The Maneater

Cierra Porter medically retires; leaves gaping hole in frontcourt for Missouri women’s hoops

The three-year starter was forced to medically retire by a lingering knee injury, leaving a gaping hole in the frontcourt for Missouri women’s hoops.

Missouri forward Cierra Porter, 4, extends to steal the loose ball in a game against Auburn last season.

One day after Missouri men’s basketball regained Jontay Porter for another year, the women’s team lost an asset out of the same family. Rising senior Cierra Porter medically retired due to lingering knee issues, meaning she won’t play her senior season, the team confirmed in a press release Friday, June 1.

Porter, a three-year starter, was the team leader in blocks and one of the team’s top interior defenders. She was expected to start this season for the Tigers and help mitigate the loss of recent graduate Jordan Frericks, who led the team in steals.

Porter averaged 10.6 points and 7 rebounds per game over the last three seasons for Robin Pingeton’s Tigers. Pingeton is Porter’s aunt.

Porter was named to the SEC all-freshman team in 2015-16. She had a second-team All-SEC campaign her sophomore year, but the lingering knee injury began to limit her efficiency and availability last season. Those 7 rebounds per game make her seventh all time in rebound average at Missouri.

Filling the frontcourt will become an immensely greater challenge for the Tigers now. Among the candidates are redshirt sophomore Hannah Schuchts, who will likely take on an extended post role in 2018-19. Schuchts specializes in shot blocking and spacing the floor on offense. She was fourth on the team with 17 blocks despite only averaging 7.8 minutes of play per game last year.

Schuchts can also stretch the floor and play a similar role to Porter with her mid-range and outside shooting ability. She was fifth on the team in 3s last season with 15 and fourth on the team in 3-point percentage, shooting 37.5 percent from behind the arc.

Missouri has two options for the other forward position. They could put in incoming freshman Brittany Garner or use a more traditional wing player.

Garner, an incoming freshman from Philadelphia, scored over 1,000 points in under three seasons at Winslow Township High School in Winslow, New Jersey. She was a highly touted recruit, ranked 68th in the 2018 class by Prospects Nation, and at 6-foot-2, is a more traditional post player who could pair well with Schuchts on the offensive end.

Schutchs specializes in shooting from outside but struggles from inside the paint and rarely posts up, meaning she is better suited for a role as a stretch four on offense while Garner could patrol the paint and play inside at the center position.

To make the Tigers more versatile on defense, they could add a fourth wing player to pair with Schutchs or Garner and add depth. Missouri will tack on wings Grace Berg and Haley Troup next season,

Berg, an incoming freshman from Indianola High School in Iowa, is ranked the 36th best player in the class of 2018 by ESPN.com. She is a knockdown shooter with a skill set similar to rising junior Amber Smith.

Troup transferred from South Carolina in the summer and will join the team after redshirting her freshman season. She is a 5-foot-10 player who tallied over 2,000 points and 1,000 rebounds at Gadsden City High School in Alabama.

Adding Troup or Berg as fourth wing players would give Missouri more quickness for defense on the perimeter. While the inside-out combination would fit together well on offense, neither Schuchts nor Garner are quick enough to guard on the perimeter and could be taken advantage of against smaller power forwards on drives to the basket or off switches in a pick-and-roll.

With more long wing players, the Tigers would be able to pressure the ball and create more turnovers and deflections.

Smith has also shown herself to be capable of playing as a smaller power forward. She filled in for part of the 2016-17 season as a power forward once Frericks missed the season with a knee injury. Smith is also a good rebounder. She was third on the team with 5.3 rebounds per game playing from the wing.

Edited by Bennett Durando | bdurando@themaneater.com

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