Missouri freshmen: early look

Through the season's first month, Tiger fans must be excited about their newcomers. The team captured the Las Vegas Invitational title thanks in part to contributions from freshmen and look forward to a strong SEC campaign.

Although Missouri freshmen failed to make a significant impact in the LVI final versus hometown Nevada, two frosh have stepped up through the early portion of the season.

Big man Johnathan Williams III — our No. 34 overall prospect in the 2013 class — is playing a big 25 minutes per game as a regular starter, averaging seven points and eight rebounds in the process. A very long center, he's also blocking one shot per game and that number likely will increase over time. Though not yet a reliable interior scorer, he nevertheless is shooting 53 percent from the field on limited attempts. He clearly does need to improve his 52 percent free throw shooting, however.

Point guard Wes Clark is a skinny young guy at 6-0, 171 pounds, but he exhibits significant talent as a distributor. He's playing 21 minutes per game himself and, though not scoring often, has amassed a positive assist-turnover ratio of 18-12. For a freshman floor general, that's solid. He must gain strength and, like Williams, is shooting only 50 percent from the foul line.

Still, his top-100 credentials appear to be legitimate, and it bodes well that both Clark and Williams have earned more than 20 minutes of nightly action at such an early stage.

Neither Shane Rector nor Torren Jones arrived in Columbia bearing the same accolades, but both are good physical talents. Jones is an athletic specimen of a power forward who must enhance his skill level, while Rector is a streaky perimeter shooter who needs to fill out and become more balanced.

The Tigers have garnered significant momentum to open the season on the backs of several experienced players, and the rookies' development should accelerate due to the talent and seasoning playing alongside them.


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