COLUMBIA, MO. – It didn’t take long for the commitments of Tray Jackson and Mario McKinney to become official.
On the first day of the early signing period, the men’s basketball team’s two 2019 commits inked their decisions and officially became Tigers.
Jackson, a 6-foot-8 four-star power forward from Sunrise Christian Academy in Detroit, made his commitment official on Wednesday morning. McKinney, a 6-foot-1 guard from Vashon High School in St. Louis, signed his letter of intent later in the afternoon. Both are top-125 recruits according to the Rivals database. Jackson is rated as the No. 96 player in the country, while McKinney is the No. 125 player.
When Missouri coach Cuonzo Martin looks at the Tigers’ two signees, he sees players who can make plays off the dribble.
“From A-to-B, wherever they are, they can get to the basket,” Martin said. “I think both of those guys, between Mario and Tray, both of them can get to the rim. That’s something that is needed when you add shooters and other things. When you have guys that can get downhill and get to the rim, I think it opens things up for you.”
McKinney, who averaged 17.3 points per game last season, has a special connection to Missouri. His uncle, Jimmy McKinney, played at Missouri from 2002-06. Martin sees McKinney as a player who can play on and off the ball at the next level.
“When he is going downhill, with that athleticism and foot speed, I think he can be tough to guard,” Martin said. “The next phase for him is being a good, consistent free throw shooter. I think he is the type of guy who can get to the free throw line quite a bit, the way he attacks downhill.”
Jackson flipped his initial commitment from Minnesota to Missouri. Martin sees Jackson as a forward who can do a little bit of everything.
“Him being 6-foot-8 and being able to make the shot, being able to get the ball at either elbow, finish at the rim and he can dunk the ball, can shoot the ball and make a play with the basketball,” Martin said.
With the addition of Jackson and McKinney, the Tigers currently have zero open scholarships for the 2019 team.
PINGETON INKS TOP-15 CLASS: The Missouri women’s basketball team pulled in the No. 11 recruiting class in the country, according to ESPN. Highlighted by two top-100 in-state players Aijha Blackwell and Hayley Frank.
Blackwell, a standout at Whitfield High School in St. Louis, is Missouri’s prized 2019 recruit. The 6-foot guard is ranked as the eighth best player in the 2019 class, according to ESPN.
Frank, a three-time state champion at Strafford High School near Springfield, is ranked as the No. 29 recruit by ESPN.
Blackwell and Frank have a history of being opponents at the high school level. Whitfield lost to Strafford in the Class 3 state finals and the Class 3 final four in 2018.
Frank tallied 25 points and 14 rebounds in the 2017 state championship and 32 points and 10 rebounds in the 2018 final four matchup. Blackwell had 10 points and six rebounds in the 2017 state championship game and had 25 points and 13 rebounds in the 2018 final four game.
Now, as two of three Missouri players rated in the ESPN Top-30, they will be teammates at Missouri.
"Words can't describe how excited we are about this recruiting class," Missouri coach Robin Pingeton said in a release. "They are elite level players and high character individuals who will help us continue to elevate our program. The fact that they are from the state of Missouri makes it even that much more special."
SOFTBALL ADDS SEVEN: Missouri softball coach Larissa Anderson's first recruiting class added three players from Anderson's native northeast and four players from the Show-Me State. Extra Innings Softball rated it as the 38th best class in the nation.
Anderson's first crop includes three pitchers, including Emma Schumacher of East Fishkill, New York. Schumacher is ranked No. 87 on the Extra Innings Softball Extra Elite 100 list. Anderson also added Emma Nichols, a lefty from Hillsboro, and Jordan Weber, a righty from Lee's Summit.
In the field, Missouri will add Hanna McGivern, a shortstop/second baseman from Weston, Mo.; Megan Moll, a catcher/utility player from Eureka, Mo.; Kendal Cook, an infielder/outfielder from Horseheads, New York; and Lindsey Warick, a catcher/third baseman from South Brunswick, New Jersey.
The Tigers finished 30-29 last season under interim coach Gina Fogue. Missouri did not qualify for the SEC Tournament and went 2-2 at the NCAA Regional in Norman, Oklahoma.
MU RANKS THIRD IN GSR: Missouri announced Wednesday that its Graduate Success Rate score of 91 across all sports ranked third in the SEC, behind only Vanderbilt and South Carolina.
The Tigers had perfect scores of 100 in baseball, women's basketball, women's golf, soccer and tennis.