For the first time in more than three years, Missouri Tiger basketball fans have something to be excited about.
Michael Porter Jr. announced his commitment to the Tigers last week via his Twitter page and now he’s becoming Missouri’s lead recruiter.
Tonight Porter Jr. will take center stage in the McDonald’s All-American game, playing alongside the countries best high school basketball products.
Trae Young, committed to Lon Kruger’s Oklahoma Sooners, is a close friend of Porter Jr.’s and one of the top point guards in the country. Deandre Ayton, committed to Arizona, might be the countries best big man and a future NBA lottery pick.
Guys like Kevin Knox and Brandon McCoy on the other hand are still undecided as to what their future holds. Porter Jr. is making the most of his time in Chicago to pitch Columbia, Missouri to the future stars.
— Colton Pouncy (@CTPSports) March 27, 2017
“He’s been in my ear ever since he committed (to Mizzou),” Knox said Tuesday during his media session. “Every day, he texts me and makes sure that I stay in touch with him. It’s a possibility. You never know. I’ve got one more official. That could be it or it couldn’t be.”
Missouri only recently came on to many of these players radar as a possibility for their future destination. Of course when the nation’s top talent is playing for the school, it tends to attract attention.
“I just tell them, especially these dudes, let’s go do something special,” Porter told the media. “It can be our team and we can go in there and do something special and go to the NBA together whenever we decide to go after one or two years. Plus, I’m close with a lot of these dudes so I think they might like playing with me.”
The Tigers are getting attention from the national spotlight and that could work to head coach Cuonzo Martin’s advantage, when pitching Missouri to future recruits.
So where exactly do the Tigers stand right now with Porter Jr. on the roster? As of now with both Porter Jr. and C.J. Roberts, who may still opt out of his letter of intent, Missouri has one open scholarship to use.
However, with the possibility of roster turnover from Anderson’s departure, expect at least a couple of guys to transfer. The most likely names, who are on scholarship include Jordan Geist, Mitchell Smith, and Frankie Hughes. Assuming one or two of those guys transfer, they’ll have a couple of scholarships to fill.
The starting five for next season *at this point in time* should appear as follows; Terrence Phillips (PG), K.J. Walton (G), Jordan Barnett (F), Kevin Puryear (F), Michael Porter Jr. (F). Whether or not Missouri adds, loses, or flips other recruits, will change the look of the starting roster.
Kevin Knox – 5-star forward National Rank: 8
Uncommitted: Considering Duke, Kentucky, North Carolina
C. J. Roberts – 4-star guard National Rank: 98
Committed: Missouri (Unofficial Decision)
Roberts is a 4-star guard out of Dallas and a top-100 recruit still signed to play with the Tigers next season. Although, Roberts hasn’t made an official decision on if he will remain committed following Anderson’s firing. Martin met with the Roberts family this past Sunday to discuss Robert’s future with Missouri.
Roberts father told Tod Palmer of the Kansas City Star he was impressed by their meeting with Martin.
“Coach Martin is an extraordinary guy. He’s strong-minded and principled, and I think he’s going to do really well there. It’s not a matter of if he wins, it’s a matter of when,” Roberts Sr. said.
While the family is happy to see Porter Jr. also committed to Missouri, they remain cautious.
“It does no good to have NBA teams look at you if you’re not playing in a way that’s conducive to your talents and helps you look good,” Roberts Sr. told the Kansas City Star.
Jemarl Baker is another four-star recruit and top-100 guard, who’s looking for a new home after asking for a release from his letter of intent at Cal. Cal of course, is where Martin came from and the two have a close relationship.
The possibility exists there that Baker could have plans to re-join his future coach at Missouri, but it’s not likely they would sign both Baker and Roberts.
Mark Smith – 4-star guard IL Rank: 5 National Rank: 102
Uncommitted: Considering Illinois, Butler, Michigan State, Missouri
The Chicago Tribune named Smith Illinois Mr. Basketball following his standout year. Missouri is late in the recruiting process for this year, but Martin has reached out to Smith about the potential of joining the Tigers next season.
Jeremiah Tilmon – 5-star forward MO Rank: 8 National Rank: 27
Then there’s Jeremiah Tilmon, currently committed to Illinois under new head coach Brad Underwood. Underwood made what is probably one of the smarter moves since taking the job in retaining assistant Jamall Walker. Walker recruited Tilmon and by keeping him on staff, there’s a strong likelihood Tilmon remains committed to Illinois.
Though Porter Jr. is working on Tilmon too and for what it’s worth 247sports.com has Tilmon’s crystal ball at 67 percent Missouri.
Porter Jr. said Mizzou still needs to add size. Hasn’t given up on East St. Louis’ Jeremiah Tilmon: “I’m on him hard.” — Tod Palmer (@todpalmer) March 28, 2017
Jontay Porter – 4-star forward MO Rank: 2 (Class of 2018) National Rank: 32
Porter Jr.’s younger brother Jontay hasn’t decided on whether or not he will reclassify into the class of 2017 and join his brother at Missouri or go back to high school for one more year.
I just talked to Jontay Porter — he said he hasn’t made a decision yet if he’ll go Mizzou next year or play a senior year of HS ball. — Benjamin Hochman (@hochman) March 28, 2017
The younger Porter spoke with Daniel Jones of the Columbia Daily Tribune and said right now he’s leaning towards staying in high school.
“Obviously Mizzou, without really knowing anything, is probably the best situation for me right now just because my dad is the coach there,” he said. “But I really want to meet other coaches and get a feel for everything before committing if I do stay another year in high school. Otherwise I need to make a decision here pretty soon,” Porter said.
Blake Harris – 4-star guard National Rank: 124
Uncommitted: Considering Missouri, NC State, Rutgers, Michigan State
Harris, originally committed to Washington, also opted out of his LOI and is seeking a future school. Missouri is in the mix to land the guard because of his relationship with the Porters, but after an official visit to NC State and Martin’s meeting with Roberts, Harris postponed his visit to Missouri.
It’s likely Missouri will only get one of the three guards mentioned above on top of Roberts, all who would demand adequate playing time.