Jontay Porter’s sophomore season is over before it started. The rising Missouri center tore his ACL and MCL during a secret scrimmage against Southern Illinois over the weekend, and will miss the full campaign as he recovers from surgery.
Porter was expected to be one of the very best players in the sport. He reclassified to enter Mizzou a year early at the onset of last season, joining his older brother Michael Porter Jr. and putting sky-high expectations on the Tigers. Michael wound up appearing in only three games because of a back injury, but his absence gave Jontay an opportunity he was able to make the most of.
The younger Porter stood out for being a 6’11 big man who could knock down three-pointers and pass like a guard on offense while also being able to protect the rim on defense. His per-game numbers were modest (9.9 points, 6.8 rebounds. 2.2 assists, 1.7 blocks per game), but his impact wasn’t. By the end of the season, he was Mizzou’s most important player and was drawing buzz as a potential first round NBA draft pick.
Porter ultimately decided to go back to school, and was set to be one of the most hyped players in college hoops this season. This injury is devastating in so many ways.
Porter may have been a first round pick in 2018
We had Jontay Porter projected as a first round pick in June until he decided to pull his name out. That wasn’t a consensus projection by any means, but it was possible because his skill level fit so well into what the NBA demands out of its big men in the modern age.
The Porter family is obviously invested heavily in Missouri’s success. Jontay’s father Michael Porter Sr. is a highly paid assistant coach at the school who was hired in large part because he could land both of his sons as a recruiter. The Porters also aren’t hurting as much for money as most other families.
Still: Jontay Porter had NBA millions in front of him in June, and chose to come back to college. To see this type of injury under those circumstances is so sad. When the money is in front of you, it takes an incredible belief in yourself and your university to pass it up.
Porter could have been a lottery pick in 2019
We had Porter projected as the No. 11 overall pick in our early 2019 NBA mock draft. ESPN had him at No. 13. The expectations for Porter this year were clear: become one of the best centers in the country this year for Mizzou and then go on to be a high first round draft pick.
Unlike last year’s draft, the 2019 draft looks like it’s going to be light on big men. Porter was expected to be in contention for the first center off the board, with Oregon freshman Bol Bol and Arkansas sophomore Daniel Gafford as his main competition.
This injury is so crushing on a personal level for Porter and his family, but it’s also a bummer for NBA teams who needed a young big. There’s no telling where Porter will be drafted should he still declare in June, but it feels like he’d be lucky to be a first round pick and will have no chance of going in the lottery after the injury.
The Porter family can’t catch a break with injuries
The Porter family is full of hoopers, but all of them have had to deal with terrible injuries in their young careers:
Porter injuries from oldest to youngest:— Edward Cameron Redler (@CameronRedler) October 22, 2018
Bri - Five torn ACLs, medically retired.
Cierra - Multiple knee surgeries, medically retired.
Michael - Two back surgeries, played three games (really two) at Missouri.
Jontay - Torn ACL and MCL.
Family can't catch a break. @KOMUsports
Michael Porter Jr. is the most striking example. He was considered by some as the top recruit in the country one year ago entering Mizzou, and was projected as high as No. 1 overall in some early NBA mock drafts. He was never healthy as a freshmen, leaving the court just two minutes into Missouri’s first game with a back injury and returning only to play two uninspiring games in the post season.
Michael still went No. 14 overall in the NBA draft, but that was considered a massive slide given his preseason hype.
The Porter boys also have two older sisters who played for Missouri: Bri and Cierra Porter. Both of them had to medically retire because of knee injuries. Just awful.
Missouri is one of the most tortured fanbases in college sports
A year ago, Missouri viewed Michael Porter Jr. as a potential savior who could get the Tigers back to being one of college basketball’s premier programs. His injury was one of the saddest developments in college basketball over the last few years. The only silver lining was that Jontay was able to establish himself and even decided to come back for his sophomore year.
So much for that.
Ever since the Frank Haith debacle, Missouri fans have been desperate for a winner. This is one of college basketball’s most passionate fanbases. The arrow was clearly pointing in the right direction under head coach Cuonzo Martin.
Then Michael Porter Jr.’s injury hit. Now it’s Jontay.
Stay strong, Mizzou fans. The Tigers will still have a quality team this year, but losing the star player before the season even begins is a huge bummer in every way.