Look at that happy family! …Or not. That's the 2014-15 Mizzou basketball team picture, and every guy with a red circle around him is finishing/finished his college career at another school. After escaping the clutches of Kim Anderson's stagnant program, those False Sons have actually played extremely well, by and large.
Given the recent news that both of Mizzou’s freshman point guards (Blake Harris and CJ Roberts) will transfer, I finally put my writer pants on and got around to something I’ve wanted to look at for awhile – an analysis of all of the ex-Mizzou players littered throughout college basketball. Most of them have been extremely productive at their new stops, further underscoring the “Kim Anderson Was Actively Sabotaging His Alma Mater” narrative that’s consuming Tiger Nation (ok, it’s not, he was actually just a catastrophically bad Division I coach).
I’m mainly going to focus on the players that are currently active, but for the sake of completeness (and to crank the frustration meter to maximum), I’ll hit on a few additional ex-Tigers who found success outside of Columbia, MO (aside: I will never call it CoMO, you can’t make me).
Just because we can (and the players lend themselves to it), let’s look at this in terms of an actual basketball lineup:
PG – Wes Clark, Buffalo – 18.8ppg, 1.6rpg, 5.8apg, 2.0spg
Clark was arguably the most accomplished of this group while at Mizzou, although that’s like saying he's the most sane and grounded Bachelor contestant. Clark never had an O-rating over 95 during his three years in Columbia (100 is considered average), and he never truly lived up to his potential before being kicked off the team for “academic failures.” His career for the Tigers ended on a gruesome broken elbow in 2016, and he wasn’t eligible at Buffalo until midseason this year, but he’s been superb through five games for the heavy MAC favorites.
SG – Tramaine Isabell, Drexel – 18.6ppg, 7.7rpg, 2.7apg, 1.6spg – highest usage player, playing 39-40 minutes per game
Isabell was largely a non-factor in Columbia, and his frustrating inconsistency seemed a clear explanation for that. Ultimately, though, Kim wasn’t using him correctly (shocker) – Isabell has re-invented himself as a true power guard in the CAA, ranking an impressive 7th in the entire conference in rebounding at 7.7 per game and attacking the rim like a bulldog with the ball in his hands. Anderson used him mostly at point guard (or simply sat him on the bench), neutering his ability to attack off the dribble from the wing.
SF – Namon Wright, Colorado – 12.1ppg, 3.9rpg, 1.1apg, 0.6spg
Wright is a lanky wing shooter who has found success playing in an offensive system that isn’t completely and utterly terrible (shocking!). He’s scoring both inside and out, and he’s taking the second-highest percentage of any team’s shots (28.0%) in the entire Pac-12 in conference play. Oh yeah, and they just knocked off Arizona and Arizona St. in back-to-back games…both better wins than any Wright was a part of at Mizzou.
F – Jakeenan Gant, UL Lafayette – 15.9ppg, 7.1rpg, 1.1apg, 2.2bpg
One of the more highly-regarded recruits of the Kim era, Gant never put it together in Columbia and struggled mightily against higher-level competition. He (seemingly) smartly recognized this, and he’s now terrorizing the Sun Belt on offense (71% from 2-point range) and defense (leads the league in blocked shots). Plus, his team is excellent – KenPom favors them to win the conference title by 2 games, and they could be a serious problem for teams come March.
F – Johnathan Williams III, Gonzaga – 14.5ppg, 7.3rpg, 1.5apg, 1.1bpg – highest usage player, had 39 against Florida, stud for WCC favorite
Many Tiger fans lamented that JWIII was starting for a national championship runner-up last year as the Zags blitzed opponents en route to a 37-2 season, and rightfully so – like so many other transfers and redshirt freshmen, Williams blossomed after a year learning under Mark Few, serving as a crucial role player and sometimes-star (he torched Xavier to help Few earn his first ever Final Four berth). Williams continued expanding his game this season, as his 16/22, 39-point explosion against Florida proves, although his production has dipped as Gonzaga has gotten into its annual “murder WCC opponents by 40” rhythm.
Bench 1 - Teki Gill-Caesar, San Diego St. – 4.3ppg, 2.1rpg, 0.6apg, 0.3spg
Teki has easily been the biggest disappointment of this group, both at Mizzou and even moreso at his next stop in sunny San Diego. After re-classing into the 2014-15 recruiting class, he’s never gotten settled into the college game, which means he kind of defeats the purpose of this article, so let’s move on.
Bench 2 - Willie Jackson, Toledo – 6.3ppg, 5.0rpg, 0.3apg, 0.3spg, 0.3bpg
It all started so promising. Jackson was a key role player at the start of the 2016-17 season, contributing as a versatile defender and hustle rebounder while the Tigers nearly beat Xavier. His playing time descended into the low teens for a team that lost at home to NC Central and Eastern Illinois, though, and he transferred closer to home in the MAC, where he’s playing a similar role for the contending Rockets.
KJ Walton – sitting out at Ball State - "Keej" never really reach his potential, but I'd wager on him averaging double figures for an uptempo Cardinals' offense next year in the defense-ignorant MAC.
Frankie Hughes – sitting out at Duquesne - we'll always have the 47 points in two games to start 2016-17!! And conveniently forget about the 27% season-long shooting from deep. He's another one who should thrive in his new situation, playing for an excellent mid-major coach in Keith Dambrot.
D’Angelo Allen – at William Penn but not playing - eh, honestly who cares?
Others (not Kim players)
Just to add a little more insult to this list, here’s a few additional players who succeeded in their post-Mizzou careers:
F/C – Stefan Jankovic, Hawaii – 15.6ppg, 6.6rpg, 1.2apg, 0.6spg, 1.2bpg – Jankovic won the Big West Player of the Year and an NCAA Tournament game while at Hawaii. Fun fact: that NCAA Tournament win was over current Mizzou coach Cuonzo Martin!
F - Torren Jones, Fresno St. – 10.5ppg, 7.9rpg, 0.7apg, 0.8spg, 0.6spg – Jones was a force in the Mountain West - at least, until he was dismissed from the team. I'm gonna give Kim a pass here.
G - Shane Rector, Utah St. – 8.0ppg, 2.1rpg, 2.4apg, 1.0spg, 0.4bpg – Rector became the primary ball-handler for a forgettable Mountain West team - not a giant loss. Weird place for a kid from the Bronx to end up, though.
G/F – Negus Webster-Chan, Hawaii – 8.3ppg, 4.3rpg, 1.5apg, 0.9spg, 0.2bpg – Negus was an enigma - he got some playing time as a freshman for Frank Haith, then transferred west and played well for Hawaii, then went...pro? He's now hanging out back home, north of the border, nursing an injury for the Toronto Raptors G-League team.
So on a rough tally: 6 guys unequivocally did better after leaving Mizzou (Clark, Isabell, Wright, Gant, Williams, Jankovic), and another 3 did about as well (Jackson, Rector, Webster-Chan). We'll call Jones a wash (he played better, but again, he got booted), and Gill-Caesar is purely a disaster for the Aztecs (a disAzter, if you will). TBD on the guys sitting out - but ultimately, I feel pretty comfortable concluding that the weight of leaving a Kim Anderson-coached team does wonders for players.