Missouri’s women’s basketball could be without one of its best players next season, as the program enters the final year of the Sophie Cunningham era.
Tigers coach Robin Pingeton said Tuesday at a Coaches Caravan stop, a statewide promotional tour for the athletic department, that senior-to-be Cierra Porter is pondering a medical retirement because of ongoing knee issues. Porter is also Pingeton's niece.
“We haven’t hit that landing spot yet,” Pingeton said of a decision. “We’ve had a lot of dialogue. She’s a big part of what we’ve got. We love her to death. Just trying to figure out what’s in her best interest. If she does come back we have to be mindful of that mileage.”
Mileage is something Pingeton has spoken about often when talking about Porter, Missouri’s 6-foot-4 forward, who would enter next season just four points shy of reaching 1,000 for her career. She has averaged 10.6 points and seven rebounds a game and was a SEC all-freshman selection in 2016.
Throughout her career, Porter, the older sister of Michael Jr. and Jontay Porter, has had to limit practice and offseason workouts to play the entire season.
She’s had multiple knee surgeries and Pingeton said Porter will likely need a knee replacement.
“There’s nothing you can do,” Pingeton said. “It’s bone on bone. Every practice, every game there’s typically some swelling in there. She’s spent a lot of time icing it. You’re so limited on what you can really do on that.”
Her older sister, Bri Porter, retired from the Tigers before the start of last season because of multiple ACL tears on both knees.
If Cierra Porter decides to medically retire, Missouri’s frontcourt will look a lot different. The Tigers lost fifth-year senior forwards Jordan Frericks and Kayla Michael to graduation and Porter has been a starter since her freshman year.
Missouri would have to rely heavily on junior-to-be Hannah Schuchts and sophomore Emmanuelle Tahane in the frontcourt next season. Both played limited minutes off the bench.
Pingeton said she will likely fill the vacancy on her coaching staff before the start of the season, but doesn’t have a timetable.
Missouri went last season one coach short after Pingeton saw former player Raeshara Brown depart her staff for personal reasons. After Brown left, Pingeton said she talked to some candidates but postponed the hire after her father died in June.
Pingeton said she’s been focused on recruiting since the season ended but hopes to make the hire a priority soon.
“I’ve got in my mind the direction I want to go with it,” she said. “I’ve not been in a hurry as a staff but timing wise it’s been challenging.”
According to Pingeton, Frericks has yet to sign a professional contract but expects that to change within the next month.
Frericks went to a players' combine at the Final Four and Pingeton thought she had a good showing for a post player.
Pingeton said she’s very confident Frericks could land a contract playing overseas, but there’s also a chance she lands in a training camp for a WNBA team.