Missouri freshman Michael Porter Jr. is unanimously projected to be one of the top picks in the 2018 NBA draft. We had him at No. 2 in our first projection this summer, while ESPN briefly put him at No. 1 in its initial mock.
Point is, everyone expects Porter to be a one-and-done. Everyone but Michael Porter Jr., that is.
While meeting with reporters at SEC Media Day on Wednesday, Porter emphasized the fact that he’s considering spending more than one year with the Tigers.
MPJ: "Everybody thinks I'm not serious when I say that, but I actually might spend more than one year in college." pic.twitter.com/axbAAUDZsq— Colton Pouncy (@CTPSports) October 18, 2017
"Everybody thinks I'm not serious when I say that, but I actually might spend more than one year in college."
Porter said his main goal is to “leave a legacy” at Mizzou, and that he would consider returning for his sophomore year if the team struggles. Missouri hasn’t made the NCAA tournament in five years.
Would Porter really bypass the draft for an extra year of college? It sounds far-fetched, but it’s not impossible.
Porter’s family has deep ties at Mizzou
Porter Jr. arrived at Mizzou as the top recruit in the country after decommiting from Washington when head coach Lorenzo Romar was fired in March. Porter’s father — previously an assistant under Romar at Washington — was quickly hired as an assistant by new Mizzou coach Cuonzo Martin.
Porter’s younger brother Jontay Porter then reclassified up a season to join Michael as a freshman on this year’s team. Porter also has two sisters at the school who play for the women’s basketball team.
For a player who grew up next to campus in Columbia, getting the Tigers to break their NCAA tournament drought clearly means a lot. Porter saw the last two No. 1 picks in the NBA draft — Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz — each miss the NCAA tournament during their one-and-done years with LSU and Washington, respectively. He doesn’t want that trend to stretch for a third year.
There is some precedent for top prospects returning to school
Michigan State’s Miles Bridges and Texas A&M’s Robert Williams were each projected as lottery picks in June’s draft. Both decided to return for their sophomore years instead.
Still, Porter isn’t just a lottery pick. He might go No. 1 overall. The last time a potential No. 1 pick returned to school was Joakim Noah in 2006. Before that, you might have to go all the way back to Tim Duncan at Wake Forest in 1996.
If Porter lives up to the hype, it’s going to be very hard to pass up the opportunity waiting for him in the NBA.
Expect Michael Porter Jr. to be a one-and-done
Here’s two predictions for you:
- Michael Porter Jr. will enter the 2018 NBA draft and be a top-three pick along with Duke’s Marvin Bagley III and Slovenian prospect Luka Doncic.
- Missouri will make the NCAA tournament
There are questions for the Tigers to be sure, especially in the backcourt, but their sheer talent level is likely high enough to break the drought. We had Missouri as the No. 25 team in the country in our preseason countdown.
Even if Missouri does miss the tournament, Porter should be gone. He’s everything the NBA wants in a combo wing: athletic, 6’10, capable of shooting from distance, and scoring off the dribble. Porter is the type of player who probably didn’t need to spend one year in college if not a rule mandating it.
It’s nice for Tigers fans to hear Porter is considering coming back for a second year, but it just isn’t realistic. That will be perfectly OK with Missouri as long as Porter can make this season count.