Missouri basketball: Cuonzo Martin offers recruits a hard sell

Dec 3, 2016; Berkeley, CA, USA; California Golden Bears head coach Cuonzo Martin reacts in the game against the Alcorn State Braves in the first period at Haas Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 3, 2016; Berkeley, CA, USA; California Golden Bears head coach Cuonzo Martin reacts in the game against the Alcorn State Braves in the first period at Haas Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports /

As with any sport, recruiting is a game in itself. There’s the pitch, the closing, and the fluff in the middle. What does Missouri offer one recruit that another program can’t?

A fanbase always wants what’s best for its team. Coaches want what’s best for their teams, too, more importantly because their livelihoods depend on the success of the program.

We all want bragging rights, not to mention championships — the yardstick that measures a team’s success.

Missouri Tigers Basketball
Missouri Tigers Basketball /

Missouri Tigers Basketball

I posed the question earlier, ‘What does Missouri have to offer that another program may not?’ Opportunity.

Taking basketball into consideration, as it is the hottest topic in town, Mizzou has a limitless supply of opportunity to offer recruits who are sitting on the fence trying to decide.

A program like Carolina, Duke, or Kentucky (among others), have been to the big dance on many occasions. They are the gold standard that every team wants to be. They are the “old money” in the basketball neighborhood.

Recruits are lining-up to be the next to play in programs rich in history from which legends have been created.

With the notoriously successful programs that are among annual championship discussions, Missouri is a program on the outside looking in. In recent history, truer words were never spoken. Theoretically, Mizzou is still the black sheep. In Missouri’s case, beauty comes from within.

Programs with success and the talent to show for it, have the luxury to choose who to make offers for, and who to really pitch a great sale to. Missouri has to work for its due.

What I see in coach Cuonzo Martin, is someone who portrays the qualities of a young Mike Krzyzewski: A disciplinarian with an eye for talent from the unlikeliest of prospects. He works hard and is involved throughout the recruiting process with any prospective athlete.

In his earlier years, Krzyzewski used to recruit in Alaska. Alaska! While Martin has not matched Krzyzewski’s tenacity in recruiting in the unlikeliest of places, Martin has recruited the unlikeliest of recruits. Athletes who, ordinarily, would not give the Tigers a second thought.

Give a nod to the younger Porter son, who has also had his hand in recruiting efforts for Mizzou; but for Martin offering Michael Porter, Sr. an assistant coaching position, it’s not likely we would see the Tigers in such a fortunate position.

Missouri offers young, talented recruits an opportunity to make an otherwise unlikely program great, while allowing ample time to showcase their talents to scouts.

With programs like Carolina and Duke, athletes are surrounded by talent. The next man up may be as talented as the one who is coming off the floor, but in that moment, may not be the perceived best on the team.

At Missouri, the athletes in the 2017 recruiting class are assembling a core of talent. They won’t play all the time, but they will play a lot of the time, and right away. Instant starting time is not easy to come by in other programs. In fact, it’s rare.

While Mizzou doesn’t offer the rich history and heritage that other programs have built, it still offers a rich history. Playing for the Tigers should not be perceived as a slight to one’s athletic abilities or talents.

Recruiting targets Kevin Knox and Jeremiah Tilmon will thrive in Missouri’s system, alongside commits Michael Porter, Jr., Blake Harris, CJ Roberts, and eventually Jontay Porter.

In addition, Missouri returns its “guard” from 2016, which will benefit from the talented recruiting class assembled this year. Those with strong talent in one area, will make those with talent in other areas look better.

I think we are witnessing something more significant than a flash-in-the-pan season for Missouri. The commitments that the Tigers have received so far, the commitments that are pending and yet to come, along with the talented athletes who are transferring into the program, is setting Mizzou up for seasons of success.

In the dawn of the 2017 season, we are witness to a balance of powers at Missouri. Typically, while one program excels, another may falter. This year, we could see football and basketball succeed simultaneously; a luxury not too many programs can boast.

With the recruiting class that has been assembled, thus far, by coach Martin, Missouri basketball is on the right path to becoming one that will reload. The fact that Mizzou basketball is in rebuild mode bodes well for prospective recruits to come and make their mark.

Next: Jontay Porter may reclassify, commit to Missouri