Missouri basketball: Aidan Shaw embodies the evolution of the MU roster


If you had spent the past month closely following Aidan Shaw’s recruiting, you might start to see momentum turning direction in Missouri.

A planned official visit to Arkansas failed. Oklahoma State has made a commitment from another player to his post. Meanwhile, Iowa and Maryland – both of which received official visits this summer – have never really gained ground with the top 60 talent.

As we have already noted, this race boiled down to an old feud between MU and his rival in the west. In the end, the Tigers won, with Shaw’s engagement giving coach Cuonzo Martin and a well-deserved victory on the scouting track. Plus, the on-court impact of Shaw’s decision is as clear as the off-court optics of the show.


At the start of this round, MU probably had four purses in play, three of which likely fell in the backcourt. But after the machinations of this spring’s roster with the transfer portal, the Tigers ultimately only had two vacancies: a depth ball manager and senior replacement Javon Pickett.

In early July, the program activated stealth mode to land Christian Jones of East St. Louis after hosting a stellar month with the Flyers at team camps. From that point on, attention shifted to figures like Shaw, who was on campus for an official visit in the third week of June.

Now, for all intents and purposes, MU could endure the rest of the fall. However, there are exceptions. Five Star Wing Mark Mitchell certainly qualifies. Last week, he announced another official visiting tour for his four finalists: Duke, Kansas, Missouri and UCLA (his trip to Colombia is scheduled for reunion weekend). Scouts see it as a two-team race between the Bruins and the Blue Devils, with the schedule in Durham predicted as the likely winner. For her part, MU believes it’s deeper into the mix for Mitchell, who is set to make a decision in December, than most assume.

If Mizzou wins, taking Mitchell would mean an over-signing, something Martin hasn’t done since taking the job. But if MU can add Shaw and Mitchell, it won’t blink.

There are other options on the market as well. Robert jennings, a three-star prospect from the Dallas metro, used an official visit the first weekend of September. However, Jennings, a 6-foot-7, 220-pound forward, doesn’t appear to be working on a fast-track schedule. He visited SMU last weekend and spent this one at Texas Tech. Wednesday, Mizzou Free DeShawndre Washington, a 6-foot-7, 190-pound winger from Northwest Florida who was the NJCAA Division II Player of the Year last season.

Historically, however, Martin has never over-signed during the fall period. So he could just stand with Jones and Shaw. If needed, the transfer market numbers will be robust as spring arrives.

Impact on the list

mizzou basketball list by position 9-17-21

We joke that Martin tries to sign as many 6ft 7in wings as he can, but there is some truth to this quip.

Adding Shaw only makes the line between the wing and combo spots more opaque. Until a few years ago, Shaw was a right wing prospect who only occasionally tried as a combo striker. Now that could be a bigger part of his portfolio – one shared with Kobe Brown, Sean Durugordon, and Ronnie DeGray III.

It’s a cliché now, but your position is defined by who you can keep. Shaw’s defensive versatility allows him to glide down and check on all fours, but it’s his switching ability that is most appealing. MU’s defense was healthier and more positional a few years ago. Still, Martin has talked about being more assertive on the ball and picking up the pace.

Case in point: 28% of MU’s placement attempts were in transition last season and placed 39th in Division I programs, according to Hoop Math. Where did the Tigers end up in 2019-2020? Try the 292nd nationally. The juice from the accelerator will likely require more turnovers, which depends on consistent ball pressure and athleticism in the passing lanes. In short, you need what Shaw can provide.

Playing for Matt McCall at UMass means DeGray is familiar with that approach. As for Brown and Durugordon, there might be a bit more of a wait and see involved. But if Shaw settles in quickly, the Tigers will have a plug-and-play defender who can slide with the pointers into pick-and-roll, shut shooters in place of the ball, and have the length and rebound to turn people around. far to the edge.

On the offensive side, a lot of things depend on Brown’s shot. In his first two seasons, he’s connected to just 25% of the arc behind the arc. (Granted, he did 34.4% unsupervised jumpers in sophomore year, according to data from Synergy Sports.) Assuming that happens, Brown could put a good foot forward in his next two seasons.

Still, Martin backed that position with Durugordon, who shot over 40 percent from depth in preparation. As for DeGray, he posted 0.992 points per possession, including 1.444 on spot-up jumpers, for UMass on moderate use. So there is potentially an insurance.

When Shaw arrives, he will come with a proven ability to be a force in transition, a timely cutter, and an active presence on the offensive board. Two questions will greet him. First of all, how reliable is the shooting stroke. At Blue Valley High School, he shot almost 36% from a junior, and nearly half of his field goal attempts went behind the arc. But a role change with MoKan Elite saw him go just 1 in 7 in 12 games at Peach Jam in July. The other task: self-creation out of the bounce – a facet Shaw told interviewers he strives to improve.

The stylistic evolution, however, is clear.

In the short term, Martin has reached the portal of veteran guards with a variety of skills: Amari Davis’ midrange play, Jarron Coleman’s versatility, and DaJuan Gordon’s defensive tenacity and downhill offense. Still, all three have backgrounds with some experience with fast play and ground spacing.

Meanwhile, the youngsters he added – Jones, Durugordon, Shaw, Yaya Keita and Trevon Brazile – have longer frames, are more comfortable on defense and may be better suited to play in transition. It’s easy to imagine a formation where Keita shoots a rebound and shoots an out pass to Jones, who has his head held high examining the next scene: Brazile sprinting to the rim, Shaw wide on the wing and Brookshire running to a place. All the while, Keita could stay behind in search of a third pointer.

As for the 2023 cycle, MU will have to end substitutions for three transfers – Coleman, Davis and Gordon – and a senior to Kobe Brown. Position-wise, the Tigers likely need a pair of running backs, a fin and a foursome. So far, staff have reportedly been in contact with 19 prospects, offering five deals and welcoming seven unofficial visitors.

Right now, coaches are on the road this month for an evaluation period to see leads at open gyms. They will also welcome playmaker Braelon Green, who looks like a top 50 rookie, for an official visit on October 16. It will be worth checking to see if Martin and his team have any new offers.

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