Missouri signs a trio of big men as early signing period begins
Basketball coach Kim Anderson was hoping to add size in his second recruiting class at Missouri, and he did just that by landing a pair of forwards and a true post to bolster the Tigers’ front line.
Mizzou inked 6-foot-6 small forward Willie Jackson, 6-foot-9 post man Reed Nikko and 6-foot-10 forward Mitchell Smith on Wednesday.
Anderson was thrilled about the signing of all three high school seniors.
“We’re excited about the young men who have signed their letters of intent to come to the University of Missouri to play basketball,” Anderson said in a statement. “We feel like we’ve addressed some needs for our program. One of our main goals was to recruit size. With all three guys, we’ve got some bigger players.”
Jackson is the most highly-touted of the group and his reputation as a dynamic scorer earned him offers from Wisconsin, Iowa State, Illinois and Wichita State.
The Cleveland native averaged 18 points, 14 rebounds and five assists, grabbing Cleveland.com Area Player of the Year honors as a junior. Jackson also starred for LeBron James’ AAU team, leading the King James Shooting Stars to a 13-4 record in the Nike EYBL while averaging 8.4 points and a team-high seven rebounds per game.
“Willie is a basketball player,” Anderson said. “What I mean by that is he can do a lot of different things. He’s a good defender and a guy who shoots the basketball well. He can drive to the basket. He comes from a winning program and was extremely well-coached in his high school and AAU basketball. Similar to Reed and Mitchell, he’s a person of high character who will be great for our program.”
Nikko signs with the Tigers just six weeks after committing. The 6-foot-9 big is an old-school, back to the basket post, and earned a 3-star composite rating by 247Sports.
The Osseo, Minn. product turned down in-state Minnesota, as well as Kansas State and Iowa.
“We’re looking forward to having Reed in our program,” Anderson said. “He’ll bring some size, which is something we’ll need, especially with the graduation of Ryan Rosburg. He’s a true back-to-the-basket player and has been very successful in high school. He’s continued to grow as a player every year. We feel he’ll continue to mature and become a great player in the SEC.”
Smith is perhaps the most intriguing prospect in the class.
Hailing from tiny Van Buren, Ark., he was a relatively unknown commodity, but has the skillset and length to be a versatile piece for Mizzou immediately.
Known for his work on the defensive end, Smith picked Mizzou over Arkansas and Creighton.
“Mitchell is a young man who addresses the need for more size in our program,” Anderson said. “He is very skilled and has continued to improve every year. He comes from a great high school program, and we feel like he has the opportunity to be able to contribute immediately, as do Willie and Reed.”
Mizzou will host Wofford at Mizzou Arena on Friday to kick off the 2015-16 season.