Swartz on sports: Michael Porter Jr.’s injury puts damper on Missouri’s season


(Photo via Wikipedia Commons)

Missouri fans likely won’t get to see five-star freshman Michael Porter Jr. play anymore games for the Tigers.

Swartz on sports, Gabe Swartz

It’s not even Thanksgiving, and one of college basketball’s would-be brightest stars, Missouri Tigers freshman forward Michael Porter Jr. has been declared out for the year with a spinal disc injury.

The five-star recruit who last played with Nathan Hale High School in Seattle, Wash. was ranked as the No. 2 player by ESPN’s basketball recruiting database for the 2017 recruiting class.

This news comes as a devastating blow for a Missouri Tiger fan base, which was starving for a successful basketball program after compiling a 27-67 record over the past three seasons. With Porter Jr. in town, expectations in Columbia, Mo. were through the roof prior to this season. Some Tigers fans went as far as to say they expected Missouri to play into the second weekend of the NCAA tournament, or even, the Final Four.

Sadly, for Porter Jr. and those in attendance for Missouri’s sold-out home-opener on Friday Nov. 10, the heralded freshman was only able to play 2 minutes, scoring 2 points and grabbing 2 rebounds. Porter Jr.’s college career will no doubt be a disappointment to everyone involved, as it will likely only be remembered by his 21-point performance in an exhibition game against Kansas at the Sprint Center on Oct. 22.

On Jan. 16 2016, as a junior at Father Tolton Catholic High School in Columbia, Mo., Porter Jr. played in the 810 Varsity Showcase at Johnson County Community College against our Blue Valley Northwest Huskies. In a game that tipped well after 10:30 p.m. on that Saturday night, Porter Jr. showcased his future NBA talent with a 34-point performance against the Huskies, including an alley-oop to himself off the backboard in the third quarter. Porter Jr. led all scorers for the game, and earned the Blazers a 58-53 win over the Huskies. 

Kansas City Star

What was clear on that January night is still clear today. Porter Jr. has elite, NBA-level talent. Early mock drafts for the upcoming NBA draft in June have him going somewhere in the top 5 picks. For Porter Jr.’s sake, the hope is that this injury isn’t career-threatening. As a potential top-five pick, he could have a lot of money to lose depending on how far he falls in the upcoming draft.

Meanwhile, for Porter Jr.’s teammates, life does indeed go on. For a program that sold-out its home-opener, they will have to continue this season without their heralded freshman. Whether Missouri finds themselves in the NCAA tournament or not come March, MU fans will be left to wonder what could’ve been had a healthy Michael Porter Jr. worn the black and gold for more than 120 seconds of play.