COLUMBIA — Before the national anthem was sung and the lineups were announced, just as the crowd began cheering for the start of the Missouri and Texas Tech matchup, the sound from the crowd suddenly became much, much louder.
Dorial Green-Beckham had entered the arena.
He stopped to high-five fans in the front row of the student section and towered over many of them with his 6-foot-6, 220-pound frame.
Green-Beckham is considered one of the top football recruits in the nation, hailing from Springfield where he played as a wide receiver at Hillcrest High School.
After the national anthem, Green-Beckham talked to people sitting at the scorer’s table, and a referee greeted him with a pat on the back before he took his seat directly behind the Missouri bench.
During the game, a variety of signs supporting Green-Beckham popped up and down in the student section, including a black sign with gold “MIZ” lettering and a gold sign with black “DGB” lettering. Another sign, designed like the circular Southeastern Conference logo, sported DGB’s initials instead of the usual SEC.
The Antlers, an MU student fan group, had been preparing for his arrival by making signs, preparing chants and handing out fliers before the game announcing that Missouri had brought the No. 1-ranked football recruit in the country to the basketball game. The fliers read that The Antlers were changing the cheer from “M-I-Z, Z-O-U” to “M-I-Z, D-G-B” to “let Dorial feel the love and welcome him home to Mizzou.”
Through much of the first half, Green-Beckham sat nearly emotionless, clapping occasionally when Missouri made a big play. But as he left the arena during a timeout with less than five minutes left in the game, a wide smile spread across his face as he received a standing ovation from the student section accompanied by chants of “D-G-B.” He paused to take a picture with Truman the Tiger before waving to the student section and exiting the arena.
“It’s a fun thing,” Green-Beckham said of the atmosphere at Mizzou Arena. He said all the welcome home signs made him feel at home.
Clips of the Missouri football team’s 41-24 victory over North Carolina in the Independence Bowl were shown on the screen during a timeout in the first half. More than 50 members of the Missouri football team were introduced at center court to a standing ovation from the crowd.
After the game, senior guard Kim English joked that he didn’t know what was going on in the arena surrounding the potential football recruit. The hoopla didn’t seem to disrupt the Tigers’ play as they defeated Texas Tech 63-50 in front of a sellout crowd of 15,061.
“We were completely, 100 percent focused on Texas Tech, but I hope he comes here,” English said of Green-Beckham.