Cuonzo Martin on how Jontay Porter benefited from testing the NBA Draft waters
Missouri sophomore men’s basketball player Jontay Porter tore the ACL and MCL in his right knee during a secret scrimmage Sunday against Southern Illinois and is out for the season.
Porter tested the NBA Draft waters this spring but decided to return to school for his sophomore year. He participated in the Mizzou Madness preseason event Saturday and showed athleticism and quickness, dunking a ball in the 10-minute scrimmage.
A source who saw it happen said the injury on Sunday occurred while Porter was driving to the basket. A defender reached for the ball from behind him and caught his right arm. Porter fell backward with his right leg planted on the court and his left in midair. His right knee buckled and folded.
The 6-foot-11 forward‘s family has a history of injuries. His oldest sister, Bri, sustained five ACL tears throughout her high school and college career before medically retiring at Missouri. Second-oldest sister Cierra retired because of chronic knee issues in June, a year shy of finishing her eligibility.
And the most well-known of the Porters, Michael Porter Jr., saw his Mizzou career limited to three games after undergoing back surgery last November. He was subsequently drafted in the first round by the Denver Nuggets.
Jontay Porter earned a place on the SEC’s all-freshman team after averaging 9.9 points and 6.8 rebounds a game last season. He also earned co-SEC sixth man of the year honors.
Porter has had tendonitis in his knees for years, which he said has limited him in practice in the past. He said Saturday that his knees have felt better lately, and they did not bother him at Mizzou Madness. He credited director of athletic performance Nicodemus Christopher with helping strengthen his knees.
With the 2018-19 season about to start, Porter was projected as a top-10 NBA Draft pick. The 2019 draft is considered a weaker one than last year’s, which could keep Porter in the first round, and a knee injury, even one involving the ACL, is less of a red flag than back surgery.
“It puts in a very,very tough position,” an NBA scout told The Star. “Because he has to come back now. He came back to school for a reason.”
Scouts can’t comment on the players they evaluate. The scout said Porter could still come out in the spring and be taken a lot lower than his projected spot or come back for what would be his redshirt sophomore season and try to play his way back into the top 10. New NBA Draft rules allow undrafted players who were invited to the league’s scouting combine to return to school. Porter could go that route as well.
With Porter and 6-foot-10 forward Jeremiah Tilmon on the roster, Missouri was expected to have a dominant pair of big men this season. Earlier this fall, point guard Jordan Geist said the Tigers have “the best bigs in America.”
Porter’s ability to play down low and make outside shots made him a potent weapon for the Tigers last season. Missouri’s roster has four other forwards on scholarship.
Tigers senior Kevin Puryear could take Porter’s spot back at power forward after previously expecting to play more wing this season. Junior college transfer KJ Santos could help at forward, though he has been limited with a foot injury. Missouri also filed appeal waivers to the NCAA requesting immediate eligibility for transfer guards Mark Smith and Dru Smith.