Cuonzo Martin will restock Missouri's threadbare roster, but will NCAA bids follow?

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Cuonzo Martin's Cal Bears had a cushy start to the season. (Getty)
Cuonzo Martin (Getty)

At a time when Missouri needs to revitalize its floundering men’s basketball program, the Tigers are taking a chance on a coach with a respectable track record, strong regional ties and a habit of moving around every few years.

They’ve plucked Cuonzo Martin away from Cal after three seasons in Berkeley.

Cal announced Wednesday afternoon that Martin had resigned to pursue other positions. Missouri has not confirmed his hiring, but and other outlets reported he’ll receive a seven-year deal worth a little over $21 million.

Martin arrives with expectations for the Missouri basketball program at an all-time low. Predecessor Kim Anderson finished last in the SEC all three seasons as head coach and lost an average of more than 22 games per season. The former Division II coach and Missouri alum also struggled to keep any of the top in-state talent home or land any coveted prospects from elsewhere, leaving his teams shorthanded in SEC play.

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Recruiting should be much less of an issue for Martin, a native of East St. Louis, Ill. with plenty of connections throughout the Midwest and a long history of getting players. At Cal, he landed a pair of McDonald’s All-Americans in the 2015 class, nabbing local product Ivan Rabb and his good friend from the AAU circuit Jaylen Brown. Martin also almost landed All-American candidate Caleb Swanigan, but he eventually chose Purdue over the Bears.

Where Martin has sometimes struggled is getting the most out of his talent. Only twice in nine years as a head coach has he made the NCAA tournament.

In Martin’s final season at Tennessee in 2014, his team snuck into the field of 68 via the First Four and then took advantage of a dream draw, beating fading Iowa, UMass and Mercer to reach the Sweet 16. Two years later, a talent-laden Cal team featuring three McDonald’s All-Americans and fourth player taken in the NBA draft underachieved during the regular season and lost to 12th-seeded Hawaii in the NCAA tournament.

Martin’s Cal teams defended cohesively, rebounded and consistently played hard, but he seldom figured out how to get the ball to his best players in positions to score. This year’s team was 162nd in offensive efficiency despite presence of skilled players like Rabb, Jabari Bird, transfer Grant Mullens and freshman point guard Charlie Moore.

Martin has a track record of only staying three years in one place, from Missouri State, to Tennessee, to Cal.

It’s a safe bet Missouri will be better than it is today three years into Martin’s tenure, but there are no guarantees he’ll stick around any longer than that.

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Jeff Eisenberg is the editor of The Dagger on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!