The 2022-23 Missouri State men’s basketball team looks entirely different than the one that just led the program to its first NIT appearance since 2011.
In the transfer portal world, it’s not much of a surprise that Dana Ford has had to overhaul his entire roster heading into his fifth season. He’s lost some of his best players from him to the portal but it’s his job from him to go out and try and put together a team that can compete for a championship this upcoming season.
Only a few familiar names remain while Ford has been busy since the Bears’ season came to an end. He’s maintained his ability to recruit at a high level and the next step is to see how this roster will come together.
One player will still need to depart the roster before the fall semester as the Bears are currently one over on scholarships for next season. That could last throughout the summer and we could also know sooner which player that may be.
Here’s a look at those who are on the Missouri State men’s basketball roster:
Dawson Carper, fifth-year
One of three players who are right now set to return, the Hawaii transfer enters his third year with the program as the biggest player on the roster.
The 7-footer was limited his first year due to injury before getting a small role in 27 games this past season. He showed some promise during the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament
An Akron transfer, Trimble figures to be a 3-point shooter for the Bears this upcoming season. He has attempted nearly eight per game in each of his last two seasons at Akron.
With one year of eligibility, Trimble should be able to fill some of the void left by Jaylen Minnett and Ja’Monta Black as they departed the program.
The addition of Colorado State guard Kendle Moore went a bit under the radar because the announcement of his transfer came minutes before Isiah Mosley reportedly entered the transfer portal.
Moore is an experienced player who has started 119 of 120 games in the last four seasons at Colorado State. He averaged 8.6 points, 2.5 boards and 2.1 assists per game. I have averaged four attempts from deep per outing.
Moore gives the Bears an immediate, experienced ball-handler which they lacked a year ago. That shouldn’t be a problem with the new roster Ford has built.
Donovan Clay, Sr.
Missouri State’s top returning player appears to be Clay as he’s back for his second season in a Bears uniform.
Clay led the Bears in minutes last season and proved to be a Swiss-army knife. He could score when he needed to, get rebounds and distribute the ball. He was a solid defender and someone who will continue to have a big role for the team after starting all 34 games last season.
The Bears needed more willing rebounders on the roster and they feel like they got it in a former juco standout who is transferring from Georgia.
Ridgnal averaged 2.9 rebounds for the Bulldogs last season but the promising juco All-American season he had the year before saw him average 18.6 points and 11.7 rebounds per game.
The starting point guard for the best story out of the most recent NCAA Tournament, Lee will give the Bears an experienced ball-handler who has played and won on the biggest stage.
The former Saint Peter’s guard averaged 6.8 points and 2.9 assists for the Peacocks last season. He’ll be among those who will run the show for the Bears this upcoming season.
As the highest touted player of the bunch, Graham is a promising transfer from Maryland who should flourish with the role he’s been looking for.
As a four-star out of high school, Graham is a 6-foot-8 wing who likes to get in the paint but has the ability to shoot from the outside. Missouri State coaches used Mosley’s film as a selling point to Graham on what he could do on the team’s offense.
Look for Graham to be an impact player from the jump.
Raphe Ayres, sophomore
Ayres is the returner that we’ve seen the least after the 6-foot-5 guard redshirted last season after playing just 44 minutes the year before. He’s the program’s longest-tenured player since making the move from Vermont Academy.
Although we haven’t seen much from him, Ayres is someone who can shoot the three and get rebounds when needed.
Moore was another highly-touted player out of high school with four stars and a top 100 ranking to his name. He didn’t see much time on an Elite Eight Arkansas roster before it went and grabbed more transfers to make a championship push for next season. That led to Moore looking for a new opportunity.
That opportunity should come at MSU after Moore stood out in one of the best high school programs in the country (McEachern; Georgia). He was a second-team all-state performer and someone who was pursued by some of the biggest programs in the nation.
The lone juco transfer on the roster, Mogbo is a player the Bears jumped on late after he had a great 14.3 point, 10.3 rebound average this past season at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M.
Mogbo is very athletic at 6-foot-8 and should throw down the best dunks Bears fans will see this upcoming season. He’s someone who can play multiple positions and has a high motor when trying to come down with rebounds. In some ways, he looks a bit like Alize Johnson did out of juco.
Mason, a transfer guard from Oklahoma, had a small role on Porter Moser’s first team with the Sooners. He entered the transfer portal and will stay near his Kansas City-area home with a move down to Springfield.
While young, Mason is a quick guard who should see some time for the Bears this upcoming season. He was a 44 percent shooter from deep in high school while averaging 22.4 points per game.
NJ Benson, freshman
One of the top-ranked recruits out of Illinois, Benson might be the freshman who could be the most likely to see floor time for the Bears this upcoming season.
The 6-foot-8 forward is coming off a great season at Mount Vernon in southern Illinois where he averaged 22 points and almost 11 rebounds. He was a 61.3 percent shooter and also made 32.1 percent of his shots from deep.
Jonathan Dunn, freshman
Dunn will be the lone local name of next season’s scholarship players after having a great senior season at Logan-Rogersville before playing a year of prep ball at We Are United.
Dunn is another freshman who could have a role although there seem to be 13 players on this roster who are capable of saying the same thing. He’s a great athlete and was a proven defender during his lone season in southwest Missouri while locking down some of the area’s great players including Aminu Mohammed.
It wouldn’t be a surprise if Mayo quickly finds himself a role for the Bears either. The freshman out of Link Academy played alongside players in high school who are just as talented and even more than those highly-touted recruits on this upcoming season’s roster.
Mayo didn’t put up the flashiest numbers for the second-ranked high school program in the country but he was a team captain and someone who helped orchestrate a team that was in its first season playing together. That experience could prove to be valuable when there are plenty of newcomers at MSU who will need to come together.
Tommy Pinegar, freshman walk-on
Who doesn’t love Tommy Pinegar? The city’s all-time leading 3-point shooter will walk on his freshman year for the Bears. He’s one who will pull up from the extremely large Bear logo at midcourt and you won’t think anything of it because he just has that type of range.
Who left the team?
Gaige Prime and Jaylen Minnett both graduated after the season and ran out of eligibility.
Demarcus Sharp, Ja’Monta Black and isaac haney each transferred to Northwestern State University — where former MSU associate head coach Corey Gipson is now the head coach.
Isiah Mosley entered the transfer portal while he’s kept his name in the NBA Draft pool. He has until June 1 to withdraw from the draft but has reportedly heard from Kansas, Duke, Louisville and others about joining them for this upcoming season.
Melvyn Ebonkoli, Lu’Cye Patterson, Skylar Wicks and Elijah Bridgers have each entered the transfer portal and have yet to find a landing spot.
Nic Tata will forgo his final year of eligibility in order to pursue a professional career in his native Australia.
Wyatt D. Wheeler is a reporter and columnist with the Springfield News-Leader. You can contact him at 417-371-6987, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter at @WyattWheeler_NL. He’s also the co-host of Sports Talk on Jock Radio weekdays from 4-6 pm