Republished from the Jefferson City News Tribune
COLUMBIA, Mo. — To say there are a few fresh faces on Missouri’s basketball team would be an understatement. The team has just four returners from last year’s team, five freshmen who will likely factor into the rotation and a new transfer from Hawaii.
Gone are Jordan Clarkson and Jabari Brown to the NBA. Earnest Ross, who along with Clarkson and Brown accounted for 70 percent of Missouri’s scoring last season, is playing in Australia. Zach Price, Torren Jones and Cameron Beidscheid were all dismissed from the team in the last year. Price and Beidscheid never even stepped on the floor for the Tigers.
Tony Criswell graduated, Shane Rector transferred, and coach Frank Haith left for Tulsa and was replaced by Kim Anderson. Needless to say, you might need a refresher. With Missouri’s regular season starting today against Missouri-Kansas City, here’s a rundown of the Tigers’ current roster.
No. 2, Deuce Bello — The top dunking talent on the team, Bello sat last season after transfering from Baylor. He also recovered from a shin injury that seems to be fully healed but causes him some residual soreness. Coach Anderson plans to try Bello out at shooting guard, small forward and power forward to make use of his athleticism and versatility. Bello, a junior, is No. 2, which should be easy to remember.
No. 3, Johnathan Williams III — Speaking of numerically convenient nicknames, Williams is regularly referred to as J3. He is the Tigers’ leading returning scorer, and he scored 5.8 points per game in 2013-14, which tells you how much scoring Missouri has to replace. He is returning from a slight meniscus tear but played in the Tigers’ most recent exhibition against Missouri-St. Louis. Williams is a big rebounding asset for the Tigers — he led the team with 6.5 per game last year — and will likely be more involved offensively this year than he was under Haith.
No. 4, Tramaine Isabell — A freshman out of the Seattle area, Isabell is one of three point guards in the mix for Missouri. Anderson has experimented with putting all three on the floor at once. Isabel isn’t afraid to put up a shot, and Anderson said he has been “brilliant” in practice at times, but he has also been inconsistent.
No. 5, D’Angelo Allen — Allen is all about defense. In fact, he said so himself: “I love defense. I don’t know why. Defense is me. That’s me. That’s D’Angelo Allen. Defense.” He probably won’t blow you away on the stat sheet, but this freshman from Dallas should be an important glue player for the Tigers.
No. 11, Jimmy Barton — A 5-foot-9 transfer from Houston Baptist, Barton won’t play a ton, but the St. Louis native did score more than 1,000 points at DeSmet High School and earned all-state honors his senior year.
No. 12, Namon Wright — A freshman from Los Angeles, Wright was one of the key transfers that Anderson held onto after taking the job. Anderson said he hopes to include Wright, a 6-foot-5 guard, more in the Tigers’ offense. He averaged 24.2 points and 9.4 rebounds his senior year at Pacific Hills High School and was considered a top-100 recruit.
No. 13, Montaque Gill-Caesar — He prefers his birth name in print, but everyone calls this 6-foot-6 freshman guard “Teki” (pronounced “teck-ee” ). Gill-Caesar might be the face (and name) you need to familiarize yourself with quickest, as he looks to be the primary scoring threat for the Tigers headed into the season. Anderson has encouraged him to be more aggressive with the ball, and Gill-Caesar led the Tigers with 19 points in their most recent exhibition.
No. 14, Keith Shamburger — One small autocorrect away from “Keith’s Hamburger,” this Hawaii transfer felt like he was a part of a trade, as Missouri players Negus Webster-Chan and Stefan Jankovic transferred to Hawaii during Haith’s tenure. One of two seniors on the team, Shamburger figures into the point guard rotation and adds a ball-handling threat when head point guard Wes Clark is also on the floor.
No. 15, Wes Clark — Speaking of Clark, he presumably has nothing to do with the Wes Clark Auto Sales on Missouri Boulevard. He is the vocal leader of this Missouri team and seems to have matured drastically since his freshman year, when he was suspended during the National Invitation Tournament after being arrested for misdemeanor possession of marijuana. He played significant minutes last year, but don’t be surprised if he looks like an entirely different player in his sophomore campaign.
No. 23, Jakeenan Gant — Clark has been imparting that maturity on the freshman group, who he said is already much more prepared than he was a year ago. But there still have been mistakes. Gant, along with Allen, was arrested on suspicion of third-degree assault, and the two players were temporarily suspended but have since been reinstated. Gant was another important recruit for Anderson to retain. The 6-foot-8 forward was one of 21 players to participate in USA Basketball’s U18 national training camp.
No. 42, Hayden Barnard — Another probable benchwarmer, Barnard is a 6-10 redshirt freshman from Aurora, Ill. If injuries affect Missouri’s big men, however, it could prove necessary for him to step up.
No. 44, Ryan Rosberg — Rosburg said people keep mistaking him for a senior, which makes sense. With all the changes within the program, it seems like he has been at Missouri forever. This is actually his third season. Rosburg will likely be the starting big man for the Tigers, which is important, as Anderson’s offense will go through the post much more than Haith’s did.
No. 45, Keanau Post — Post will hope to live up to his surname his senior year. He has looked uncomfortable so far this year, a trait he noticeably lacked in his junior season. The 6-foot-11 forward will likely be just as important a part of the team as Rosburg, especially if early indications of improvement are anything to go by.