Roster turnover has hit Missouri men’s basketball hard with nine members of the 2021 team transferring or graduating. This includes standout center Jeremiah Tilmon and important bench pieces Mitchell Smith and Parker Braun.
Missouri coach Cuonzo Martin had to address the frontcourt in his 2021 recruiting class and in the transfer portal this offseason. He did exactly that when the Tigers got a commitment from Massachusetts transfer forward Ronnie DeGray III.
Between incoming transfers and freshmen, Missouri is expected to have eight new players on its roster this fall. DeGray III is Part 3 of the Missourian’s series on MU’s roster additions.
Who he is
The Parker, Colorado, native was the third offseason acquisition Martin made after the Tigers’ NCAA Tournament exit in March.
DeGray enters the program with a full slate of eligibility, having played a freshman season for the Minutemen but being able to take advantage of the NCAA’s extra year of eligibility granted to winter-sport athletes.
In his one season at Massachusetts, the forward quickly appeared to gain the trust of his coaching staff, starting in 14 of the 15 games he played.
In those 15 games, DeGray showed signs of what kind of player he could be down the road, even though he was sixth on the team in field-goal attempts. DeGray averaged 8.7 points while reeling in 4.6 rebounds per game.
In doing so, he displayed a well-rounded game that fits wonderfully in modern basketball. Game film shows his ability to score off cuts and shoot the ball. DeGray shot 37% from beyond the arc, albeit on fewer than two attempts per game.
On defense, the forward should be a weapon for Martin. His size at 6-foot-7 and 220 pounds allows him to battle with big men inside, and nimble feet on the perimeter mean he has the potential to guard all five positions. His game film shows good instincts at the rim, giving him some shot-blocking potential.
How he fits
DeGray is a welcome addition to a frontcourt that has been depleted by graduation and transfers. This should lead to him competing for immediate playing time.
On the court, his versatility should allow Missouri’s coaching staff to deploy him in a variety of lineups, taking advantage of his size and skill set on both ends of the floor.
On offense, he showed the ability to score off cuts and make plays in his limited usage. His shooting could be his greatest asset, as the Tigers had difficulty spacing the floor this past season. The concern will be that his shooting numbers come from a small sample size and that his mechanics are not smooth.
If his numbers stay the same or improve from beyond the arc, it will allow other transfers like Jarron Coleman and Amari Davis, along with incoming freshman Anton Brookshire, the space to put pressure on defenses going to the basket.
On the other end of the floor, DeGray may be a viable weapon against teams that play small. That would be a welcome sign for Missouri, which struggled defensively against stretch bigs like Arkansas’ Justin Smith and Oklahoma’s Brady Manek late in the season.
Whether he starts or comes off the bench this season, DeGray is an intriguing player for Tiger fans to follow.