Michael Porter Jr. Done for Season & So Are Missouri’s Final Four Hopes

Matthew Jordan

Tuesday, November 21, 2017 7:48 PM UTC

Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2017 7:48 PM UTC

Big news out of college basketball as highly-touted Missouri freshman Michael Porter Jr. is expected to miss the entire season due to back surgery. What’s the betting fallout?

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Schools like Duke, North Carolina Kentucky and Arizona landing top-ranked recruiting classes is old news. They are annually among the favorites to win the national title in college basketball because their coaches are fantastic recruiters, and nothing is likely to change in the foreseeable future.

The University of Missouri landing a Top 5 class and arguably the No. 1 overall recruit in basketball is a stunner. But that’s what new Mizzou coach Cuonzo Martin had entering the 2017-18 season. His freshman class was highlighted by forward Michael Porter Jr., considered by many the top recruit in the country and a potential No. 1 overall pick in next year’s NBA Draft (Duke’s Marvin Bagley is in the argument for both).

Why would Porter Jr. go to a school that hasn’t had a winning record since 2014 and that finished 8-24 last year under former coach Kim Anderson? Porter Jr. was originally committed to Washington, where his father Michael Sr. was an assistant to Lorenzo Romar. However, UW fired Romar last March and when Martin took the Missouri job he hired Michael Porter Sr. as his assistant. Porter Sr. also had ties to Missouri as he was previously an assistant coach for the women's basketball team there under his sister-in-law, Robin Pingeton, from 2013-16. So, Porter Jr. clearly was going to play where his daddy was.

In addition, Porter Jr.’s younger brother Jontay, a Top-15 recruit in the Class of 2018, reclassified this summer into the Class of 2017 so his could play with his brother. The thinking was that this would be the only season that Michael would play NCAA basketball.

It turns out, Michael Porter Jr. could play just two minutes in his Missouri career. In the season opener, the 6-foot-10 Porter appeared to injure his hip against Iowa State. Missouri was very quiet about the whole injury when Porter missed the next three games, calling him day-to-day with a leg injury. Now we know why so vague: Porter had surgery on Nov. 21 in Dallas, a procedure called a microdiscectomy of the L3-L4 spinal discs that will likely cause Porter Jr. to miss the season. You don’t rush back from spinal surgery.

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I have resigned myself to the probability that the Michael Porter, Jr. era lasted all of 2 minutes. The greatest recruit in Mizzou history couldn't even make it to the first media timeout of the season. This is the life of a Mizzou fan.

— Flip Courter (@FlipCourter) November 21, 2017

It’s nothing short of a devastating blow for Missouri, which before this news had been +1600 at BetOnline to win the school’s first basketball national championship (now +3000). It has never reached even a Final Four. It was conceivable to think that the Tigers could beat out Kentucky for the SEC title. Not now.

This also has major 2018 NBA Draft ramifications for all those tanking teams like the Bulls, Hawks, Mavericks, etc. Would Porter Jr. dare enter the draft off major surgery after barely playing NCAA basketball?

This isn’t to say Missouri can’t make the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2013 or win a game in the Big Dance for the first time since 2010. Jontay Porter is a good player. Martin also brought in two other Top 100 freshmen in Jeremiah Tilmon and point guard Blake Harris. In addition, Canisius graduate transfer Kassius Robertson has been terrific in the early going and is the team’s second-leading scorer. Mizzou also returned its top three scorers from last year in Jordan Barnett, Kevin Puryear and Terrence Phillips.

You might still have a good season, Tigers fans. Just not a historic one.

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