The Dennis Gates era has been nothing but promising so far after just one season in Columbia. The stadium started to sell out every home game, Missouri won its first NCAA tournament game in 13 years, and the program currently has the No. 1 ranked recruiting class in the nation for the Class of 2024.
This definitely comes as a shocker to many college basketball fans around the country. How does Gates put together a top-ranked recruiting class at a school that’s never made the Final Four and went just 12-21 two years ago?
Let’s take a look at each commit so far and why they chose to play for the Tigers:
Five-Star, SF, Annor Boateng
Gates and his staff landed their biggest recruit yet as five-star small forward Annor Boateng committed to Missouri a couple weeks ago. The Little Rock, Arkansas native is listed as the 10th best small forward in the nation for the Class of 2024 and the highest ranked recruit in the state of Arkansas. Boateng picked the Tigers over Auburn, Georgia Tech, Indiana, Ohio State and the Arkansas Razorbacks. The small forward claimed that it was the staff that set Missouri apart from the others.
“I chose Missouri because of the staff,” Boateng told On3's Joe Tipton. “From my first unofficial visit, they showed they wanted the best for me. (Dennis) Gates runs a great program in Missouri and I know I’ll be in good hands.
Four-Star, C, Peyton Marshall
Four-star center Peyton Marshall was a key addition to Missouri’s recruiting class. The seven-footer was originally committed to Auburn before ultimately deciding to reopen his recruitment and play for Missouri. 247Sports has the Marietta, Georgia native ranked as the eighth best center in the Class of 2024 and the sixth highest-ranked recruit in the state of Georgia. Along with Missouri and Georgia, the four-star also received offers from Ole Miss, Cincinnati, Georgetown, Georgia and more.
The system that Missouri plays in was the ultimate deciding factor in Marshall’s decision to become a Tiger.
Four-Star, C, Trent Burns
Missouri’s newest commit is four-star center Trent Burns. The center is the second seven-footer in the Tigers’ recruiting class as he is listed as 7-foot-3. 247Sports has the four-star placed as the 16th best center in the nation in the Class of 2024 and the third best overall player in the state of Texas. The Houston, Texas native picked Missouri over Tulsa, Rice and Xavier this past weekend. Like Boateng, Gates and his staff is what ultimately led the seven-foot-three 210 pound center to commit to the Tigers.
“I chose Missouri because I felt like coach Gates and his staff had the best plan to develop me as a player and as a person and ultimately into a pro,” Burns told On3.
The Rest: Four-Star, PF, Marcus Allen and Four-Star, CG, T.O. Barrett
The rest of the class starts with four-star power forward Marcus Allen. Allen, who is currently a senior at Norland High School in Miami, is listed as the 12th best power forward in the entire class and the 10th highest rated recruit in the state of Florida according to 247Sports. The power forward picked the Tigers over schools like Florida State, Indiana and Miami. Missouri associate head coach Cy Young began recruiting Allen when he was a part of Leonard Hamilton’s staff at Florida State.
Then there's four-star combo guard T.O Barrett chose to stay home and play for the Tigers. Barrett is currently a senior at Link Academy which is a consistently competitive high school basketball program in Branson, Missouri. The four-star also received offers from notable division one programs such as Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Montana before committing to the Tigers in June. 247Sports had Barrett listed as the 14th best combo guard in the Class of 2024 and fourth best overall recruit in Missouri. The atmosphere and how it made him feel is what led the combo guard to commit to playing for Gates and his staff.
Is Missouri Done?
The most important question is pretty straightforward: Is the No. 1 class in America finished? The answer is no.
The Tigers are still in on several other prospects, most notably five-star center Jayden Quaintence.
The five-star center reclassified from the 2025 class into 2024, and emerged as a Top 10 prospect in the process.
Since joining the class of 2024, it appears as though it's a three-horse race from the college perspective, as the Tigers are battling it out with Kentucky and Cincinnati for the services of the 6'9 center. Quaintance visited Missouri just last week.
The other factor with Quaintance is a professional option, as the G-League Ignite program is hard after his services.
Because he was born in 2007, Quaintance isn't eligible for the NBA Draft until 2026, meaning he has three full seasons before he's draft eligible.
It could mean two years in the G-League Ignite program, two years in college, or starting in college before finding a professional option.
This is one to monitor.
Finally, will Missouri end up with the No. 1 class in America?
Lastly, it's worth asking: Can the Tigers, hold onto the No. 1 class in the 247 Sports rankings?
Bluntly, it shouldn't take away from anything Gates, Charlton Young and the staff have done if they don't finish at No. 1. But with a few schools coming on strong, it won't be easy.
Duke: The most likely program to eventually end up at No. 1 at this point is Duke. They currently sit at No. 3 overall, with three Top 60 players, headlined by a pair of five-stars.
They are also the very public perceived leader for the No. 1 player in America, 6'9 forward Cooper Flagg, and are in the hunt for the No. 2 player in the country, Dylan Harper. Harper is the younger brother of former Rutgers star Ron Harper Jr., and many believe the Scarlet Knights will be the ultimate landing choice. But if he doesn't end up in Piscataway, the Blue Devils appear to be the frontrunner.
Duke is also in on a few other big-time players, most notably fringe five-star center Patrick Ngongba. The 6'11 center plays at the same high school as current Blue Devil guard Jeremy Roach, as well as former Blue Devil Trevor Keels.
If we're being honest, Duke probably will finish with the No. 1 class in the country.
Kentucky: As things stand, the Wildcats have just one commit for 2024, four-star center Somto Cyril from Overtime Elite.
Yet while John Calipari has publicly not been as aggressive in the class of 2024 as previous years, he could still end up with the No. 1 class if he pushes all his chips in the middle and a couple things break his way.
The Wildcats are the public leader for five-star Boogie Fland out New York, with Indiana and Alabama his other finalists. They are also battling Mizzou for Quaintance, and are the public co-leaders for five-star wing Karter Knox. Knox is the younger brother of former Wildcat Kevin Knox, who played for Calipari and was recruited by current Louisville head coach Kenny Payne. They are also in the mix for Ngongba as well.
We'll see just how aggressive Calipari gets on the recruiting trail, but if he were to land Quaintance, Fland and Knox, the Wildcats would end up with the top class.
North Carolina: North Carolina currently sits at the No. 2 spot in the 247 rankings, right behind Missouri, on the backs of a pair of five-stars: Wing Drake Powell and guard Ian Jackson.
However, the buzz out of Chapel Hill is that the Tar Heels are done recruiting in 2024, barring a surprise reclassification candidate. Do not expect UNC to surpass Missouri at this point.
UConn: With Cooper Flagg cancelling a visit to Kansas earlier this week, it means that UConn is Duke's biggest - and likely only - threat for the No. 1 high school player in America. Still, the Huskies appear to be a very distant second to the Blue Devils for Flagg, and even if they get him, will likely close out their 2024 class with just three players and likely not enough to surpass the Tigers in the rankings.
Rutgers: Rutgers currently has the No. 6 ranked recruiting class according to 247 Sports, headlined by five-star, Top 5 prospect Ace Bailey. Should they land Harper, that would give them two of the top five prospects nationally, and an argument for No. 1.
Alabama: A wild card in this whole thing is Alabama, which has a commitment of four-star center Aidan Sherrell, and is a finalist for Fland and five-star forward Derrion Reid.
Should Nate Oats land both, it might be enough for the Tide to surpass Missouri in the top spot.
Follow Ethan Burke on Twitter - @_EthanBurke_