Recruiting

If McKinney picks Mizzou on Monday, what could that mean for Belleville’s EJ Liddell?

Belleville West senior EJ Liddell is making an official visit to the University of Illinois this week.
Belleville West senior EJ Liddell is making an official visit to the University of Illinois this week. dholtmann@bnd.com

Well, I woke up about a half hour ago and wasn’t expecting to be starting the column off this way.

But I’m glad it happened because now we have even more to talk about.

And ... here ... we ... go.

One of Missouri’s top basketball recruits for the 2019 class, Mario McKinney, will announce his commitment at 5 p.m. Monday. He just told me it will be on Twitter and not in a ceremony at his school.

I really like Missouri’s chances here. McKinney hasn’t taken a visit to any other school since his official visit to Mizzou and I’d be surprised if he picks any other school.

Assuming he commits on Monday, we’ll break down his commitment next week. I don’t want to call my shot and then ground out to first. But, we can ask what this means for E.J. Liddell.

Liddell begins his final official visit to Illinois and I expect him to commit within the next few weeks. There’s a lot of debate as to where the players currently stand for Liddell. Some have said recently that Ohio State is slipping as Mizzou’s challenger in favor of Illinois.

I can say confidently that from Ohio State’s side, it appears the Buckeyes still look at Missouri as the main challenger. From Missouri’s side, the feeling appears mutual. Illinois has brought in a lot of bigs on visits, which makes it hard to argue that the Illini are prioritizing Liddell.

This conversation isn’t involving Missouri. The Tigers remain firmly in the mix for Liddell. In the short term, it would be good news for Mizzou if he leaves Champaign this weekend without committing or setting a commitment date immediately after.

Landing McKinney, a fellow Brad Beal AAU player, wouldn’t hurt the Tigers’ chances either.

2020 basketball targets

The basketball staff was on the road this week watching some 2020 guys and one of their stops was at Christian Brothers College for Caleb Love.

Love is the perfect guard for Cuonzo Martin’s idea of “positionless basketball.” He can play both guard spots, is tough as nails and very crafty around in getting to the basket.

The Tigers have also been in Michigan for Mann’s recruits, around the state for players like Love and Cam’Ron Fletcher but not out West, which has some worried.

Well, a source tells me that next week, Cuonzo Martin will be in Los Angeles to watch 2020 five-star guard Josh Christopher. Christopher’s cousin is Martin’s longtime strength coach Nicodemus Christopher. Nicodemus can’t go on the road with Martin, but he is a huge part of all of this.

Assuming Martin makes it out west next week, I plan to get Christopher to see his latest on visiting Missouri.

Alex Schiffer covers University of Missouri athletics for The Kansas City Star.
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