basically come in and make an impact right away,” he said.

He thinks that will be best achieved with his passing ability.

“My key strength that I can use now is facilitating,” Pinson said. “I see things that a lot of people can’t see. Although Mizzou struggled with the point guard this year, next year you’ll see more people like Jontay [Porter], if he comes back, and Jeremiah [Tilmon] able to get the ball a lot more because of the facilitating that I can do.”

Martin also acknowledged that ability in his statement on the signing released by Mizzou Athletics this morning. He said Pinson is “an elite passer who is always looking to get his teammates involved.”

The 6-foot-2-inch point guard averaged 3.8 assists per game in his senior season to go along with 11.8 points per contest, but he stressed his need to size up more this offseason in preparation for the transition to the college game.

“I don't know the exact weight or frame yet, but I just know that I need to get stronger so I can take a bump,” Pinson said. “Defensively, I gotta get prepared to guard grown men and stay in front of them. It’s not like high school.”

He said he has had chances to learn that from some of the best. Simeon has become one of the most-established high school hoops programs in the country over the years, and Pinson’s head coach Robert Smith also mentored Simeon greats such as Derrick Rose and Jabari Parker.

Pinson also has had chances to hear from Missouri players. He said throughout recruitment he especially appreciated talks he had with Tiger freshmen Michael Porter Jr., Jontay Porter and Jeremiah Tilmon.

“As far as Jontay, he’s just happy I’m coming because he likes the way I play,” Pinson said, “and Jeremiah, he tells me that he believes I’m gonna be a real special player next year.”

If Porter goes through with his decision to declare for the NBA draft, Missouri will have three open scholarships left to offer ahead of next season. Whether or not Porter returns, Pinson is excited about his relationship with the rest of Missouri’s incoming class.

“I have a lot of conversations with the new players like Torrence,” he said. “We’ve played in a few of the same camps before, but growing up in high school during AAU season, we played each other a lot.”

Said Pinson on Watson and the others in the class: “They all have a lot of talent. I feel like no one’s selfish and everyone’s bought into Cuonzo’s plan for next year’s season, so I feel like we have a big opportunity to be special just like last year’s team.”

Watching that team go to the NCAA Tournament reaffirmed Pinson’s confidence with his choice. As the pieces fall into place for the 2018-19 Tigers, getting back to the tournament is ultimately the premier opportunity he hopes to take part in, too. He’s confident Martin can help guide them back there.

“I feel like that was just the first run for Coach, and I feel like he was just getting his feet wet,” Pinson said. “But I feel like next year he’s going to know everything, the tools and keys that we're going to need to win and get further than just the first round.”

Edited by Joe Noser | jnoser@themaneater.com

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