IF you are a casual basketball fan, I’ll forgive you for not knowing who Micahel Porter Jr is. Most of you would have heard of the 6′ 10″ Missouri freshman before though, the top-ranked recruit has been sidelined with a back injury since November. Yesterday, Porter addressed the media stating “there’s a good chance” he plays again before the Tigers’ season concludes. But should he even bother?
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THE No. 2 ranked prospect in last years top 100 has just 127 seconds of collegiate game time next to his name missing the majority of the season after undergoing lower back surgery just weeks into his Missouri career. It was expected that he would be out for the entire year, but Porter said he is “feeling better every day” on Friday and was hopeful “the doctor feels the same way” about his return to the court.
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STILL just a 19-year old kid, I can understand Porter’s desire to return to the court. All he wants to do is get out there and play and help his team win. Before the season he was projected to be the No. 1 pick come draft night. Since then his stock has slipped to outside the top five, with the likes of Deandre Ayton, Marvin Bagley and Trae Young all blowing up mock drafts along with international prospect Luka Doncic. Being drafted 6th or 7th overall won’t change Porter’s pro career, but you can understand his desire to re-establish himself as the best player in the class.
IF he does get fit enough to play, returning to the court might blow up in his face, with another injury guaranteed to set off alarm bells for NBA GM’s. His suspect back injury might already be a red flag for teams and if he returns to the court and either looks off or reinjures himself then his draft stock will only slide further. Right now he holds all the cards as everyone can only base him on what we have seen through his young career. If he stays on the shelf for the whole season and focuses on getting 100% right for next year, that alone might tempt a GM to use a top three pick on him.
CURRENTLY, the Tigers are sitting fourth in the SEC at 16-8 with seven conference games left. Following their scheduled games the SEC tournament looms in a month’s time and then obviously the NCAA tournament follows that. Porter hasn’t yet been cleared for practice and it’s likely that if he was going to play meaningful minutes in the tournaments, he will need a few games to find his fitness and rhythm.
YOU can’t knock him for wanting to play and after believing his season was done in November the light at the end of the tunnel is exciting for Porter. It’s time to think big picture though. Yes, everyone who plays Div 1 ball wants to make it to the tourney and obviously play as much as possible. For Porter, there is just too much at stake to return to the court this season. Get healthy, get drafted and then you can show the world what you’re made of.
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