The Maneater

Michael Porter Jr. says he may be back before season’s end

Porter Jr. said he’ll have a doctor’s appointment in the next two weeks that could clear him to practice fully with the team.

Michael Porter Jr. motions for a basketball prior to Missouri's exhibition scrimmage with Kansas on Oct. 22, 2017.

Missouri basketball just keeps on surprising.

The team sent Michael Porter Jr. to the podium to speak to reporters Friday afternoon. The mysterious freshman phenom who’s been sidelined with a back injury since the first two minutes of the season said he will meet with a doctor in the next week or two to determine whether he will be cleared for full contact practice.

“I’d love to get a couple games under my belt before hopping into tournament play,” Porter said. “I’m feeling better every day. I’m just hoping that the doctor feels the same way.”

Speculation on whether Porter Jr. will return and play any more minutes for Mizzou has dominated the conversation surrounding the team even on a national level this season.

“I don’t really like the speculation, to be honest, because all I want to hear about is Mizzou basketball and how well we’re doing right now,” he said.

Porter may have fueled that speculation with some of his comments on Friday, though. He said he is optimistic that he will return before the end of the season, and that if it were up to him, he’d already be playing.

“I feel better right now than I’ve ever felt,” he said.

When the time for a decision comes, though, Porter acknowledged that it won’t be up to him. He added that while he awaits a ruling from a doctor, his rehab therapist ruled him ready to go with everything in practice except the contact aspect of the sport.

“If and when I am cleared to go, I can just hop right back in and it wouldn’t take me many practices to be good to go,” he said.

Porter further acknowledged that he is an optimist on that topic and in general but that he’s most concerned about the well-being of the team he said he has loved watching all season.

“I’m just a kid who loves to play basketball,” he said. “I’m not thinking about the risks. What I am worried about is … Is it good for our team if I come back?”

On whether the injury impacts his impending decision to either stay at Missouri or declare for the NBA Draft next year, Porter said things haven’t changed much, though the thought still lingers.

“It’s still up in the air,” he said.

While Porter Jr. waits for a ruling on his fate for the rest of this season, he’ll continue to cheerlead for Mizzou from the bench. The Tigers have a home matchup against Mississippi State on Saturday and visit Texas A&M on Tuesday. After that, it looks like the next big thing on the calendar will be the doctor’s verdict.

“I think the doctor is gonna be amazed at my progress,” Porter said. “To me, and how I feel right now, there is a good chance [I come back].”

Edited by Joe Noser | jnoser@themaneater.com

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