COLUMBIA, Mo. – It’s now official, after playing just 53 minutes and two full games in a Missouri uniform, Michael Porter Jr. has declared for the 2018 NBA Draft.
The Missouri freshman, who entered the year as the No. 1 rated player in the 2017 recruiting class on Rivals.com, made the announcement in an Instagram video. There the 6-foot-10 forward thanked his friends, family, coaches and teammates for the support he has received this year.
“Man it’s been a crazy here, but I feel so blessed to be in the position I’m at. I want to thank Mizzou Nation, my coaches and my teammates for the incredible support I’ve felt received ever since I committed to the university,” he said. “I wish I could’ve been on the floor with my brothers every single night, but I’m so thankful to have been part of such a special group. A special thank you goes out to my family ya’ll have been there for me through it all and I just want to let you know how much ya’ll mean to me.”
Porter, despite playing in just two full games for Missouri, is a projected Top-10 pick in this year’s draft. NBAdraft.net has Porter going No. 3 to Atlanta, CBSsports has him going No. 6 to Dallas and Draftexpress has him going No. 7 to Cleveland.
Still, those positions are a drop from the No. 1 or No. 2 overall pick he was projected to be early in the year. After sitting out nearly the entire season rehabbing from a Nov. 21 back surgery, his stock fell. He can still rise that stock before with pre-draft workouts.
The NBA Draft is June 21 at the Barclays Center, in Brooklyn, New York. Porter did not say, in his post, if he would hire an agent or not. If he does not hire an agent, he can return to Missouri, with eligibility, if he withdraws from the draft by May 30.
Porter’s time at Missouri was not what many expected, because of his back injury. He played two minutes of the Nov. 10 season opener against Iowa State and did not play again until the Southeastern Conference Tournament.
On Feb. 23, three months after he had back surgery, he returned to practice. He did not immediately return to game action.
With Missouri down to just seven scholarship players, after Cullen VanLeer’s torn ACL, heading into the SEC Tournament Porter said he was ready to play.
“He said, ’I want to help the team,’” Missouri coach Cuonzo Martin said after the team’s open practice at the SEC Tournament.
Missouri would go on to lose both postseason games Porter played in. He averaged 14 points, nine rebounds and shot 31 percent from the floor. Despite his return, he said he was not 100 percent healthy. He was closer to 65 or 70 percent.
He tallied his first double-double, in the NCAA Tournament loss to Florida State, scoring 16 points and pulling down 10 rebounds.
After the loss to Florida State, Porter didn’t regret his return, but said that he doesn’t think he helped the team while he was on the floor.
“We lost both games I played, so I don’t feel like I helped the team,” he said. “But I’m not looking back on it now.”
Porter came to Missouri with the goal of leaving a legacy at Missouri.
“This is my chance to make a mark on history. I can really make a difference in the history at Mizzou. I’m excited,” Porter told the Tribune in November.
Wearing a Missouri shirt in his Instagram post, Porter ended the announcement, and the Michael Porter Jr. year at Missouri, by saying: “With that being said, after talking it over with my coaches and my family I would like to announce that I am declaring for the 2018 NBA draft.”
With Porter leaving early, another scholarship opens up for Missouri to use in its 2018 recruiting class, if it wants.
Missouri currently has four commitments in that class including signees Torrence Watson, Javon Pickett and KJ Santos and a verbal commitment from Xavier Pinson.
With those commitments, Missouri has two open scholarships. That could change, if Porter’s brother, Jontay Porter, declares for the NBA as well.
As of Monday afternoon there has been no word on that decision, which Jontay Porter said had no timetable.
“I haven’t even thought about it. I just heard different people telling me about mock drafts and what not. I have a lot of things to weigh in,” Jontay Porter said after the team’s loss to Florida State. “I took as long as I could for the reclassify decision, so I’d imagine it will be a long process before I decided.”
Jontay Porter was named Co-SEC Sixth Man of the Year after averaging 9.9 points, 6.8 rebounds and 2.2 assists. Porter also shot 36 percent from deep in his freshman campaign.
Missouri did not release any information about Michael Porter Jr.’s announcement.