Highlight dunks and rejections made his name a frequent one boomed from the public adress system at Mizzou Arena. This summer, however, junior forward Laurence Bowers has spent a little time on the other end of the microphone.
Now one of the program’s more experienced players, he gets the privaledge of assigning and announcing teams for pickup games this summer. Also, Bowers has begun rehabbing his surgically repaired left wrist for which he under March 24th to repair two torn ligaments.
These days of rehab and practice could be some of the most important days in the 2010-2011 Tiger season. Bowers, who averaged 10.2 points and 5.7 rebounds last year, will be leaned on heavily to shoulder most of the load for a thin frontline. Questions remain about heralded recruit, forward Tony Mitchell’s, eligibility. Ricardo Ratliffe will be on campus once he finishes coursework at Central Florida Junior College.
The JUCO recruiting has treated Missouri well during CMA’s tenure with the Tigers. Last year, senior captain Keith Ramsey played two seasons at Northwest Florida Community College before recording 69 career blocks for the Tigers, good for tenth all-time in school history. The addition of Ratliffe and Matt Pressey means a JUCO player will continue to play meaningful minutes for CMA. However, the JUCO recruiting grounds today do not compare to the wealth of talent they provided as little as 10 years ago.
Senior forward Justin Safford continues to rehab his torn ACL, and Coach Mike Anderson says he will be ready for the official start of practice in October. Incoming freshman Kadeem Green is currently on-campus, taking summer school and rehabbing a ruptured achilles tendon.
On the flip side, sophomore John Underwood reportedly has opened a lot of eyes as the programs unofficial most improved player since last year. The 6’9” forward reportedly has his weight up to 225, very encouraging considering his situation last season.
Given the level of uncertainty surrounding the Tiger forwards, it becomes obvious how important a healthy and productive Laurence Bowers is to this team. The dedication and toughness displayed by Bowers late last season in battling this injury points to the idea that the Memphis native is up to the task.
And Tiger fans hope he is. Even by flexing its professional muscle with a conference record 12 NBA draft picks last June, the Big 12 shows no signs of atrophy. The incoming freshmen class, across the conference, is one of the strongest in conference history, stacked full of McDonald All-Americans and ESPN Top 100 players.
So how do newcomers not named Pressey or Ratliffe or Mitchell affect the Tigers? Let’s break down my three favorites.
Josh Selby (PG, Kansas)
The Jayhawks look to replace floor general Sharron Collins, and Selby appears to be a more than worthy candidate. Known to play with a chip on his shoulder, Selby plays with the fearlessness needed to direct an annual NCAA championship contender. However, Selby will most likely only give Tiger fans fits for a season, as many expect him to enter the 2011 draft, being Bill Self’s second one-and-done recruit (Xavier Henry was the first).
Perry Jones (Power Forward, Baylor)
This 6’11” forward from Duncanville, Texas, is my personal favorite of the newcomers. Baylor fans who had to watch in-state rival Kevin Durant torch them a few seasons back should find many similarities in Jones. And Jones may be joining Durant in the league very, very soon. Many scouts credit Jones with the most NBA potential of his class. At 220 pounds, his athletic ability gives coach Scott Drew a versatile weapon. He will benefit the Bears in the post, after losing center Ekpe Udoh to the first round of the NBA draft. But he also has the ability to run the floor and lead the break. Think Tony Mitchell, but three inches taller. And eligible.
Michael Cobbins (PF, Oklahoma State)
After losing the Big 12’s leading scorer, James Anderson, and starting wing Obi Muonelo, the Cowboys expect the 6’8” Cobbins to produce right away. His long frame and overall quickness will help an OSU defense that allowed 72 points per conference game.
The Big 12 Conference and ESPN announced the 2010-2011 “Big Monday” schedule yesterday. The action begins on MLK Day with a double header featuring Kansas State at Missouri in the afternoon and Kansas at Baylor at night. Missouri’s other Big Monday date is for February 7th when they travel to Lawrence, Kansas, to try and win only their second game ever in the hallowed Allen Fieldhouse.