Missouri State’s Cuonzo Martin Creates “Winning” Basketball Roster For 2024-25


Missouri State's head men's basketball coach, Cuonzo Martin, has put together an impressive roster for the 2024-25 season. 14 promising new players have been added to the Bears' lineup, while just two players remain from the roster previously coached by Dana Ford prior to March this year. Among the new faces are a few young JUCO players, as well as nine with previous experience on college teams. Martin carefully assembled this new roster to pave the way for future success for the Bears, a team that hasn’t attended the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) Tournament since 1999. 


Assembling stand-out players for the 2024-25 season 

Martin added several high-ceiling players to the team, including Sam Murray II, who was previously at Missouri Valley Conference program, Murray State, for two seasons (2022-24). Murray II played a total of forty games during his time there. Six new Bears players also have a height advantage as they’re at least 6-foot-6 or more tall. Others like Mozae Downing-Rivers and Jalen Hampton are also promising JUCO transfers who look likely to make an impact from the very first minute of the season. 

"I like to think we have all the parts to be successful," Martin said. "We've got size, we've got perimeter play and we've got guys that can make a shot with some physical play on the inside. It's just a matter of putting them in a position where we can execute offensively, play with good spacing, score the ball and defend at the highest level possible”.  


The key to a winning team

Martin specifically focused on filling his team with “winners”. But what makes a winner exactly? A player will likely be successful if they already have one or two championship win’s under their belt. But, Martin says they’re more to it than that. Above all, players need to know how to work in a team. "You have to have the willingness to win," Martin explained. "You have to have a willingness and desire to be coached and grow”.


Missouri State's move to Conference USA 

2024-25 will also be Missouri State's last season in the Missouri Valley Conference before the team joins Conference USA in 2025-26. Martin noted that this upcoming move didn’t influence how he put his roster together. How he recruits for the next season after, however, may be another matter. Martin predicts that he’ll be frequenting Texas in order to put together future teams as there’s plenty of Conference USA schools in the state—all of which harbor top talent with the potential to take Missouri State to the next level.

“You're always going to try to get the best player you can get," Martin said. "We're going to try and recruit guys who might be high-major players, we're going to fight to get him. You might lose on him, but it might take him two years to develop and we'll get him better. It doesn't really change.”