NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. — Bad news first, Missouri basketball fans: 5-star forward Jontay Porter is going to keep torturing you a little while longer.
Now the good news: It would be a massive upset if he doesn’t ultimately (and soon) make it official and reclassify from 2018 to 2017 and play for the Tigers this season, alongside his No. 1-ranked brother, Michael. Even if on Friday he (sort of) walked back his comments to CBS Sports earlier in the week about it being “a safe assumption” he’ll do just that.
“Not necessarily final,” Porter told SEC Country here at Peach Jam. He claims the quote, while accurate, was blown out of proportion. “The decision is not made whatsoever. Yeah, I might be leaning toward that, but I haven’t committed to that, I haven’t told (new Mizzou coach Cuonzo Martin) or anything like that. I still have time to figure it out until the fall semester.”
So what in the world is the hold-up on what seems like the most obvious decision imaginable?
The only hesitation is this: Jontay Porter has played great on the Nike AAU circuit this spring and summer, and he’s vaulted all the way up to No. 18 overall in 247Sports’ composite ranking for the Class of 2018. He’s not just Michael Porter’s little brother anymore.
Jontay averaged 18.1 points, 12.6 rebounds, 2.6 blocks and shot 43.2 percent from 3-point range — at 6-foot-10, 235 pounds — to earn All-EYBL first-team honors. That means invitations to a few prestigious all-star events, the kind his older brother enjoyed recently, could be on the way. But not if he bolts early for college.
“This summer’s been great. It’s created a lot of opportunities, opened a lot of doors for me,” Jontay said. “The (reclassification) decision is most likely made in my eyes, but I still have to take into consideration all the high school aspects of it. The McDonald’s All-American Game, Jordan Brand Classic, if I was good enough to make those games, that’s something big that I would take into consideration when making that reclass decision.
“My stock has obviously jumped a lot this summer, so it’s changed a lot in my mindset.”
On the flip side, there’s something special brewing at Missouri, sparked by his brother committing to Martin, and the window to fully capitalize on that could be small. Michael Porter is almost certainly only playing one season of college basketball.
“This will be kind of an all-in year,” Jontay Porter said. “Michael will probably be gone after this year. Mizzou, hopefully this kind of jump-starts the program back into prominence — I think they will be good for years to come — but it is rare to get a No. 1 player with all these other good freshmen to come into Mizzou. So this is the year to try to make the Final four jump, to try to be the best team in the country.”
The Tigers have the No. 8 incoming freshman class, according to 247Sports, without Jontay Porter. Already on board: No. 1 Michael Porter (6-10 SF), No. 40 Jeremiah Tilmon (6-10 PF), No. 144 Blake Harris (6-3 PG) and No. 152 C.J. Roberts (6-2 PG).
“I think staying in high school would be more of a selfish decision — well, not necessarily selfish, but thinking of me, what I want to do with my accomplishments,” Jontay said. “They’re loading up this year and I’d love to be a part of that. I would get to be on one of the best teams in the country for that year, and get to play with my brother.”
The good news, Missouri fans: He says that official decision is coming after Peach Jam. The bad news: Porter wouldn’t narrow it down any further than “sometime in the next few weeks.” The only news that matters: It’s going to be worth your wait.