Archive for Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Former Piper cager picks Mizzou over Kentucky

Chieftains did not face Criswell last year; senior finishing out prep career in Virginia

November 23, 2004

Leo Criswell is going from Pirate to Tiger.

The former Piper basketball standout, however, has taken a couple of interesting steps along the way.

Criswell signed a national letter of intent with Missouri last Wednesday, but earlier last week verbally committed to Tubby Smith at Kentucky.

According to rivals.com, Criswell wanted to play at Kentucky, but his mother refused to sign the papers.

She wanted him to play closer to their home in Kansas City, Kan.

Mizzou certainly fit that request.

Criswell, a 6-8 200-pound forward, was leading Piper last year in the Kaw Valley League as a junior, but he transferred to Coastal Christian Academy in Virginia Beach, Va., for his senior year of high school.

According to ScoutHoops.com, Criswell left the KVL for the East Coast because he "decided to make the move to Coastal Christian for better competition."

ScoutHoops.com rated Coastal Christian as the No. 23 prep team in the nation last year.

Criswell plans to play for Quin Snyder's Missouri Tigers in the new Paige Sports Arena on the MU campus. But, as was the case with his intentions for Kentucky, that wasn't his premium choice.

And, in a file photo on the ScoutHoops Web site from last season, Criswell is wearing a Jayhawk headband with his Piper uniform.

Last year, Criswell averaged 18 points and 10 rebounds for the Pirates last year. Criswell was on a Piper squad that went 16-7 overall and placed second in the Kaw Valley League.

In one of those wins, against Tonganoxie, however, Criswell wasn't in the lineup.

Criswell, who missed some games for academic reasons, didn't suit up against the Chieftains.

"I don't know how dominant he was in our league because he missed so many games," THS coach David Walker said.

Last season, rumors swirled that Criswell had a full-ride scholarship to Oklahoma State, while another rumor had Criswell headed to Marquette.

"He looks like a kid searching for a place," Walker said.

Missouri was 16-14 last year. The Tigers ended the season with a first-round loss in the NIT to Michigan. Mizzou is on three-years probation that strips MU of some scholarships but still allows the Tigers to play in the postseason.

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