BROOKLYN — There are no college basketball coaches at the practices for the Jordan Brand Classic, so Michael Porter Jr. is stepping up as the top salesman, only just for Missouri.
Porter, the American Family Insurance ALL-USA Player of the Year, recently landed with Missouri after getting out of his National Letter of Intent with Washington when his father, Michael Sr., an assistant with the Huskies, was fired along with the rest of then-Washington coach Lorenzo Romar’s staff.
Porter committed with Missouri at the end of March, shortly before his father took a job on the Tigers’ staff. He formally signed a financial-aid agreement with the school on Wednesday.
Now he’s working hard on getting Missouri a few more players, particularly East St. Louis center Jeremiah Tilmon (who was recently released from his LOI to Illinois) and Tampa (Fla.) Catholic wing Kevin Knox II.
RELATED: Knox enjoyed visit to Missouri
Porter may have already had a hand in landing guard Blake Harris, who committed to the Tigers last week.
“Blake is a good point guard and he likes to pass and if we get Kevin, we’ll be dangerous, with us two on the wing and Blake distributing,” Porter said. “And I talked to (Jeremiah) as soon as he released from Illinois and he’s really interested because we’ve been friends for a while.”
Porter said Missouri’s coaches are expecting recruiting updates from him while he’s in New York.
“Of course,” Porter said, laughing. “They’re texting me, ‘Did you hit him up?’ ‘Did you call him?’ I’m just doing what I can to help.”
Of the two, it sounded as if he felt he had a better chance to land Tilmon.
“Kevin liked his visit, but he can go anywhere in the country,” Porter said. “I think it would be a leap of faith from him to come to Mizzou, but I think if he came, us two on the wing would be hard to guard.”
Knox said he’s getting lots of attention from his final five of Duke, Kentucky, North Carolina, Florida State and Missouri. It’s worth noting he pushed back his decision to late April or early May after he recently visited Missouri.
“I’m talking with everybody lately because they know a decision is coming soon and they all want to stay in touch,” Knox said. “It’s a lot of phone calls and texts. From the end of April to May 10, you can see a decision. I’m pretty sure I have some in-home visits pretty soon. I’m one of the last people committed. I just want to take my time and make one of the biggest decisions in my life.”
Porter, before he transferred to Nathan Hale (Seattle) for this season, grew up in Columbia, Mo. He fondly remembers that he got his first offer from the Tigers, when he was in the sixth grade. Porter said his pitch to Knox is he will be able to make a big impact at Missouri.
“We talk everyday,” Porter said. “I just feel like we’re both very unselfish players and with us two on the wing and with Blake and Terrence Phillips at the point, they like to distribute. If (Knox) goes to Missouri, we’ll be legends. If he goes to Kentucky, he’ll just be another player.”
As for Porter’s potential impact, after he signed a financial aid agreement Wednesday, Missouri coach Cuonzo Martin issued a statement, praising the family and Porter’s return to Missouri. He previously played for Father Tolton in Columbia while his father was an assistant for the Missouri women’s basketball team.
“It goes without saying, but Michael is a special player and a special person,” Martin said. “Michael comes to the Mizzou Family from a great family of his own, and our basketball program is thrilled to have a student-athlete with his character, drive and passion. Lisa and Michael Porter, Sr., raised Michael well. He is continually motivated to give and is always striving to be a great teammate.
“Most of all, welcome home to Michael. Mizzou is a special place and Columbia is a community that already knows him well. I’m looking forward to Michael representing Mizzou well, on and off the court and in the classroom, and I’m sure he looks forward to it, as well.”