CHICAGO – Having gone through the grueling recruitment process already, Michael Porter Jr. didn’t envy any of the six players who have yet to decide on where they’ll play in college.
Porter was granted a release from Washington on March 22 after head coach Lorenzo Romar was fired.
Two days later he committed to Missouri.
“It’s definitely been a fun and stress-free week,” Porter said. “I didn’t have anything to worry about; just relax and play ball.”
He parlayed that easygoing attitude into a 17-point performance, leading the West past the East 109-107 and claiming the MVP hardware at the McDonald’s All American Game Wednesday night at the United Center.
Jaylen Hands, a UCLA signee, added 14 points for the West. Mohamed Bamba pumped in 17 points and five rebounds and Kevin Knox posted 15 points for the East.
“This game was competitive,” Porter said. “A lot of all-star games guys just run up and down the court, but we were competing. To be MVP of this game means the world to me. It’s an amazing feeling.”
IN HIS WORDS: Michael Porter Jr. on why he chose Missouri
The East kept a narrow lead the entire first half due in large part to Collin Sexton’s ability to get by the West’s guards, penetrate into the lane and find the open man.
Sexton, an Alabama signee, controlled the tempo and racked up six assists, mostly on mind-boggling alley-oops on fast breaks.
Porter kept the West in the game, leading all scorers with 12 points in the first half.
The East shot 62.5 percent from the field in the first half and led 56-50 at halftime.
The second half was a role reversal.
The West capitalized off of the East’s miscues, turning them into transition scores on the other end.
The West led by as many as seven in the second half, but the East went on a 7-0 run and tied it at 83 with 9:45 left in regulation on Quade Green’s three-pointer from the right wing.
The West countered with a 23-14 run, capped off by Trae Young’s NBA three-pointer from the top of the key, to build a nine-point cushion late.
The East cut it to two, 109-107, with 1:02 left in the game on Mohamed Bamba’s dunk and in the waning seconds they had three attempts that they were either missed or blocked.
“We had a chip on our shoulders after losing the scrimmage game yesterday,” said Troy Brown Jr., an Oregon signee who scored 12 points for the West. “They were doing a lot of talking so we wanted to come out and get it done.”
Follow Jason Jordan on Twitter: @JayJayUSATODAY