Missouri’s 2004 basketball recruiting class welcomed another member this week.
Jason Horton, a point guard from Cedar Hill, Texas, orally committed to the Tigers on Monday night. Horton is the fourth player to commit for the 2004 season, joining Kalen Grimes of Hazelwood; Marshall Brown of Austin, Texas; and Glen Dandridge of Durham, N.C. Each can sign binding national letters of intent during the early signing period, which begins in November.
Horton averaged 18.6 points and 5.7 assists last season for Cedar Hill High. Led by Horton, the Longhorns were one of the top teams in the Dallas area.
Cedar Hill coach David Milson said speed is Horton’s greatest strength.
“What really separates him from a lot of people is how fast he is from free-throw line to free-throw line,” he said. “He’s comfortable moving the ball to his left and his right and is quick both with the ball and defensively.”
Milson said Horton is maturing physically and as a player. Milson expects Horton to add an inch and 15 pounds to his 6-foot-1, 176-pound frame by the time he graduates.
“He has worked hard in the weight room and continues to grow,” he said. “He has had some adversity in the program, sitting most of the time as a freshman. But he played a lot of crunch minutes his sophomore year and took the reigns last season.”
In his three years with Horton, Milson has been most impressed with his competitiveness.
“He hates to lose,” Milson said. “He rises to the occasion and will do whatever he has to do to win.”
The Tigers’ recruiting success is beginning to earn national recognition. Bob Gibbons of Hoopmasters.com said the 2004 class ranks in the nation’s top three with Texas and Indiana.
“They’re certainly off to a great start recruiting,” Gibbons said. “It’s a terrific quartet of talented players.”
Gibbons lists Horton as one of the country’s top six point guards for 2004. Horton’s stock fluctuated this summer after he found it difficult to jell with teammates on a new AAU team, the Michigan Hurricanes. Despite that, Gibbons sees him as one of the top 20 recruits in his class.
“He had an unusual summer, but I thought he played well at the adidas camp and the NBA Top 100 camp,” Gibbons said. “He just had no chemistry with his teammates.”
Gibbons said he expects Horton to thrive with the Tigers, growing under the tutelage of coach Quin Snyder, a former point guard at Duke.
“Put good, talented kids with him and with a good system he’s going to look good,” Gibbons said.
Horton was long rumored to be Missouri’s to lose despite scholarship offers from many other top programs, including Kansas, Michigan and Florida. Despite the large amount of interest, Milson said Missouri was “where (Horton) wanted to go all along.”
Horton made an unofficial visit to Columbia in September, playing in the Black and Gold Game against last year’s Tiger squad. Horton’s speed and quick release allowed him to play well against the more experienced Tigers.
Horton will likely share the point guard duties with Randy Pulley in the 2004-05 season and will be a key figure coming off the bench. He can also play shooting guard, which will allow him to compete with Jimmy McKinney, Thomas Gardner and Spencer Laurie for playing time.
Horton’s older brother, Daniel, averaged 15.2 points per game last season as a freshman with Michigan.