University of Missouri

Missouri sophomore forward Jontay Porter declares for NBA Draft for second straight year

Missouri forward Jontay Porter
Missouri forward Jontay Porter KC Star file photo

The Porter era might be over at MU.

Mizzou forward Jontay Porter announced he will declare for the NBA Draft and sign with an agent after missing his sophomore season due to a torn right MCL and ACL.

Under new NCAA rules, Porter could still return for another season, but his injury history makes that unlikely. Porter re-tore his right ACL in late-March — after playing on the court before doctors had cleared him — and won’t be cleared to play until the end of the year. Despite missing the entire season, Porter is still a projected first-round draft pick, partly because the 2019 draft is weaker than in past years and his skill-set would seem to translate very easily to the pro level. Porter also had declared for the NBA Draft after his freshman season but elected to return to MU, saying at the time that he wasn’t sure he was ready for the lifestyle of a professional athlete.

Porter’s likely departure this time around would end an interesting two seasons for the family since returning to Columbia from Seattle. Jontay’s brother, Michael Porter Jr., played three games for Missouri after undergoing back surgery a game into his freshman season and declared for the 2018 NBA Draft shortly after the season. He was picked No. 14 by the Denver Nuggets and hasn’t played — since MU’s loss to Florida State in the 2018 NCAA Tournament — due to additional back issues.

Women’s forward Cierra Porter wrapped up her career with a loss to Iowa in the second round of the 2019 NCAA Tournament. Cierra, who had previously briefly retired due to knee issues, ended her career on a high note: She was named SEC sixth woman of the year and averaged 7.8 points and five rebounds per game on the season. The Porter’s oldest child Bri, medically retired in 2016 after suffering five ACL tears during her career.

Jontay Porter won’t be healthy enough to compete in any drills during May’s NBA Draft Combine. He had his second knee surgery just weeks ago, and multiple NBA scouts told The Star that his draft stock will ultimately come down to his medicals.

“I think regardless of the knee injuries, it’s best to go pro and hopefully get in a situation with a team that can be patient with him and help him get back to full strength and beyond,” the scout said. “He could still be a late first to early second (round) guy who you essentially redshirt for a year like Denver did with his brother.”

As a freshman in 2017-2018, Jontay Porter averaged 9.9 points per game and was named the SEC’s co-sixth man of the year as he helped lead Missouri to its first NCAA Tournament in five years, despite the absence of his older brother. Jontay had reclassified a year, skipping his senior season of high school to play with Michael Porter Jr. before his older brother’s injury. Jontay was expected to be the focal point of MU’s team this past season before blowing out his knee in a secret scrimmage and has been rehabbing in Denver for most of the season. Missouri finished the season 15-17 without him.

Should Jontay Porter remain in the draft, his departure would give Missouri two open scholarships to fill and potentially a coaching vacancy. Missouri assistant Michael Porter Sr., the Porters father, originally signed a three-year deal with MU in 2017 and still has a year remaining on his contract. He could leave Cuonzo Martin’s staff to help his children handle their pro careers, stay on until the contract runs out, or be assigned a new position in the program before the upcoming season.

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Alex Schiffer has been covering the Missouri Tigers for The Star since October 2017. He came in second place for magazine-length feature writing by the U.S. Basketball Writer’s Association in 2018 and graduated from Mizzou in 2017.