By: Sammy Stava
The Missouri Basketball team just landed their first commitment of the 2019 class, and it’s an important one for Cuonzo Martin and company. Earlier Monday evening, senior Vashon guard Mario McKinney announced his commitment to Missouri, according to his Twitter page.
AV, Stank, Sauce.. This for you. ?
❗❗ C O M M I T T E D❗❗ pic.twitter.com/7B9jccqco4
— Mario McKinney Jr./ HoodieRio.. ?? (@Boog341) September 24, 2018
McKinney has led Vashon to back-to-back Class Four State Championships in 2016 and 2017.
This continues the positive momentum in St. Louis recruiting head coach Cuonzo Martin has been bringing, as he’s been able to recruit Torrence Watson, Jeremiah Tilmon, Mark Smith, Javon Pickett, and Ronnie Suggs, all from the area.
McKinney, a four-star recruit rated by Rivals.com and ESPN, chose Missouri over Oklahoma State, Louisville, Auburn, VCU, Iowa State, and Kansas State. He’s also the cousin of former Missouri Basketball player Jimmy McKinney, who had played there from 2002-2006.
So, what does this mean for Missouri’s top target and Mr. Basketball of Illinois Belleville West senior EJ Liddell? Liddell and McKinney are best friends and have been playing together since the second grade, and also AAU ball on the Bradley Beal Elite team. To summarize, landing Mario McKinney certainly can help Missouri’s chances for him. Liddell, who has Ohio State, Missouri, and Illinois in his final three schools, just wrapped up his final official visit from those schools (Illinois) last weekend, so a decision could be coming soon from him. After missing out on Webster Groves’ Courtney Ramey to Texas in the spring, EJ Liddell has become more and more important for Missouri.
Whether Missouri can land him or not, East St. Louis native Cuonzo Martin has already put an emphasis on recruiting the St. Louis area talent, which is becoming so vital for this program’s rebuilding success, something they’ve been struggling to do for a while. This commitment is just another step in the right direction.