Missouri fans’ wait for Michael Porter Jr.’s return to the court will not end on Saturday, according to a report by ESPN’s Jeff Goodman:
Missouri freshman Michael Porter Jr., will not play today, source told ESPN.
— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) March 3, 2018
After being medically cleared last week, Porter has yet to see the floor for the Tigers, who are fighting for a spot in the NCAA Tournament. Saturday was long seen as a logical return date, as it would give Porter over a week to practice with the team and re-acclimate himself to full-contact basketball.
Instead, the mystery of whether Porter will ever play for Missouri again will have to continue until, at least, the team’s first game in the SEC Tournament on Thursday. The Tigers play Arkansas at home on Saturday evening, and a win versus the Razorbacks would position Missouri to be the fifth seed in the tournament, which is being held in St. Louis this year.
The ‘will he or won’t he’ saga of Porter’s return has hit a fever pitch over the past few weeks. First, Porter’s critical doctor’s appointment was made public. Then he was officially cleared to resume basketball activities. And now, since that clearance came last week, every Mizzou game has been preceded by a question of whether this, finally, would be the game Porter would return.
Following Goodman’s breaking of the story, Porter himself released a statement addressing the situation, as relayed by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Dave Matter:
Statement from Michael Porter Jr. pic.twitter.com/DiPUVIIqgM
— Dave Matter (@Dave_Matter) March 3, 2018
Fortunately for Mizzou fans, Porter is still leaving the door open for a return to the team in the SEC Tournament, where his ballhandling and scoring ability could provide a huge punch for a team lacking in both of those areas, even if it were just for 10-15 minutes per game.
Instead of Porter’s return, the focus of the Arkansas shifts to Missouri’s senior day honoring stars Kassius Robertson and Jordan Barnett, as well as walk-on Brett Rau. Though the Tigers would likely still make the tournament with a loss both on Saturday and in the first game of the SEC Tournament, a win against the Razorbacks would essentially make the team a lock to get in.