Junior college prospect commits to Missouri men's basketball

Saturday, April 5, 2014 | 9:55 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — After enduring a week of bad news, Missouri basketball received some good news on Friday afternoon.

Kevin Punter Jr., a junior college transfer from State Fair Community College, committed to the Tigers.

A 6-foot-4 shooting guard from Bronx, N.Y., Punter averaged 20.3 points, 4.6 rebounds, 1.7 assists, and 1.4 steals per game last season as a sophomore for State Fair Community College in Sedalia. He shot 57 percent from the field, 37 percent from 3-point range and 83 percent from the free-throw line for the Roadrunners.

Punter will have two seasons of eligibility for Missouri. He occupies one of the two scholarships that became available after guards Jabari Brown and Jordan Clarkson declared for the NBA draft. Brown has the option to return to school if he decides to do so by the April 15 draft deadline.

Clarkson and Brown both declared for the draft this week — and Louisville transfer Zach Price created more uncertainty for the Tigers when he was arrested twice on Thursday. Price is currently suspended. His status moving forward is unclear.

The losses of Clarkson and Brown and Earnest Ross’ graduation will force Missouri coach Frank Haith to replace his team’s top-three scorers and 75.1 percent of its offense. Notre Dame transfer Cam Biedscheid, a 6-foot-7 wing, won’t be eligible until the end of fall semester, so Punter should be in the mix to occupy one of the voids in the starting lineup.

Punter joins a 2014 recruiting class that already includes Namon Wright, a 6-4 guard from Los Angeles, and Jakeenan Gant, a 6-8 forward from Springfield, Ga. Both are expected to contribute in Haith’s rotation next season.

“We’ve got to continue to do some recruiting obviously if those guys, particularly Jabari, decide to stay in the draft,” Haith said on Thursday afternoon. “We’ve got to really work hard at that.

“Going into the year we didn’t anticipate losing both (Brown and Clarkson). As the year progressed on, we started to identify some other guys we could possibly recruit. We’ve got to do a good job of finishing up what we need to do, getting the quality personnel we need to be successful in the SEC next year.”

Supervising editor is Sean Morrison.

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