University of Missouri

Michael Porter Jr. commits to Mizzou: ‘I’m coming home’

Five things to know about Mizzou basketball recruit Michael Porter Jr.

Five things to know about Mizzou basketball recruit Michael Porter Jr., the nation's top-rated player in the Class of 2017.
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Five things to know about Mizzou basketball recruit Michael Porter Jr., the nation's top-rated player in the Class of 2017.

Michael Porter Jr. is coming home.

Porter Jr. — a senior forward at Nathan Hale High in Seattle and the nation’s top 2017 basketball prospect, according to ESPN and Rivals — committed Friday to Missouri.

He announced the decision on Twitter.

“Last week everything changed for me regarding my college basketball decision,” Porter Jr. wrote in a social-media post. “Realizing I would no longer have the opportunity to play for Coach (Lorenzo) Romar, I’ve taken the past seven days to give great consideration to my future.

“After a lot of thought, prayer, and talking with my family, I’m excited to announce that next year I will be attending the University of Missouri!

“I’m looking forward to the year ahead with Coach Cuonzo Martin and my new teammates… Together we hope to restore the atmosphere at Mizzou Arena.

“MIZZOU NATION I’M COMING HOME.”

Porter Jr. lived in Columbia from 2010-16, playing his first three high school seasons at Father Tolton Catholic High before moving to Seattle.

During the Missouri Class 3 championship game last March at Mizzou Arena, Porter Jr. scored 31 points with 19 rebounds in leading the Trailblazers to the title.

Tolton vs. Blue Valley Northwest (1-16-16)

In Seattle, Porter Jr. averaged 36.2 points, 13.6 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 3.2 steals and 2.7 blocks — helping the Raiders finish 29-0, win the Washington Class 3A state title and claim a mythical national title as the No. 1 team in USA Today’s Super 25.

Now, he becomes arguably the best high school prospect ever to commit to Mizzou basketball. Porter Jr. can’t officially sign until April 12, when the regular basketball signing period begins.

Porter Jr. was asked Wednesday during a teleconference announcing his selection as the Gatorade National Boys Basketball Player if it would be easier to return to Columbia for college after a year away.

“I don’t want to say easier, because people have a lot of expectations,” he said. “That’s not putting pressure on me, because I play for a bigger purpose, but, if I was to go back there, people expect me to bring them to the Final Four or championships and all that stuff I’ve been hearing. It doesn’t make it harder, but there’s definitely a lot of expectations. At the same time, it could be something really special.”

Porter Jr. also was the Naismith Prep Player of the Year for 2016-17.

His commitment is the latest in the avalanche of news surrounding the Tigers’ offseason transformation.

It started March 5 with Kim Anderson being asked to step down.

He was replaced March 15 by former California coach Cuonzo Martin, who almost immediately offered Porter Jr.’s father, Michael Porter Sr., a position on his staff in Columbia.

The University of Missouri announced the hiring of Cuonzo Martin as men's basketball coach on Wednesday, March 15. Get to know the former Missouri State, Tennessee and California head coach.

Porter Sr. accepted the job Thursday, a few hours after Washington confirmed it had released Porter Jr. from the national letter of intent he signed in November.

Officially, Porter Jr. is a 6-foot-9, 225-pound small forward, but he doesn’t like to be pigeon-holed.

“I view myself as a position-less player,” he said. “It’s just whatever my coach needs from me. If you want to play the two, the three or the four or the five, I’ll do it. If I get a rebound, and he wants me to push it up the floor as a one, I’ll do that as well. I’m looking for a situation where the coach isn’t going to put chains on me and is going to let me play my game, get up and down, and score a lot of points.”

Porter Jr., who said he loves comparisons between his game and that of seven-time NBA All-Star Tracy McGrady, used the last year in Seattle, playing for Nathan Hale coach Brandon Roy, to work on his ball-handling and working to gain strength.

New Missouri men's basketball coach Cuonzo Martin was introduced during a news conference on Monday at Mizzou Arena in Columbia.

“I feel like, on the wing, there’s not too many people that can stop me from getting to my spots,” Porter Jr. said. “That has a lot to do with ball-handling, so that’s a big area of improvement. My consistency with my shot-making and my footwork also has gotten a lot better.”

Those talents should help bolster a Mizzou team that struggled to score last season.

The Tigers ranked 230th in the country in adjusted offensive efficiency, according to kenpom.com, and ranked last in the SEC by a wide margin.

“I know Kevin Puryear real well (and) Terrence Phillips,” Porter Jr. said. “The guys that came in last year I know real well, too. They’re cool dudes.”

Soon, they’ll also be teammates.

Tod Palmer: 816-234-4389, @todpalmer

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