The fifth-year Missouri coach counts on nephew T.J. Cleveland as his top recruiter. Former Missouri guard Michael Anderson Jr. remains on campus as a graduate assistant and coach-in-training. DeMarre Carroll, another Anderson nephew, led Missouri’s recent resurgence and now plays for the Memphis Grizzlies.
Another freshman is a member of the extended Missouri basketball family. Shooting guard Ricky Kreklow of Columbia is the son of Tiger volleyball coach Wayne Kreklow, a former Boston Celtic reserve with an NBA championship ring.
Anderson and Pressey first bonded in the Tulsa backcourt nearly 30 years ago under new coach Nolan Richardson, who brought along his top player (Pressey) from West Texas College as well as a point guard (Anderson) from the Alabama junior college they had just defeated for the juco title.
The elder Pressey, now a Cleveland Cavaliers assistant, is “like a brother” to Anderson, the Missouri coach said. Freshmen Phil Pressey and older brother Matt, a junior college transfer, took summer vacations with Anderson and his family. Now, their new coach is all business.
“I had to convince these guys I’m not Uncle Mike,” Anderson said. “This is my job.”
Missouri returns four of its top five scorers and six players who saw considerable minutes last season, including starters Laurence Bowers and sharpshooter Kim English. The team’s lone senior is Justin Safford, whose season was cut short by a knee injury.
Phil Pressey, a 5-foot-10 blur of a guard from Dallas, counted Arizona, Baylor, Connecticut, Florida and LSU among his suitors before settling on Missouri. His 6-foot-2 brother quickly followed.
“It’s been a longtime family relationship,” Matt Pressey said. “A lot of (programs) try to sell it. But when you really know someone and are comfortable, it’s a lot easier decision.”
Especially for a juco transfer with just two years remaining in his college career.
“I had to go somewhere where I really trusted somebody, and knew they were going to do the right thing for me,” Pressey said. “I’m on the clock. My time is running out.”
“It’s the circle of life,” he said. “It starts here, and comes back.”
Yet anyone who has played sports with a parent _ or uncle, or close family friend _ as a coach knows that keeping the two roles distinct can be difficult. Michael Anderson Jr., whose playing time under his dad was sparse, acknowledged some of the inherent conflicts.
“It’s rewarding in some ways. In some ways it’s tough,” he said. “You can do the favorite thing you love to do with your father. But you have to separate the basketball and the coach (from the family side).”
Building future rosters is nearly as important in college basketball as game-day strategy. At Missouri, that means looking not just at the high school classes of 2011 and 2012 but another decade or two down the line.
Missouri, aiming for a third consecutive trip to the NCAA tournament, opens its season Nov. 5 against Harris-Stowe, followed by three nonconference home games before a Thanksgiving tournament in Cancun, Mexico.