As Thursday night’s NBA Draft unfolded, St. Louis hoops fans found themselves smiling early and often. Two local players, from the state of Missouri, were drafted in the Top 10 of the draft.
Otto Porter, who grew up in Sikeston, Missouri before attending Georgetown for two seasons, was selected third overall by the Washington Wizards and will join St. Louis native Bradley Beal in D.C.
Meanwhile, Ben McLemore, who attended Wellston High school in St. Louis was before starring for the Kansas Jayhawks last season, was selected No. 7 overall.
So while St. Louis smiled as a pair of local kids go early in the draft, it is hard not to think about the opportunity that was missed by the Missouri Tigers basketball program.
Both McLemore and Porter were star prep players within the borders of this state, and yet the Mizzou program could not convince either of these players to wear the black and gold.
I realize that the coaching change from Mike Anderson to Frank Haith took place during the end of the recruiting process for both of these players and Haith really is not to blame, but this has been the story with the Mizzou program for several years as the best players out of St. Louis and the rest of the state leave for other schools outside of the state.
Imagine how good the Tigers could have been, assuming Haith could have coached them, with Porter at the power forward and McLemore at the shooting guard.
How good would Porter and Bowers have been upfront? How dangerous would the Tigers have been from the outside with McLemore and Jabari Brown launching daggers from the outside with precision?
How many assists per game would Phil Pressey have averaged with these players in the mix.
But Porter and McLemore were not in the mix. Two players from the state of Missouri were drafted in the Top 10 of the NBA Draft and neither played college hoops in Columbia, Missouri.
What a shame. Why can’t Mizzou, in basketball or football, figure this out?
Haith has to land the next round of major talent to come not only out of St. Louis, but out of the state. The next player from the state of Missouri that is a lottery pick must have spent time in Mizzou uniform.
If not, this Mizzou program will never take the next step forward from being a Top 30-50 program to a perennial Top 25 power.
Congrats to Porter and McLemore for fulfilling their dreams and making it to the NBA as highly touted lottery picks.
But Mizzou fans have to be left wondering what could have been if the program was capable of landing these local products on a regular basis. Frankly, it leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
- Missouri basketball: Alex Oriakhi selected No. 57 overall by Phoenix Suns (stlsportsminute.com)
- Missouri basketball: Phil Pressey and Laurence Bowers were not selected in NBA draft (stlsportsminute.com)
- Mizzou basketball: Michael Dixon to transfer to Memphis (stlsportsminute.com)
- Missouri basketball: Tigers announce non-conference schedule for 2013-14 (stlsportsminute.com)