As first reported by PowerMizzou.com, Missouri basketball assistant coach Tim Fuller is leaving the program after one season with Kim Anderson. Fuller turned down a head coaching job offer at Florida A & M and instead took a $55,000 raise to stay on as the lone holdover from Frank Haith’s staff.
Back in 2013, when Haith was suspended five games for his involvement tied to the Miami booster debacle, Fuller went 5-0 as the Tigers’ interim head coach. Prior to joining Haith’s staff at Mizzou, he was an assistant on Rick Pitino’s stafff at Louisville and also worked a short time with Haith at Miami. Fuller was named one of college basketball’s Top 10 assistant coaches under the age of 40 by ESPN.com, but his recruiting efforts at Missouri gave mixed results.
Here’s a look at the success and the not so good results of Fuller’s recruiting at Missouri.
He brought in transfers Jordan Clarkson and Jabari Brown. (Sidenote, Clarkson scored a career high 30 points for the Lakers in their loss to Oklahoma City. Brown, also on the Lakers, scored seven) He also added Alex Oriakhi and Keith Shamburger, the latter, who gave Anderson some senior leadership this season for a team that went 9-23. Fuller was also responsible for bringing in Jakeenan Gant and D’Angelo Allen who showed a potential to be good players for Anderson and sophomore Jonathan Williams III, the team’s leader in scoring and rebounding.
As far as the duds that Fuller pulled in. He brought along Louisville transfer Zach Price who played exactly 0 games for Mizzou. He was dismissed last spring after he was arrested not once, but twice for assaulting Earnest Ross. He also brought along recruits Dominique Bull, Negus Webster-Chan and Stefan Jankovic, who all bolted after one season of playing at Mizzou. He helped sign Torren Jones, who got kicked off the team last summer by Anderson for violating team rules.
Obviously, Clarkson and Brown are in the NBA, but neither he or Haith were able to get them to play to their full potential at Mizzou. Oriakhi was servicable, but not a consistent, strong force inside that the Tigers were looking for. Gant and Allen have incomplete grades to know just how good they’ll be. J3 showed growth from his freshman year. However, the misses are glaring. For a coach with a reputation from bringing along good players, he found trouble in Price and Jones and had the three others I mentioned leave without much contribution. Those were three potential scholarship players who would have been juniors this season. That set back this year’s roster.
Fuller may have a strong recruiting reputation, and I realize no coach is ever going to bat 1.000 when it comes to recruiting, but to grade his job at Mizzou, I give a C+.
Now, to Fuller’s defense, when you consider what he had to recruit through his grade should be higher, much higher. Consider this, he was out recruiting for a head coach in Haith who many thought was going to be fired over the Miami scandal. It’s tough to get kids to come to a school where the future of the head coach is unknown. Fuller helped keep the roster together. His first recruiting class featured Keion Bell who averaged nearly 11 points, Earnest Ross, who average ten and five, and Brown, 13.7 ppg.
In J3’s first season, when you look at the numbers he put up in the five games that Fuller coached while Haith served his suspension, he had a game with a career high of 17 rebounds and had a career high 31 points. Jabari was averaging close to 20 and Clarkson 17.5.
So, perhaps the way those players were utilized with Haith coaching them draws more of my criticism for not getting the full potential out of there talent. Am I being too unfair to Fuller on Price? Perhaps. Look at the play of the Tigers’ big men this season. Ryan Rosburg and Keanau Post were sub-par. Fuller may have been scrambling and getting Price was a band-aid, but Fuller had no idea Price would do what he did.
I decided to open up the comments at the bottom of this story. What do you think? Was my grade too severe? To Fuller’s credit, he stuck with a program that has seen better days when other assistants and other coaches have bailed.