Mizzou Monday: No certainties among Tiger hopefuls in NBA Draft

The NBA Draft is upon us. When the 60 names
are read Thursday night, here are the three former Tigers hoping
to make the cut: point guard Phil Pressey, center Alex Oriakhi and
forward Laurence Bowers.

Last week, we talked to NBA scouts about Pressey’s chances,
and they explained why he’s projected as a second-round candidate, at
best. According to mock drafts, neither Oriakhi nor Bowers is expected
to be drafted.

But, as an NBA scout reminded me recently: “Only one team has to like you.”

These
three have worked hard in the offseason, attending in-house workouts
with plenty of teams. If they convinced one they’re worthy, they could
break into the field of 60.

Mizzou head coach Frank Haith, who has taken calls from NBA teams for each of his three Tigers, offered his own analysis of the trio during Monday’s SEC summer teleconference.

“In Phil’s case, the biggest thing is that he’s got to be who we all know Phil to be, and that is a playmaking point guard.” Haith said.  I think if Phil gets out of that element and tries to be something else, maybe, say, like a Nate Robinson, I think he struggles.

“Alex has really done well in his workouts. He’s had some really good ones. It’s always good to have one thing you do great, and if Alex would just be a tremendous rebounder and position defender, I think he’ll have a chance to make a roster.

“Laurence is kind of a tweener because he’s caught in between positions. He’s got the size of small forward in that league, and he’s probably not quite the skill-set or mobility-wise of a small forward. But he’ll find a way to play somewhere, I believe that. He’s a determined young man, and I think he’ll have the opportunity to hopefully play on a summer league team to prove he’s capable of playing out there on the perimeter.”

Oh, one more thing.

If a Mizzou fan wants something to get riled up about, track these names during the draft: Otto Porter and Tony Mitchell.

Porter
is the star Georgetown small forward who is NBA-bound after his
sophomore season. The 6-foot-9, 200-pound prodigy from Sikeston, Mo.,
was leaning toward Mizzou before Mike Anderson took off for Arkansas
without telling him. At least, that’s the way Porter recently explained
it to Stu Durando of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Porter
is now the top-rated player at his position in the draft, and has been
discussed as a potential No. 1 pick. He will always make Mizzou fans
wonder, “What if?”

And then there’s Mitchell, who was one of
Anderson’s top targets before the NCAA said the 6-9, 236-pound power
forward couldn’t become a Tiger due to a questionable transcript.
Instead, he played for North Texas, where he averaged 13 points and 8.5
rebounds. He’s expected to be a late first-round to second-round pick.

ANOTHER HAITH ASSISTANT

The Frank Haith assistant coaching carousel has spun again, and former Drake head coach Mark Phelps is the next man up.

“It goes without saying, but I have a great deal of respect for Coach Haith and how he runs his program,” Phelps said when he was hired last week. “He has distinguished himself as one of the elite coaches throughout his climb in our profession.”

Haith has also distinguished himself as a head coach who finds himself hiring a lot of assistants.

Phelps (77-86 during five seasons at Drake) is the seventh assistant coach Haith has had since coming to Mizzou in 2011. Short-timers now gone include Issac Chew (left for an assistant job at Illinois), Ernie Nestor (left for assistant job with Navy), Ryan Miller (left for associate head coaching job at Auburn) and Rick Carter (left for assistant job at Xavier).

What does that mean?

Coaches will tell you it’s a good thing when assistants leave for better gigs. When a bench guy lands a head coaching job, or a top assistant role at another school, it reflects well on the team (and coach) that sent him in the right direction.

But, some of the jobs Haith’s previous assistants have jumped ship for have been lateral moves at best.

Phelps is supposed to be a great recruiter. Maybe he will stick around long enough for folks to find out.

GIBSON’S DEBUT

When former Mizzou pitcher Nick Tepesch was named the Texas Rangers’ fifth starter this season, part of the surprise was that Tepesch beat former Tiger Kyle Gibson to the show.

Now, both will be in the league.

The Minnesota Twins have called up Gibson, and he will make his first start Saturday against the Kansas City Royals at Target Field.

Gibson, 25, is 7-5 with a 3.01 ERA in Triple A this year. He started the season as the 68th-best prospect, according to Baseball America.

EXTRA CREDIT

The term “student athlete” is often mocked, and sometimes deservedly so.

But thanks to the annual release of the Academic Progress Rate, the Mizzou athletic department deserves a pat on the back.

The APR is a metric that measures eligibility and retention for college athletes. The most recently available info, which tells us about the 2011-12 school year, made Mizzou look good.

Four Tiger teams led the SEC in APR, including Gary Pinkel’s football players, who turned in a score of 982. The Tigers can’t brag about much in the football-frenzied conference, but they have this. Even if Alabama won’t admit it yet.

TWEET OF THE WEEK