University of Missouri

Jontay Porter opts to reclassify, join Mizzou for 2017-18 season

The long wait was worth it for Missouri basketball fans Wednesday when Jontay Porter announced he’ll join the Tigers for 2017-18.

Confirmation came via Twitter when Porter — whose older brother is Michael Porter Jr., the top prospect in the 2017 recruiting class who’s signing in April heralded a remarkable offseason transformation for the Tigers — tweeted his long-anticipated decision.

It didn’t take long for the Tigers —who already had the No. 8 recruiting class in the country for 2017 before adding Jontay Porter, according to 247Sports — to confirm the news.

“We’re very excited about Jontay’s decision, which was a big one for him and his family,” new MU coach Cuonzo Martin said in the school’s official release. “Jontay is certainly a talented basketball player, but his outstanding work in the classroom should not be overlooked. The ability to reclassify requires a serious commitment to your academics.

Jontay Porter waited until after former two-time NBA MVP Steph Curry’s SC30 Select Camp, which is only open to 2018 and 2019 prospects, wrapped up Tuesday with the inaugural SC30 Select Showcase on ESPNU in San Francisco.

Jontay’s brother, Michael Jr., was a two-time MVP at the SC30 Select Camp.

Paired up again as teammates, the Porter brothers, who have won back-to-back state in Missouri and Washington together, hope to help Mizzou snap a four-year NCAA Tournament drought.

But that goal remains many months away and this day belonged to Jontay Porter (6-11, 240), a left-handed stretch forward who decided to graduate from high school a year early and enroll at Mizzou for the fall semester.

“Mizzou is home, so first of all, I’m incredibly thankful for this opportunity to attend the University of Missouri,” Jontay Porter said in a release from MU athletics. “Coach Martin and his staff are awesome, and they are definitely one of the things I look forward to most about playing for Mizzou. Moving up to college will be an easy transition for me, especially with my family here in Columbia. Mizzou Basketball will be something really special, and I can’t wait to be a part of it.”

He was among the top performers on the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League circuit this summer, playing for Kansas City-based Mokan Elite after averaging 14.3 points and 13.6 rebounds last season as a junior with Nathan Hale High in Seattle.

This summer in EYBL, Porter averaged 18.1 points, shooting 44.2 percent from three-point range, and finished second in the league with 12.6 rebounds per game, which trailed only top 2018 prospect Marvin Bagley III.

With the addition of Porter — whose father, Michael Sr., is an assistant on new Tigers coach Cuonzo Martin’s staff — MU has reached its scholarship limit for the upcoming season.

He joins a remade frontcourt that also includes former Illinois signee Jeremiah Tilmon — a 6-foot-10 center from East St. Louis (Ill.), who was released by the Fighting Illini in March after John Groce’s firing.

“Jontay is a young man who takes pride in being a great teammate and communicator,” Martin said. “He has the skill and knowledge of the game to contribute from day one, at both ends of the floor. This is a homecoming for Jontay, who is already extremely familiar with Columbia, and we’re thrilled to have him in the Mizzou Basketball Family.”

Both Porter brothers were originally committed to Washington, where their godfather, Lorenzo Romar coached for 15 seasons before he was fired in March.

That prompted Michael Jr., who signed with the Huskies in November, to request a release from his national letter of intent and opened the door for Michael Sr. to return to Columbia, where he spent six seasons as an assistant on Robin Pingeton’s MU women’s basketball staff.

Porter Sr. is married to Pingeton’s sister, Lisa, and the couple’s eldest daughters, Bri and Cierra, play for the Tigers women.

Jontay de-committed from Washington shortly after Romar’s dismissal and gave his verbal pledge to the Tigers in May, kicking off a months-long wait to see if he’d reclassify into the 2017 recruiting class and join Martin’s squad for what is widely presumed to be Michael Jr.’s only collegiate season.

Michael Jr. is a top prospect in the 2018 NBA Draft.

That’s exactly what Jontay has decided to do, foregoing his final high school season and all that comes with it — the chance at a third straight state title and the possibility of playing in the McDonald’s All-American Game or other such events.

Playing alongside Michael Jr., Jontay helped Father Tolton Catholic in Columbia win the 2016 Missouri Class 3 championship and helped Nathan Hale High in Seattle win the 2017 Washington Class 3 title.

Now, Jontay will try to help resurrect a program that went 27-68 during the last three seasons, including a trio of last-place finishes in the SEC, as Mizzou aims to return to the NCAA Tournament after a four-year absence.

Jontay is a five-star prospect and ranked No. 19 overall and No. 7 at power forward, according to 247 Sports’ composite index.

Tod Palmer: 816-234-4389, @todpalmer