The future of Mizzou basketball suddenly looks a lot better after Michael Porter Jr. committed to the school on Friday afternoon.
After the untimely departure of Frank Haith and the subsequent disaster of a three-year run that accompanied Kim Anderson’s tenure as head coach, the Missouri Tigers basketball program was arguably in as bad of shape as it’s ever been as the 2016-17 season came to a close. But as French Montana might say after the events of the past week, things are suddenly looking “all the way up.”
Small forward Michael Porter Jr., the top recruit in the Class of 2017 according to ESPN and Rivals.com, officially announced his commitment to Mizzou on Friday afternoon, capping off an eventful week for the Tigers:
Porter Jr. follows his father, Michael Porter Sr., to Missouri after his dad officially joined Cuonzo Martin’s coaching staff on Thursday evening. Porter Sr. and head coach Lorenzo Romar (who is Porter Jr.’s godfather) were fired at the University of Washington last Friday, the same day as Mizzou hired Martin to succeed Anderson as the program’s head coach.
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On that same day, rumors began circulating that Porter Sr. would join Martin’s staff, returning to the school at which he served as a women’s basketball assistant for six years before heading to Washington last summer.
Porter Jr., who had earlier committed to and signed a letter of intent with Washington, was released from his NLI earlier this week, and heavy speculation immediately indicated that he’d come to Mizzou–far from a surprise considering that he spent a large chunk of his formative years in Columbia. While he spoke earlier this week about his interest in Oklahoma and Virginia while also leaving open the possibility that he’d attend Washington, he confirmed that speculation that he’d attend Mizzou on Friday.
While his skill level almost certainly is not as high as that of the eight-time All-Star, two-time gold medalist, and 2014 NBA MVP, the prominent NBA player who Porter Jr. most closely resembles in terms of size and style is Kevin Durant. The 6-foot-10, 212-pounder may become just as big of an NBA Draft prospect as Durant was back in 2007; many prognosticators are already predicting that Porter Jr. will be the top pick in the 2018 draft.
Even if Porter only stays for a year, the impact of his presence should be massive as Martin seeks to build a competitive program. Having a guy who might be a top five pick in the NBA Draft in a year’s time will signify to future recruits that they might be able to achieve the same type of feat by playing at Mizzou, and particularly if Porter can take the Tigers on a deep NCAA tournament run, that will create invaluable visibility for the Mizzou program.
There’ll be plenty of rumblings about him following his dad around the country, but no one can accuse Porter Jr., who is being home schooled while living in Seattle, of picking a school just to be close to a significant other; he’s dating actress Madison Pettis, whose list of credits includes Barney & Friends, Cory in the House, and The Game Plan.