by Bradford Brooks
It all ended before it even started, after just two minutes of playing time in his anticipated debut, the promising freshman and potential lottery pick, Michael Porter Jr.’s, season came to an end. The freshman stud who was supposed to be the savior for the Missouri Basketball program will be sidelined due to a back injury, which will cost him his entire season.
The star freshman, Porter, will undergo a microdiscectomy of the L3-L4 spinal disks Tuesday with a projected recovery time of three to four months.The forward only appeared in the first game of the season against Iowa State and scored two points in two minutes.
The highly touted recruit was the No. 1 small forward and No. 2 player overall in the 2017 class, per 247Sports. He also finished in a three-way tie with Georgia’s Yante Maten and Texas A&M’s Robert Williams for the SEC’s Preseason Player of the Year.
A lot of scouts looked at Missouri as a pit stop for the highly touted freshman. Jay Williams of ESPN recently said Missouri’s Michael Porter Jr.’s injury further proves that players who have a chance to be a NBA top pick shouldn’t jeopardize it by playing in college.
Porter said before the season that he would consider coming back to Mizzou for a second season if things didn’t go the way he wanted this year. Porter’s father is an assistant coach for the Tigers, and his younger brother Jontay is also a forward on the team. It seems clear Porter has a special affinity for Mizzou.
Yet, there is still millions of dollars on the line.
The 2018 NBA Draft is loaded, and Porter was a big reason why. He was expected to compete with Arizona’s DeAndre Ayton, Duke’s Marvin Bagley, Texas’ Mohamed Bamba, and Slovenian prospect Luka Doncic to be the No. 1 overall pick in June’s draft.
Porter is talented enough to still be a high lottery pick even without any college game tape. NBA scouts have seen him at the McDonald’s All-American Game and Nike Hoop Summit. He is no mystery to the evaluators who have been tracking him closely for years.
Porter will be back, but college fans are missing out on watching one of the most dynamic players in the country this season.
Michael Porter Jr. was always a sure thing. If his back “checks out” he will still be a top five pick in June. Blessed with the height of a center (6’10), the slashing ability of a wing, and the touch of a guard, Porter entered college basketball looking like the prototype for the modern NBA combo forward at just 19 years old.
However, some prospects are not so gifted. For many who have dreams of going to the NBA the Porter injury might set a precedent for players to go pro before going to college.
Porter will bounce back, but this was likely our only chance to see him at the collegiate level and his absence could change the scope of college basketball forever.