The past few days have been unforgiving for Missouri men’s basketball recruiting.
Heralded prospect Josh Christopher rendered his college decision Monday night and it wasn’t favorable to the Tigers.
The Lakewood, California, native honored the late Kobe Bryant with the timing of his announcement at 8:24 p.m. Pacific Time (10:24 p.m. Central) on Monday.
Christopher, a five-star recruit, played at Mayfair High School, less than half an hour from Los Angeles’ Staples Center — home of the Lakers, the team Bryant spent his entire 20-year professional career with.
The 6-foot-5 guard chose to join Arizona State to play alongside one of his older brothers, Caleb Christopher, a rising sophomore point guard with the Sun Devils, under head coach Bobby Hurley.
Missouri was among Christopher’s final five suitors, along with Michigan, which was widely considered the favorite to land the No. 10 prospect in the 247Sports composite’s Class of 2020 national rankings. The other schools also falling just short of attaining Christopher’s talents were Southern California and UCLA.
Christopher is the cousin of Tigers’ strength and conditioning coach Nicodemus Christopher.
Of the four schools to consistently appear in Christopher’s top five, Missouri was the only school where he didn’t take an official visit. He was in Columbia for Mizzou Madness as a junior in October 2018.
With the Tigers missing out on Christopher, all three of their priority targets ranked in the 247Sports Composite’s top 50 prospects in the Class of 2020 chose schools other than Missouri.
Christian Brothers guard Caleb Love committed to North Carolina after Missouri made his final two. Vashon’s Cam’Ron Fletcher had Missouri among his last group of suitors but committed to Kentucky.
Missouri still has two open scholarship spots for the 2020-21 season as the program is only departing one player due to graduation, Reed Nikko.
Nikko’s spot is being taken by the Tigers’ lone Class of 2020 signee at this time, 7-foot-3 center Jordan Wilmore.
Wilmore most recently played for Atlanta's Skills Factory Prep School for a season after graduating from high school. The 247Sports composite rates Wilmore as a three-star prospect and the 64th-best center in the Class of 2020.
The two other scholarships were previously occupied by Mario McKinney Jr. and Tray Jackson, two members of Missouri’s recruiting class for 2019. Both have since entered the transfer portal.
McKinney now suits up for Logan Community College in Carterville, Illinois. Jackson has yet to announce his future destination.
Missouri also missed out Monday on Justin Turner, a Bowling Green guard who became a possible graduate transfer after entering the NCAA transfer portal a few weeks ago. Turner announced he is opting to stay with the Falcons for his final season of college eligibility.
Missouri was also on the radar of RayQuawndis Mitchell, a 6-foot-4 guard from Otero (Colo.) Junior College, but Mitchell chose Illinois-Chicago on Monday after previously narrowing his final five to the Tigers and three other mid-major programs. Mitchell never held an official offer from MU, a source said.
Missouri is also in contention for Michigan transfer David DeJulius, who has two years of eligibility remaining.
DeJulius’ final four are Missouri, Iowa State, Cincinnati and Marquette. He was originally scheduled to make his commitment Wednesday after completing virtual visits with each of his final choices.
However, Endless Motor Sports reported Tuesday that DeJulius has pushed back his decision day to later this week.
As of now, DeJulius would have to sit out the 2020-21 season because of transfer regulations. With the coronavirus pandemic, the idea of a one-time transfer waiver for all athletes has been discussed by the NCAA. That would allow DeJulius to play immediately for his next team.