Wasn’t it just January when Mizzou men’s basketball was D.O.A. and figured to be mediocre under a rebuilding project for years to come?
It’s amazing what a new head coach’s connections and another head coach getting fired can do for your program.
Cuonzo Martin’s hiring and Lorenzo Romar’s subsequent dismissal by Washington breathed new life into Mizzou hoops in a hurry, with former Huskie recruits Michael Porter Jr. (perhaps you’ve heard of him) and Blake Harris jumping ship to Columbia along with blue chipper Kevin Knox.
Hiring former Romar assistant Michael Porter Sr. no doubt helped Porter and Harris’ decisions to become Tigers, but the two were going to play college ball together no matter where according to Harris.
“We said we were going to be a packaged deal and go to college together,” Harris recently told The Fast Lane. “When I committed to Washington, he committed to Washington. When he went to Missouri I knew that was always an option and Coach Martin and [Porter Sr.] recruited me really hard. Michael [Jr.] was a big factor.”
A big factor indeed. With Martin as new head coach one figured Mizzou would be on an uptick, but how long said rebuild would take was anyone’s guess.
We’re not ready to crown the Tigers national champs just yet, but the new personnel has certainly changed their 2017-2018 over/under. The fact Harris and Porter Jr. have melded just sweetens the deal.
“We’ve played twice so far. We played at [an All-American] camp and we played in an open gym at Washington. At the camp was a connection like a love at first sight,” Harris said. “We did great…And then at Washington, there were five recruits so me and Michael and three others played the Washington players and we beat them. Me and Michael couldn’t be stopped so we have a good connection.”
Harris’ recent Mizzou campus visit cinched his decision after students made he, Porter Jr. and Knox feel rather welcome by chanting and hanging signs bearing his name and jersey number. The incoming freshman said the passion he saw paired with his fellow incoming freshman are what sealed the deal.
“I haven’t seen a fanbase like that in my life…I was with Michael and Kevin, so we’re all pretty close. We’re all good friends. So that was really cool…I just love the coaching staff, the facilities, the players…Everything just felt perfect like I was at home.”
As far as next season, Harris’ goal puts his youthful energy and optimism on full display.
“I’m a competitor so I want to go undefeated and win the National Championship…I want to win the regular season SEC, the SEC tournament and the National Championship.”