The slow-developing saga of Michael Porter Jr’s comeback has stalled once again.
Missouri announced its star freshman will miss the Tigers’ final home game this season against Arkansas as he continues to return to form after needing back surgery in November.
Porter says his goal now is to return for the start of Mizzou’s run in the SEC Tournament next week and to be at full strength for the NCAA tournament — which Missouri seems to have locked up spot in at this point.
Michael Porter Jr. not playing tonight. pic.twitter.com/weaYREaMbU
— Jeff Borzello (@jeffborzello) March 3, 2018
The cautious route with Porter is clearly in his best interest as the small forward is still considered an NBA lottery pick despite hardly playing this season. For Tigers fans, however, the latest news means that one of the best recruits to come through the program in years will have only played two minutes total in front of the crowd in Columbia after suffering an injury in the season opener. (Porter did play 21 minutes and scored 23 points in a pre-season exhibition loss to Kansas in Kansas City.)
At 19-11 on the year, Missouri has certainly exceeded expectations with Porter sidelined, which only adds to the hype surrounding his return. Even in a limited role, the freshman provides a huge boost to the Tigers NCAA tournament hopes as Mizzou looks to make it out of the opening weekend for the first time since 2009.
Taking it slow might be hard to stomach with so few games left in the season, but if the Tigers are going to make a run, they need to buy as much time for Porter to get in shape as possible. With NBA officials paying close attention to Porter’s progress, there’s no room for a mistake here and no downside to the freshman continuing to sit out.
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