When asked if expected to fill his remaining scholarship for the 2017-18 Mizzou men’s basketball roster, coach Cuonzo Martin sat back with a smile and said, “Yes, I think so.”
As Martin addressed reporters for the second time this summer on Monday at Mizzou Arena, he couldn’t avoid the question circling Jontay Porter, a Class of 2018 Missouri commitment and brother of Tigers freshman Michael Porter Jr., the top player in the 2017 class.
Jontay Porter, a 6-foot-10 forward, is expected to reclassify to the Class of 2017 and play with his brother in Columbia this season. But the younger Porter said in May he will not announce a decision to reclassify until after the Peach Jam, which he competes in July 12-16 with his AAU team MOKAN in North Augusta, S.C. He is averaging 18.1 points per game and 12.6 rebounds on the Nike EYBL Circuit.
Martin did not mention Jontay Porter by name as NCAA rules prohibit coaches from commenting on recruits who haven’t signed a letter of intent.
“The biggest thing about recruiting is relationships,” Martin said. “In recruiting everybody is taking shots at somebody. You just have to sell what you have to sell and be genuine about it.”
Harris nearly 100 percent following wrist surgery
Freshman guard Blake Harris said he played his past two years of high school with a broken wrist. He refused to get surgery because he thought the injury would heal on its own.
Harris finally received treatment and had wrist surgery a month before arriving on campus. He has returned to participating in full practices and said he expects to be 100 percent in a few weeks.
Martin maximizing summer workouts
Per NCAA rules, Mizzou is limited to only two hours of team practice a week. Martin continues to stress raising the level of competition during scrimmages and putting in extra hours of individual work.
“The biggest thing we try to do in summer months is get guys to compete,” Martin said. “We implement a few things and watch film. There’s only so much you can do in two hours. So in the summer time, you see the guys willing to put the individual work in. The guys that get in extra shots, thousands of shots a day, a week … you see those guys make progress and all of a sudden you watch them in November, December and you see the results of their hard work.”
Nikko looks fresh off injury
Sophomore center Reed Nikko had double hip surgery last summer, but has looked injury-free according to Martin. Nikko averaged 2.5 points and 2.3 rebounds per game in 28 games in 2016-17.
“If I didn’t know that, then I would say he never had an injury the way he looks now,” Martin said. “He’s running the floor, he’s sprinting, he’s doing a great job with his lateral movement and trying to explode off the ground. The biggest key for him is sprinting the floor and try to play a faster pace.”
Smith not yet cleared for scrimmage
Sophomore forward Mitchell Smith continues to recover from knee surgery.
He hasn’t been cleared for contact, but Martin said Smith is coming along well during his individual workouts.
Smith saw limited action last season, playing in 11 games. He averaged 2.4 points and 1.7 rebounds.