Michael Porter Jr. despondent after loss to Florida State in NCAA Tournament
While Missouri men's basketball awaits the decisions of Michael and Jontay Porter, as they debate whether to enter the NBA Draft or return to the Tigers for their sophomore seasons, assessing the Mizzou roster for 2018-19 is difficult.
Michael Porter Jr. said Friday, after Missouri’s first-round loss to Florida State in the NCAA Tournament, that it would be “a while” before he made a decision. His younger brother Jontay wasn’t far behind, saying he wants to decompress before making a decision.
“Spring break is coming up, so I’ll probably relax at the beach,” Jontay Porter said. “I’ll probably sit down with my parents and see what my options are.”
Jontay Porter could benefit from a sophomore year of college, especially after skipping his senior year of high school to reclassify and play with his brother, a projected top-five NBA pick this summer.
After starting the season off NBA radars, Jontay has emerged as a potential first-round pick after averaging 10 points a game and stuffing the stat-sheet with assists and rebounds.
Jontay Porter said he thinks he can’t go wrong in his decision.
“Just like me deciding to reclassify here it will be a win-win regardless of what I do,” he said. “I’ll get better at the sport regardless of what I do and coming back to Mizzou would be a real treat. It would be good for me. Get my body right. Get my game better and be a better team next year.”
For now, Missouri enters next season as a team with some returning talent and some help on the way.
Freshman Jeremiah Tilmon said after Friday’s game that he won’t test NBA Draft waters. Junior Kevin Puryear, from Blue Springs, will return alongside fellow juniors Jordan Geist and Cullen VanLeer. Sophomore big man Reed Nikko will also be in the fold.
And Missouri will add some young talent on the wing and much-needed help at point guard.
Torrence Watson and Javon Pickett are both signed for 2018 and can help replace the scoring on the wing that Missouri will lose in graduate transfer Kassius Robertson and senior Jordan Barnett.
Forward K.J. Santos comes to Columbia with three years of eligibility remaining after redshirting at a junior college this season. He started his career at Illinois-Chicago. Missouri’s staff is very high on Santos and thinks he can make an immediate impact.
Missouri also has Chicago point guard Xavier Pinson committed to the program and he is expected to sign in the April late-signing period. The Tigers will likely add another point guard, with Geist currently the only one on the roster, and St. Louis floor general Courtney Ramey has a good chance to take that spot.
Should both Porters return, Missouri is likely ranked in the preseason top-10 and could make a deep postseason run. If Jontay Porter returns for his sophomore season and Porter Jr. declares for the draft, a more realistic scenario, Missouri is likely a tournament team again.
If both Porters turn pro it will be tough to gauge how the Tigers look until the take the floor next November.
Despite the uncertainty, Puryear remains optimistic.
“Whoever returns, we’re going to be glad who we have,” Puryear said. “We have a lot of talent. Still a bright future for Missouri basketball.”