Michael Porter, Jr., one of the top prospects for the NBA Draft next year, has played two total minutes so far this year for Missouri. He signaled to Cuonzo Martin shortly after the start of last Friday’s debut against Iowa State, who got a substitute up. He came out of the game shortly after and never returned.
Questions about why he left lingered until about halftime, when the “official” word was a hip injury.
That was concerning. With a game against Wagner on Monday night, it would not have been surprising that he sat out that game, with Missouri heavily favored (they won by 44). What was notable, though, is that Porter, Jr. was not even anywhere to be seen on the bench, which spawned lots of rumor and speculation.
Again, news eventually came out that he was watching from the locker room because it was better for his injury.
In that report, it was called a “leg” injury. After the game, Martin also said not the hip and just described it as a left leg injury.
“I don’t know how serious (the injury is),” Martin said. “It’s hard for me to say that, but I think it’s day to day. That’s the best assessment for me to say right now. It’s day to day.”
“I understand you want that information,” Martin said. “We just played a team. … The truth of the matter is I’m not a doctor. I can’t give you more than that. I don’t want to give you more. It’s not my job to give. So out of respect for Mike, his family, I think the best thing is it’s day to day. If I had more, I’d give you more.”
That “out of respect for Mike, his family” line about it being day-to-day is curious. Which brings us to today. Missouri has the first tough road test tonight, traveling to Salt Lake City to face the Utah Utes. Michael Porter, Jr. will, for the second straight game, not be on the bench and did not make the trip.
So now, the questions will get even louder, and the concerns that this is far more serious that Cuonzo Martin is letting on will grow. Missouri is off to a great start with Porter, Jr. not even playing. His younger brother, Jontay, looked really good, fellow freshman Jeremiah Tilmon is a very good post player, Kassius Robertson is a deadly shooter (7 of 14 from 3-point range so far), and holdovers Kevin Puryear and Jordan Barnett are playing really well. But everyone wants to see Michael Porter, Jr. join the show.
Missouri plays non-Division I Emporia State on Monday, and he almost certainly won’t play in that game. But if he’s not back and traveling with the team to play in the Advocare Invitational tournament in Orlando over Thanksgiving, the alarm bells will grow louder.