Missouri basketball: Two Tigers find their way to the NBA

Missouri basketball fans didn’t have anything to cheer about at the NBA Draft, with not a single Tiger name being called. But now, Jeremiah Tilmon and Dru Smith have given them a reason to smile.

Tilmon was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Orlando Magic, joining the team alongside 2021 March Madness standout Jalen Suggs and Michigan star Franz Wagner.

Tilmon is the third Missouri basketball alum to ever play for the Magic. Troy Hudson, who spent one year at Missouri before transferring to Southern Illinois, played for Orlando from 2000 to 2002. Keyon Dooling was drafted by the Magic in the first round in 2000, but didn’t play for the team until 2005.

Tilmon joins a struggling Orlando team that finished 21-51 last season. With young stars like Markelle Fultz, Mo Bamba, and newly drafted Jalen Suggs, Tilmon joins a core of unproven players with a high ceiling.

Dru Smith also signed as an undrafted free agent, joining the Miami Heat. The Heat opted not to acquire any draft picks this year, and have since signed 8 undrafted free agents, including Smith.

Smith joins a Heat team who looked to be a strong contender after their NBA Finals appearance in 2020, but were swept in the first round of the 2021 playoffs by eventual champions Milwaukee.

With a stacked team featuring stars like Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo and Victor Oladipo, it may be awhile until Smith gets to see meaningful playing time.

Smith is the third Tiger to ever play for the Heat. Missouri basketball legend Jon Sundvold showed off his talents in South Beach from 1988 to 1991, and Keyon Dooling played for the team from 2004 to 2005.

Tilmon and Smith join Jordan Clarkson and Michael Porter Jr. as active Missouri basketball alumni in the NBA. Porter’s brother Jontay had been with the Memphis Grizzlies, but was waived by the team on Friday.