COLUMBIA, Mo. – It’s official, Jontay Porter will return to Missouri for his sophomore season, the school announced Wednesday in a press release.
“We are excited that Jontay will return,” head coach Cuonzo Martin said in a statement. “He had a great experience going through the pre-Draft process, got the feedback that he needed to do what is best for him and he will learn from it to improve in all areas of his game. Jontay has the potential to make a big jump from his freshman season and he’ll be a great leader for us on and off the court next year.”
On April 5, Porter announced that he was declaring for the NBA Draft, but unlike his brother Michael Porter Jr., he did not hire an agent. Because Porter did not hire an agent, he had the choice to return to Missouri and retain his eligibility, if he withdrew from the NBA Draft by 11:59 p.m. ET on May 30.
Tuesday’s announcement came just nine hours before that deadline.
His decision to come back to school came nearly two weeks after the NBA Combine began. At the combine, Porter had mixed results.
Porter, who averaged 9.9 points, 6.8 rebounds, 2.2 assists and shot 36 percent from deep last season, did not compete in the scrimmages and struggled in some of the physical tests.
He entered the combine with the highest body fat percentage (13.85) according to NBA.com, he had the eighth worst lane agility time (11.90) and the slowest three-quarter sprint time (3.40).
What he had success with at the combine, is also what makes him an intriguing prospect and a dangerous big man for Missouri next season. Porter led all forwards in NBA left break shooting percentage, NBA corner right percentage and shot 60 percent from the top of the key.
At Missouri, Porter was a versatile forward who Martin used in different ways. He ran Porter through the pick-and-roll and the pick-and-pop at the top of the key.
Named the Southeastern Conference Co-Sixth Man of the Year in his freshman year, Porter exploded into one of Missouri’s most dangerous offensive weapons at the end of the season.
He scored in double figures in eight of the Tigers final 12 games of the season. Included in that streak was his most impressive game of the year at Vanderbilt on Feb. 27. With Missouri desperately needing a win to keep its NCAA Tournament hopes alive, Porter poured in 24 points on 9 of 10 shooting, seven rebounds and six assists.
In Missouri’s loss to Georgia, in the SEC Tournament, Porter was its only consistent scoring option. The freshman scored 20 points on 5 of 8 shooting.
Porter’s return also ensures that Missouri will have one of the most dangerous frontcourt duos in the SEC next season. Porter will pair with 6-foot-10 Jeremiah Tilmon, who averaged 8.2 points and 4.2 rebounds in his freshman year.
Both Porter and Tilmon rank among two of the best freshmen shot blockers in school history. Porter blocked 55 shots last season, only Johnathan Williams III (57) and Arthur Johnson (65) had more. Tilmon recorded 33 blocks, other than Williams and Johnson only Doug Smith had more with 34.