Happy Thursday - we think? - my quarantining chatters. I'll be here to take your questions for the next couple hours. It's NFL Draft day. Finally, some sports, sort of. You most likely won't hear any Mizzou names called until Friday's portion of the draft. Let's get this thing started.
It's been a tough few weeks for the recruiting efforts. There are still some appealing transfer options out there whom Mizzou has contacted. The point guard from Hawaii, Drew Buggs, isn't much of a shooter but he's a pass-first playmaker. Gardner Webb guard Jose Perez would be a solid get, though he'd have to sit out a year unless the NCAA moves fast on first-time transfer waivers. Same for Francis Okoro from Oregon. Still some promising options out there, but there's no way to sugarcoat how the recruiting cycle has unfolded so far.
If I thought she should be number 3 then I would have ranked her number 3. Sophie is probably the best player in Mizzou WBB history - Joni Davis and Renee Kelly are in the argument, too - but she never led her team to a conference or national championship or was a finalist for national player of the year. Five of the six ranked ahead of her on the list either won an individual championship (or multiple championships) or won major individual awards at the conference or national level. The one exception was Brad Smith, who was a transcendent player who entirely changed the direction of the most visible program on campus. Sophie's teams were consistently good and always relevant, but it should be noted, never made it past the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament. Other MU women's hoops teams made it farther.
I'm not qualified to make those kinds of predictions. I would hope non-profit athletics departments that don't have to pay taxes would receive bailouts. They can find ways other ways to save a lot of money. Maybe stop rewarding football assistant coaches with 40 percent raises when you win seven games and make the Liberty Bowl. Missouri's not the only program that spends exorbitantly on salaries, but there are plenty of places where they can trim fat before having to, A, cutting non-revenue sports programs, and, B, accepting federal bailouts.
He was one of the best linebackers in the country as a first-year starter. I would think he'll have a great chance to be a high NFL pick next year. Now, maybe some teams will flag him for the same reasons some Power 5 teams overlooked him in high school. He's not very tall and not terribly fast. But he's got the chance to become an elite college linebacker despite not owning some of the flashiest measurables.
Is that accurate? In the official records I checked he never scored a touchdown on a punt return in the NFL. He threw one TD pass in the NFL - in 2010 with the Jets - but he never returned a punt for a TD. He only has two punt returns in his NFL career. He was a kickoff return guy.
Thanks for the kind note. There are a lot of common themes with these athletes, especially the ones in the top 10. Not all of them were highly touted recruits, but most of them became not only their team's most successful athlete they were also the hardest workers and set countless examples for teammates, older and younger teammates.
Yep, he and Keyon Dooling were really close to making the list. Gilbert over Dooling because he contributed longer to the program and became the team leader on an Elite Eight team. The decision essentially came down to Arthur Johnson vs. Gilbert for No. 30. I went with Doc because he's the program's career leader in blocks and rebounds and a top-10 scorer and in a small class of the most productive big men in team history. Gilbert scored a lot of points, made a lot of 3s and reinvented himself as a point guard as a senior, but I just thought Johnson was more consistently productive, especially early in his career.
Lots of love for Gilbert today. Like I wrote earlier, he was No. 31. He shot a lot and scored a decent amount but one knock on him was he wasn't a very efficient player. He took A LOT of shots. He ranked first and third in the Big 12 in shot attempts as a junior and senior but was never a 40-percent shooter from 3, which is the line of demarcation that separates the very good from the great shooters. Again, he was really close to making the cut.
I'm aware of all of that and I understand your argument, but, again, I couldn't justify putting any of the top six players behind Cunningham on this list. Scherzer, perhaps. But he was the Big 12 pitcher of the year in 2005 and without a doubt one of the elite players in all of college baseball. I don't think you can say the same for Cunningham. She peaked her senior year as a third-team All-American but nobody talked about her as being the absolute very best at her position in the entire sport. Their credentials are close when I measured up their careers and that's probably why they're back to back on the list.
Speaking of Stipo, did everyone catch him on the Pacers during the second episode of "The Last Dance"?