After a much-hyped commitment to the University of Missouri, the reclassification of his brother to play alongside him in Columbia, and the hiring of his father as an assistant coach to new head coach Cuonzo Martin, the high-flying Michael Porter Jr. will miss the rest of the college basketball season because of a back injury that will require surgery, the school announced Tuesday.
The surgery, described as “a microdiscectomy of the L3-L4 spinal discs” requires a recovery period of three to four months. By the time Porter, a dynamic 6-foot-10 small forward, is healthy, it’ll be March, and there will be no reason for him to return to the college game and risk further injury.
Now, NBA teams looking to take Porter in next year’s draft will have to make their decisions based on only practice tape, a McDonald’s All American Game reel, and Missouri’s preseason game against Kansas, at least until he begins predraft workouts. Every other prospect will have hours of game footage available, but Porter will also have a few dunk highlights to his name, which, frankly, might be enough to keep him in the top five.
Michael Porter Jr Off the backboard between-the-legs dunk! pic.twitter.com/npjkzjWce5— PlayerPlug (@PlayerPlug) October 5, 2017
But this injury is a red flag for teams that were already worried about Porter’s health. The forward missed the Jordan Brand Classic with back soreness in April as well.
Multiple NBA GM's have told me that, as long as Michael Porter Jr.'s back checks out come June, still likely a top 5 overall pick.— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) November 21, 2017
Porter, the second-ranked recruit of this year’s class behind Marvin Bagley III, played a total of two minutes during Missouri’s season opener against Iowa State. During those two opening minutes, Porter grabbed two rebounds and made a field goal.
Porter exited the game and never returned. His college career lasted all of two minutes. The school announced he wouldn’t travel with the team before their road game to Utah, which they lost, 77-59. On Monday, it was reported he would be seeing a specialist.
Porter was supposed to be a transcendent talent who could vault the Tigers back into the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2013. Now, he’ll have to watch from the sideline and prepare for the NBA instead, while professional scouts, much like they did with Markelle Fultz and Ben Simmons, will have to do without seeing him in March Madness.