Phil Pressey declares for NBA draft, leaves behind inexperienced Mizzou backcourt

By Matthew Fairburn

Frank Haith, right, huddles with the team during a time out in the Auburn game. Missouri is 14-0 at home and winless on the road.

The Missouri Tigers will have a very different look next year with the loss of Phil Pressey, center, graduating seniors and transfers.

Missouri junior guard Phil Pressey announced his intention to enter the 2013 NBA draft, ending his career as a Tiger and leaving behind an inexperienced backcourt in Columbia.

Pressey, who has signed with an agent, announced his decision on Wednesday. According to NCAA rules, when an athlete signs with an agent her or she is no longer able to compete at the collegiate level.

Pressey’s departure comes on the heels of Negus Webster-Chen announcing he will transfer. The only other point guard who has seen significant action for Missouri this season was Keion Bell, who is a senior.

The two likely candidates to take over at point guard are Jordan Clarkson and Wesley Clark. Clarkson sat out the 2012-13 season after transferring from Tulsa, where he average 16.5 point per game as a sophomore.

Clark, meanwhile, will enter the program as a true freshman. A four-star recruit of Romulus, Mich., according to Rivals.com, Clark has the promise to become Missouri’s starting point guard eventually, but it’s tough say how much he will contribute right away. Even Pressey only started 12 games as a true freshman.

Pressey’s production won’t be easy to replace. While he shot only 37 percent from the field, he averaged 11.9 points and 7.1 assists per game this season, setting the Missouri career record for assists in the process.

Despite the impressive statistics, Pressey was plagued by questionable decision-making late in games and finished his career 0-3 in NCAA tournament games. Leaving Missouri without winning was the hardest part of the decision for him.

“I wish we could have brought home a national championship banner, but coming to Mizzou was the best decision of my life,” Pressey said in a release from the school.

Beyond the depleted backcourt, Missouri also has to find a way to replace seniors Laurence Bowers and Alex Oriakhi, who accounted for a big chunk of the team’s production in the paint. Tony Criswell received more minutes than any returning frontcourt player, but the team’s roster is inexperienced in that area as well.

With three scholarships remaining, coach Frank Haith still has a chance to add to the roster. With the departure of Phil Pressey, the last of coach Mike Anderson’s recruits is now gone, and the Tigers’ roster for the 2013-14 season will have been built entirely by Haith and his staff.

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