Top Missouri recruit (almost certainly) ineligible

We're still waiting on confirmation from Missouri to make it official, but it appears top Tigers recruit Tony Mitchell will indeed be academically ineligible for the coming fall semester. Sorry, Tigers fans. That's, like, a bummer, man.

The report comes from Rivals.com recruiting maven Jerry Meyer, who posted to that effect on Twitter this afternoon: "Just found out that tony mitchell has been ruled ineligible to play at missouri. Talked w his former aau coach." Fox's Jeff Goodman has a source telling him the same thing. Mitchell's deadline to enroll in fall classes was Monday, and it appears Mitchell wasn't able to get cleared in time to do so. (And just for fun, imagine how rough that class schedule would have been. Registering for college classes as a freshman is never fun, but it's even worse when you have to do it after everyone else has already picked over the classes that don't require you to wake up at 6 a.m. Ouch.)

Anyway, Mitchell's likely absence casts an immediate pall over what was supposed to be an ascendant Missouri program in 2010-11. Mitchell was the gem of Mike Anderson's impressive recruiting haul (the No. 8-ranked power forward in the Tigers' No. 14-ranked 2010 class). Mitchell is a versatile, athletic forward capable of pushing the pace, dribbling in transition, defending the length of the court, and finishing with authority on offense. In other words, he was perfect for Missouri. Now he won't be playing.

What happens next? For Mitchell, it's likely a semester of junior college, followed by an attempt to rejoin his new team in the spring semester. For Missouri, it means an increased reliance on Justin Safford, Lawrence Bowers and Steve Moore, all contributors to last year's team, all of whom lack Mitchell's immediate star power.

The Tigers should still be awfully good this season -- though they will be a young team dealing with the losses of J.T. Tiller, Zaire Taylor, and Keith Ramsey -- and if Mitchell can indeed come back for the second semester, the damage will be minimal. But academic ineligibility and a semester at junior college is no way to start a career, and no way for the Tigers to assert themselves at the top of a tough Big 12.