COLUMBIA, Mo. - Are trades possible through the transfer portal? That's what Missouri fans might be wondering after Friday's development.
Four days after former Mizzou guard Mark Smith committed to Kansas State, the Tigers plucked a former K-State Wildcat out of the transfer portal, sophomore DaJuan Gordon, a 6-foot-4 combo guard from Chicago who started 22 games this season.
On the surface, Gordon looks like a similar player to Smith. Both are decently sized wing players. Both are former four-star prospects from Illinois. Both posted some similar statistics this season. Gordon, who has three remaining years of eligibility to Smith's one, averaged 9.1 points and 5.5 rebounds per game but shot only 21.7% from 3-point range, down from 32.9% the year before as a freshman. Smith averaged 9.7 points and shot 31.5% from deep. Both marks were his lowest in three seasons at Mizzou.
But how the two scored those points and how they operate on the floor differ greatly. This season, Gordon attempted 39.8% of his field goal attempts at the rim, down slightly from 46% as a freshman, per HoopMath.com. Smith wasn't nearly as active around the rim: His yearly Mizzou marks for percentage of field goal attempts at the rim were 14.6, 18.8, 27.9. Gordon was more accurate at the rim, too, shooting 61.6 and 60.5% the last two years, compared to 50 and 52.8% for Smith.
As for those misfires from 3-point range, Gordon didn't shoot nearly as often from behind the arc, just 2.7 attempts per game in two seasons at K-State, compared to 5.5 attempts per game for Smith over the last three years at Mizzou. This season, 38% of Gordon's field goal attempts came from behind the arc, compared to 59.7% for Smith.
In short, Gordon's offensive game is much more oriented around driving the ball and attacking the rim compared to Smith's reliance on 3-pointers.
One key area where Gordon can improve: He's averaged only 1.7 free throw attempts per game in two college seasons. A player who takes that many shots around the rim should spend more time at the foul line.
Gordon scored in double figures in 13 of 24 games this year and posted five games with at least 10 rebounds, which indicates some much-needed athleticism on the perimeter. He's been one of the Big 12's best rebounding guards the last two seasons. Plus he's had 23 career games with multiple steals and has only fouled out once in two seasons despite logging 18 games with at least 30 minutes on the floor. He had KSU's second-best defensive rating this year (104.1 points allowed per 100 possessions). A foot injury held him out of four February games, but he returned for the team's final seven games, finishing his K-State career with one of his better box scores: 15 points, five rebounds and four steals in 34 minutes against Big 12 champion Baylor.
Gordon was rated a four-star recruit coming out of Chicago's Curie High School and ranked the No. 75 player in the country by Rivals.com. He took official recruiting visits to SMU and Ole Miss before signing with Kansas State. He also held offers from Xavier and Nebraska.
Before K-State, Gordon led Curie Metropolitan High School to a 61-7 record and two straight Class 4A state tournament appearances. As a senior he averaged 17.6 points and 7.9 rebounds and was named the Chicago Sun-Times player of the year.
By the end of Gordon's freshman season, Kansas State coach Bruce Weber talked about the young guard becoming the leader of his program. After a 9-20 season, Gordon was clearly seeking something different.
"Although DaJuan has played significant minutes and started most games the past two seasons, he indicated his desire to have a larger role offensively," Weber said last week. "Obviously, we are disappointed with his decision, but we wish him the best in basketball and life.”
Earlier in the day Friday, Mizzou lost out on Brandon McKissic, a senior transfer from University of Missouri-Kansas City, a St. Louis native who committed to Florida.
With a roster reset in full force, the Tigers have to replace nine players from last year’s team, including eight of its top 10 in minutes played. Five MU players have entered the portal since the team’s season-ending loss to Oklahoma in the first round of the NCAA Tournament: Smith, junior guards Xavier Pinson and Torrence Watson, junior forward Ed Chang and sophomore forward Parker Braun. Chang didn’t play any minutes this year, his first season in the program, while Watson and Braun were role players off the bench. Smith chose to take advantage of the NCAA’s extra year of eligibility and will play next season at Kansas State. Pinson, a starter in every game this season, has announced offers from Auburn, Georgia and Nebraska. Arkansas, always active in the portal, is also expected to pursue the junior from Chicago, a source said this week.
Along with Gordon, the Tigers are adding five freshmen to the roster next season, plus transfer Amari Davis, a high-scoring guard from University of Green Bay. MU has three returning players on the roster: junior guard Javon Pickett, sophomore forward Kobe Brown and freshman center Jordan Wilmore. Gordon's commitment leaves MU with three open scholarships for the 2021-22 season.