Prep phenom Porter Jr. eager to team up with dad at Missouri
Michael Porter Jr. is aware of the skepticism surrounding the heralded forward’s decision to play at Missouri, a struggling program that recently hired his father as an assistant coach.
Porter, ranked the No. 1 prospect in his class by multiple recruiting services, had 17 points and eight rebounds Wednesday night to lead the West team to a 109-107 victory over the East in the McDonald’s All-American Game in Chicago. Jerry Meyer, the director of basketball scouting for 247Sports, says Porter is “one of the more talented prospects that I’ve scouted in my 15 years in the business.”
Porter said the talk about his college decision is blown out of proportion.
“People act like I got forced into this decision because my dad is going to coach there,” Porter said Tuesday. “But, nah, I want to play for my dad. I trust him.”
Porter initially planned to attend Washington, a selection he made after his father had joined Huskies coach Lorenzo Romar’s staff. After Romar was fired two weeks ago, Porter reopened his recruitment .
This isn’t uncommon in recruiting wars.
NCAA rules permit schools to hire the family members of prospects for coaching positions. Schools are prohibited from hiring relatives of recruits for non-coaching staff positions for the two years before that prospect’s enrollment and after his arrival.
Danny Manning and Mario Chalmers played on national championship teams at Kansas and had fathers on the coaching staff during their college careers. Ronnie Chalmers was hired after his son already had signed with the Jayhawks.
Oregon State hired Stephen Thompson as an assistant coach in 2014 and has since signed two of the former Syracuse star’s sons: Stephen Thompson Jr. and Ethan Thompson.
K.J. Lawson and Dedric Lawson signed with Memphis after former Tigers coach Josh Pastner hired their father, Keelon Lawson, as an assistant. K.J. verbally committed to Memphis before his dad joined its staff.
“A lot of these guys have coaching backgrounds and credentials to back up the hires,” said Eric Bossi, a national basketball analyst for Rivals. “I think if it’s legal to do it, why wouldn’t you do it? You have to weigh the benefits of it — how much can a coach help you elsewhere besides locking up his own gene pool. But I think it’s proven to work out pretty well for the places that have done it, and a lot of the guys have gone on to stay in coaching.”
The elder Porter’s coaching background includes six years on the Missouri women’s basketball staff — three as director of basketball operations and three more as an assistant coach.
“Most players that have played for my dad realized that he is a caring guy,” Porter Jr. said. “He cares about you on and off the court so they usually come back with positive outlook on his coaching.”
Some other things to know about players in the McDonald’s All-American Games.
CHOOSING DIFFERENT PATHS: Other McDonald’s players with family connections are taking different routes. Chuck O’Bannon Jr. is the son of former UCLA player Charles O’Bannon and the nephew of Ed O’Bannon, the star of UCLA’s 1995 national championship team. But he’s going to Southern California instead of UCLA. Jaren Jackson Jr. is the son of Georgetown and NBA player Jaren Jackson, but he’s committed to Michigan State. Duke-bound guard Gary Trent Jr. is the son of former Ohio star Gary Trent.
FAMILIAR NAME, UNFAMILIAR SPORT: Forward Kevin Knox II is the son of former Florida State wide receiver Kevin Knox but has emerged as a prospect in basketball rather than football. Bossi said Knox is considering Kentucky, Duke, North Carolina and Florida State.
KENTUCKY RELOADING: Kentucky has commitments from four players on the East team: guard Quade Green, center Nicholas Richards and forwards Jarred Vanderbilt and P.J. Washington Jr. Bossi noted Kentucky also remains in play for Knox and center Mohamed Bamba.
MID-MAJOR COUP: While many of the McDonald’s All-Americans are going to the usual programs such as Kentucky, Duke and UCLA, one has chosen a school from outside the major conferences. Mitchell Robinson, a 6-foot-11 center from Chalmette, Louisiana, plans to play for Western Kentucky.
FUTURE LADY VOLS: On the girls’ side, Tennessee has signed four McDonald’s All-Americans in forward Rennia Davis, center Kasi Kushkituah and guards Anastasia Hayes and Evina Westbrook. No other women’s program has signed that many of this year’s McDonald’s selections.
AP freelance writer Patrick Rose in Chicago contributed to this report.
This story has been corrected to show that Mitchell Robinson is heading to Western Kentucky.