CREVE COEUR — New Missouri men's basketball coach Kim Anderson reiterated the importance of recruiting players from St. Louis during a visit to the area Sunday.
"St. Louis has always been important to the university," Anderson said. "Way back in the day, I played with a lot of St. Louis guys, and over the years there's been a lot of outstanding players to come through here. I'm hoping we can do a good job here."
Anderson, who was hired April 28 and has spent the past month recruiting and filling out his coaching staff, spoke at the Mizzou Alumni Association's St. Louis chapter's Southeastern Conference Picnic at De Smet Jesuit High School. About 100 Missouri fans and alumni attended the event.
Only one player on last year's team, forward Ryan Rosburg, is from the St. Louis area. He will be joined this year by Cameron Biedscheid, a transfer from Notre Dame who played at Cardinal Ritter College Prep.
Missouri fans hope Anderson can recruit better in both the Gateway City and the state than his predecessors. The program has failed to sign notable state prep stars such as Bradley Beal and Otto Porter in recent years. Beal went to Florida, and Porter attended Georgetown. The NBA's Washington Wizards selected Beal with the No. 3 pick in the 2012 draft and then Porter with the No. 3 pick in 2013.
Anderson said he was excited to work with the players he does have on his roster. The team held two workouts last week as it begins to prepare for next season.
"The great thing about it is it's June and we've got time to spend with our guys," said Anderson, who guided Central Missouri to the Division II championship this year. "I've never had that time before in Division II. Now we actually have time two hours a week to work on stuff."
Anderson also said he is close to finishing out his staff. Anderson recently hired former San Antonio Spurs athletic performance coach Matt Herring to the same position. Anderson said he has "two to three" more slots to fill on his staff but hopes to complete the process by July.
The man Anderson replaced, Frank Haith, left Missouri to become the head coach at the University of Tulsa. Southeastern Conference commissioner Mike Slive, who was also in attendance at the SEC picnic, said he is not concerned about Haith and former Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin — who left for California this spring — leaving the conference to head what some consider less glamorous programs.
"Everybody has their own dreams and aspirations," Slive said. "What you saw this postseason (where three SEC teams made the Elite Eight) is what the future of SEC men's basketball is going to look like."
The SEC, of course, is already a football behemoth. And there's no telling how much power it might yield.
Slive made headlines during the SEC spring meetings last month when he suggested the five largest athletic conferences could create a fourth NCAA division if they are not granted autonomy to provide more benefits for their college athletes in Division I. Slive seemed to back away from those comments in suburban St. Louis.
"I am optimistic that we are going to see the model that the steering committee recommended will go first," Slive said. "I am so optimistic that we will get to where we need to go."
Slive was joined by ESPN analyst and former Dallas Cowboys defensive end Marcus Spears to promote the sports television giant's new SEC Network.
"This is the premier college conference," said Spears, who played college football at Louisiana State. "That's why we can have our own network."
The SEC Network launches Aug. 14. The network will televise Missouri football's Sept. 13 home game against Central Florida.
Supervising editor is Mark Selig