Mizzou's hoops recruiting class to include two Top 100 players
Gant, Wright give Mizzou a strong 2014 basketball recruiting class all by themselves
By NATE LATSCH FS Midwest
Frank Haith inherited a bit of a roster rebuilding project when he was hired as
Missouri's basketball coach in 2011, but he has proven adept at restocking the Tigers' talent base with transfers and high school prospects.
Mizzou is expected to sign two Top 100 prospects -- power forward
Jakeenan Gant and shooting guard
Namon Wright -- during the early signing period, which begins Wednesday.
Scout.com rates the Tigers' two-man recruiting class as the 22nd-best among college basketball programs and the third behind only Kentucky and Florida among Southeastern Conference teams.
"I think it's a good group for Frank Haith," Scout.com national recruiting analyst Evan Daniels said Monday night. "They pulled in two Top 100 players last year and they are going to get two more this year. They needed a good guy on the interior and a good guy on the wing, and I think they accomplished both of those needs."
Current freshman power forward Johnathan Williams III was ranked 34th nationally in the Class of 2013 by Scout.com, while freshman point guard
Wes Clark was ranked 86th.
Gant is a bouncy 6-foot-8, 200-pound power forward from Springfield, Ga., who is rated as the 13th–best prospect at his position and the 53rd-best overall prospect in the senior class.
"Jakeenan Gant brings athleticism, energy, rebounding," Daniels said. "He packs a lot of punch at 6-7. I think he's a guy that's going to help them at the power forward spot. I just like how hard he plays. He's a tough kid. He gets up and down the floor and can finish around the basket."
Gant, who turned down scholarship offers from Syracuse, North Carolina State and Georgia Tech among many other suitors, looks like he'll quickly become a fan favorite at Mizzou Arena.
"Gant should soar immediately upon arriving in Columbia," Scout.com recruiting analyst Rob Harrington wrote in late October. "Yes, he needs to gain strength and, yes, he must improve his dribbling -- particularly with his left hand -- but he's so athletic and such a great fit for Missouri, he'll shine in the Tigers' full-court game immediately."
Gant would add his athleticism to Mizzou's mix in the post that includes Williams III, current juniors Keanau Post and Zach Price and sophomores
Ryan Rosburg and Stefan Jankovic.
Wright is a 6-foot-5, 185-pound shooting guard from Los Angeles rated by Scout.com as the 11th-best prospect at his position and the 60th-best overall prospect in the senior class.
a 6-5 wing with very good athleticism," Daniels said. "He has the potential to be a very good defender down the road. His shot has been a little inconsistent over the past year, kind of up and down on the offensive end, but he has the ability and he has nice potential."
Haith will add Wright to the backcourt mix that includes shooting guards Jabari Brown and Jordan Clarkson, both juniors. Deuce Bello, a shooting guard who transferred from Baylor, is sitting out this season but will be able to play next year.
Haith missed out on shooting guard Devin Booker, son of former Mizzou All-American Melvin Booker, when the high schooler committed to Kentucky over Missouri in late October.
The Tigers have only two seniors this season in Earnest Ross and Tony Criswell, so it's possible Haith and his coaching staff will add another player -- via high school, junior college or Division I transfer -- to this recruiting class over the next few months.
"It doesn't appear that they are heavily in pursuit or in good position with any of the available Top 100 players," Daniels said. "That doesn't mean they are done recruiting. There's only 10 Top 100 players available and probably five or six of them are going to come off the board in the next 10 days."
You can follow Nate Latsch on Twitter (@natelatsch) or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.