Busting Brackets

Missouri Basketball: Tigers add frontcourt depth for 2024-25 season, snag Josh Gray from the portal

South Carolina v Arkansas
South Carolina v Arkansas / Wesley Hitt/GettyImages

It took a few weeks but Missouri Coach Dennis Gates finally added some post depth when he signed South Carolina big man Josh Gray out of the transfer portal. Entering this offseason, the Tigers needed depth at nearly every position on the court and Gates addressed most of those areas early on but hadn’t landed on a suitable post presence.

Top-caliber centers are a luxury in college basketball, even more so with the evolution of the transfer portal and NIL. Players are more willing to stay put if they don’t think they can maximize their output elsewhere and wait another year to see what other opportunities arise. That’s why when a team finds a player they want out of the portal they need to act fast. After missing out on a few of the more sought-after post players, Gates kept searching and landed a solid defender and rebounder with years of experience. 

Josh Gray has nearly 100 games of experience, all within the Southeastern Conference. Gray started his college career at LSU before spending the past three seasons at South Carolina. Gray has found varying levels of success the past four seasons, but never really saw his minutes extend above role-player levels. 

To see what Gray can contribute for the Tigers you need to go back two years to the 2022-23 season since his minutes shrunk considerably this past year. In his Junior season, Gray played in 32 games for the Gamecocks starting 15, while averaging nearly 17 minutes per game. Gray made the most of his minutes for South Carolina, averaging 4.3 points on 51 percent shooting. Although he wasn’t lighting up the box score on the offensive end, Gray excelled on the boards grabbing 6.3 rebounds per game. In his three years at South Carolina, Gray grabbed double-digit rebounds in nine games.

Mizzou thought they had the front court figured out last season, but through injuries and uncertain playing time, the Tigers interior players never really caught on. What makes Josh Gray different is easy to see and yet to be determined. Gray fills the role of the post-defender and rebounder, but it is still to be seen how many minutes will be allotted to the newest Tiger. 

Josh Gray is more of a post-up type of offensive player which isn’t a featured part of the Dennis Gates offense, but that doesn’t mean he won’t contribute on that end of the court. Gray is a solid scorer around the rim, though on occasion struggles to score through contact. He also can score diving to the rim off a pick-and-roll. Gray has solid hands, catching the ball in well traffic, and moves his feet to get a good first step on his defender when he gets the ball on the post.

He will mostly get his scoring opportunities on second-chance attempts for Missouri and its high-paced offense. Gray’s offensive game is nearly non-existent more than a few feet outside of the paint. In his college career Gray has attempted three shots behind the arc and only 142 free throws, making 44 percent from the line. 

Gray will have his greatest impact for Mizzou on the defensive end of the court. At nearly seven feet tall and over 250 pounds there are only a handful of players in the SEC that can out-physical him. Gray moves his feet well to stay in front of most players he’s guarding, and when a quicker player gets past him he knows how to use his length to disrupt the shot. He can also use his length to contest threes from his spot in the lane. Gray is also a decent defender in pick-and-rolls, dropping back in coverage to take away driving lanes. When he gets switched on to faster guards Gray has quick enough feet to stay on his feet when he gets off balance. 

His biggest strength is on the boards. Gray is a good rebounder on both ends of the court. And that’s exactly what Missouri needs from him. Chances are that he will see a few more minutes than last season, but will likely be splitting time with Peyton Marshall.

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Josh Gray is a smart addition to the roster for Gates and the Tigers. There aren’t many questions about what Gray adds to any roster, but there are even fewer questions about what he adds to Mizzou’s. The Tigers were in desperate need of interior defense and rebounding, and even if he only plays 15 minutes per game Gray should improve those areas from day one. This isn’t necessarily a home run addition to the roster, but on paper, it should be a net positive for the team.