Mizzou basketball tips off in less than two weeks. Let’s take a look at all of the players and positions on the roster, starting with the Tigers guards.
Mizzou basketball plans on using plenty of guards this season. The Tigers have a lot of options, so using more than two or three at a time is a nice addition for coach Cuonzo Martin this season.
Martin said he will play up to four guards at the same time this year, adding some of the new wings — Tray Jackson and Kobe Brown — fit into that guard role while they play the 4 spot. Torrence Watson and Javon Pickett are a wings who can play defense on smaller guards as well.
So knowing that, the Tigers can use many rotations night in and night out, in particular in the backcourt.
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Here’s a look at the guards on the Tigers’ roster:
Dru Smith had to sit out last season because of transfer rules. Now, he’ll likely start at point guard for the Tigers.
Smith last appeared on the court in 2017-18 for Evansville. He started 22 games and was a point machine. Smith led the Missouri Valley Conference in 3-point shooting his sophomore season, knocking 3s down at a 48 percent percentage. Mizzou could use that outside shot this season after losing last year’s top 3-point shooter in Jordan Geist.
He can play defense, too. Smith collected two steals a game two seasons ago, when he last played. In practice, Watson lauded Smith’s defense and leadership qualities, calling Smith a near-perfect player as the Columbia Missourian reported over the summer.
Behind Smith is last year’s at-times starter Xavier Pinson.
The sophomore played a lot as a freshman, starting 12 games and appearing in 31 contests — all but one. You could tell he was young, but he can be a good player here. A year of experience is just what Pinson needed and that’s what he brings to this year’s squad. He should be better equipped for SEC basketball as he moves into his second season.
The 2 guard spot will go to Mark Smith, who was hobbled throughout last season. Smith, unlike his backcourt teammate Dru Smith, was able to play immediately after transferring from Illinois. The now-junior played in 19 games last year for Mizzou, starting 16 of them. He averaged 11.4 points and 5.2 rebounds, and the Tigers missed him when he was sidelined with a foot injury.
Both Smiths can knock the ball down from the 3-point line, and Mark did it at a 45 percent rate last season. Having this tandem alone should create more problems for teams this year. But that’s not all Mizzou will be bringing with it on the court.
Freshman Mario McKinney Jr. will add depth to the shooting guard spot. McKinney was the No. 1 player coming out of high school in Missouri, and the four-star recruit was one of the best guards in the country.
McKinney, the cousin of former Tiger standout Jimmy McKinney, can play plenty of spots for the Tigers as they need depth throughout the year.
Evan Yerkes and Brooks Ford round out the guards spot for the Tigers, but it seems endless with the likes of Jackson, Brown, Watson and Pickett moving all over. Just as it needs depth, Mizzou basketball plans on using plenty of guys to stretch defenses.
It will be fun to watch as Mizzou finds out which of the guards will gobble up more of the minutes as they move through the season.