COLUMBIA, Mo. — A video of Washington Wizards All-Star Bradley Beal preaching to his AAU team went viral recently as the St. Louis native urged his young hoopers to stop thinking about individual stats.
“How many college guys you know average 20 (points) a game?” he asked them. “How many? None. NONE!”
Well, there are a few, Bradley. Mizzou just got one.
Newly committed transfer Isiaih Mosley, fresh off averaging 20.4 points per game as a junior at Missouri State, gives new Tigers coach Dennis Gates one of the nation’s most prolific shooters and checks a much-needed empty box on Mizzou’s offseason shopping list. Mosley ranked 15th among all Division I players in points per game last season and is the highest-scoring player to switch teams this offseason. Only four players from high-major conference teams averaged more points per game. Mizzou’s last player to average 20 points per game? Kareem Rush, way back in 2000-01, when he averaged 21.1.
But what exactly are the Tigers getting in Mosley, the 6-foot-5 Columbia native? This week we posed that question to several coaches around the Missouri Valley Conference, and with the promise of their anonymity, they shared their thoughts.
People are also reading…
“Isiaih is a fantastic scorer at all three levels and unbelievably efficient in doing so,” one MVC head coach said. “Weakness would be defensively.”
We’ll get to the defense later. But first the offence. Mosley is the rare high-scoring guard who thrives in the mid-range. He’s efficient at the rim (59.8% at the basket last season, per Hoop-Math.com) and deadly from 3-point range (42.7%), but 46% of his field goal attempts came on 2-point jumpers. And he made 50% of them.
“Mosley is one of the most gifted scorers in the country,” another MVC head coach said. “Extreme shot-maker in every way. He’s great at driving right and scoring a ton that way and has a great step-back left to counter going right. He’s always looking to score.”
“When he gets going, he is about as hard to stop as anybody — even in their NIT game against Oklahoma,” a longtime MVC assistant said. “They wore down Missouri State in the second half, but (Oklahoma) couldn’t do anything with him in the first half.”
Mosley put on one of his many scoring clinics against that coach’s team — Mosley had 20 games with at least 20 points this past season — and in that matchup, the opponent had one last resort.
“When he gets going like that we just basically said, ‘Force him to go left and drive it all the way to the rim,’” the coach said. “But when he puts it in his left hand he’s got a very good step-back 3 that he’s a high percentage on. So we tried to force him left and drive. We did not execute that very well.”
But will all that scoring translate against better players in the Southeastern Conference? Mosley played just one game against a high-major conference opponent the last two seasons, the aforementioned NIT loss to Oklahoma. Against the Sooners, he scored 28 points and yanked 10 rebounds off the glass.
A veteran MVC assistant doesn’t expect the upgrade in competition to throw off Mosley’s production.
“I really think his offensive game is going to translate,” he said. “He’s got great size for his position and can score in a variety of different ways.”
When some mid-major players transfer to a higher caliber of conference they struggle against the better athletes, but the MVC assistant noted that Mosley’s game isn’t built around raw athleticism.
“That’s not really how he scored,” the coach said. “He uses physicalness on drives. He hits the 3, the step-backs. He’s got a little floater. He was just born to score. He can score the basketball. I think what he’s going to have to do different at Missouri — and I know Dennis will get him to do this — is he’s gonna have to play harder at the other end on defense.”
That’s a common comment among MVC coaches. It wasn’t for a lack of ability, but several coaches noted that Mosley exhausted so much energy on the offensive end, he could get exposed on defense.
“He is the guy we tried to attack on their team,” an MVC head coach said. “He’s an NBA-level scorer when he’s locked in goal will need to improve his effort and toughness on the other end to reach his potential.”
“He had to carry a high load on the offensive end with (Gaige) Prim,” one assistant said, “so we tried to at least make him guard as much as possible on the other end.”
“I think they asked him to do so much on offense, he just wasn’t always engaged on defense,” he added. “I think that was more game planning. I think that they needed him to do that on the (offensive) end.”
This year’s Braggin’ Rights Game will be more like the Transfer Bowl. By one measure, Missouri and Illinois extracted more quality from the transfer portal than any teams in the country. Among the many data-driven rankings on his web site, statistician Evan Miyakawa slots Illinois and Mizzou Nos. 1 and 2 on his transfer portal class rankings. Louisiana State, West Virginia and Florida round out the top five.
Illinois has added just three Division I transfers to Mizzou’s eight, including walk-ons, but two were among the top-ranked players available. Miyakawa ranks new Illinois wing Matthew Mayer (Baylor) the nation’s No. 1 transfer and Terrence Shannon Jr. (Texas Tech) at No. 4 overall.
Missouri’s roster will feature four players who led a Division I team in scoring last season: Mosley, Cleveland State’s D’Moi Hodge (15.4), Milwaukee’s DeAndre Gholston (14.3) and returning forward Kobe Brown (12.5). Northern Iowa import Noah Carter (15) ranked second on his team in scoring.
Here’s where he ranks Mizzou’s eight Division I transfers, including two walk-ons: Mosley No. 15, Nick Honor (Clemson) No. 51, Hodge No. 97, Carter No. 128, Tre Gomillion (Cleveland State) No. 155, Mabor Majak (Cleveland State) No. 487, Gholston No. 725, Ben Sternberg (Cleveland State) No. 921.
The top-ranked transfer still available is also from Illinois: guard Jacob Grandison. Former Texas guard and Webster Groves star Courtney Ramey is rated the fourth-best available transfer.
Former Mizzou coach Quin Snyder, 55, stepped down as coach of the Utah Jazz after eight seasons on the sideline. His 372 regular-season wins ranked second all-time in team history, but the Jazz never got past the second round of the playoffs under his watch. Snyder reportedly left a contract extension on the table in Salt Lake City. “At the core, and what drives me every day is our players and their passion for the game, their desire to constantly work to improve and their dedication to the team and the Jazz,” Snyder said. “I strongly feel they need a new voice to continue to evolve. That’s it. No philosophical differences, no other reason. After eight years, I just feel it is time to move onward. I needed to take time to detach after the season and make sure this was the right decision.” Don’t be surprised if Snyder takes the 2022-23 year off and returns the following season, perhaps as Gregg Popovich’s hand-picked successor in San Antonio.
Two former Mizzou All-Americans are back on the National Football Foundation College Football Hall of Fame nerd: defensive end Justin Smith (1998-2000) and wideout Jeremy Maclin (2007-08) along with first-time candidates Tim Tebow, Alex Smith and Luke Kuechly among others. Voting runs through June.