Column: It's time for Mizzou to move on from Michael Porter Jr.

From Michael Porter Sr.’s perspective, this was a no-brainer. That's why, when he turned down the same position last year, many were surprised.
Courtesy of University of Washington Basketball

In a way, Michael Porter Jr. made it easy on Missouri fans. The dream of ESPN’s third-ranked player in the class of 2017 playing for the hometown Tigers is now just that — a dream.

Why? Because on Friday, it was reported that his dad, Michael Porter Sr., had accepted an assistant coaching job on the men’s staff at Washington under coach Lorenzo Romar, and that Michael Jr. and his brother, Jontay, would be moving with their dad to Seattle.

So, instead of waiting, watching and agonizing over the fact that the homegrown superstar may choose a school like — dare I say it — Kansas, over Mizzou, you’re free to turn your attention elsewhere, because the Tigers are all but out of the picture.

This wasn’t supposed to be the case. Over the past few years, the 6-foot-9 high school junior Porter Jr., who has been compared to numerous NBA players, took the floor in Mizzou’s practice gym in Columbia because his dad, Porter Sr., was an assistant for Missouri’s women’s basketball team.

Knowing that, Mizzou fans have hoped for years that Porter Jr. would come to their school, sport the black and gold and resurrect the Missouri men’s basketball program. But now, by default, those hopes are all but gone.

“I've known Lorenzo for a very long time," Porter Sr. told Dawgman.com Friday in talking about the move. "I respect everything about him and I'm excited about the opportunity not just to work with him, but also to learn from him. He does a good job of recruiting and endearing himself to players so that's something I want to learn from.”

Over the years, a trend has begun to consume the landscape of college basketball — the hiring of dads with star-studded children. An example is Memphis assistant Keelon Lawson, whose sons K.J. and Dedric were top recruits in the country. So, in order to ensure they’d come to Memphis, former Memphis coach Josh Pastner elected to hire their father.

In a sense, this is a different scenario due to Porter Sr.’s prior relationship with Romar. Not only has the Washington coach been a great friend of Porter Sr.’s over the years, but he’s also the boys’ godfather — something that sparked Jontay’s commitment to the Huskies back on Aug. 2.

From Porter Sr.’s perspective, this move was a no-brainer. That’s why when Porter Sr. turned down this position last year — yes, he was offered this same gig a year ago — many were surprised.

But just imagine: You’re an assistant for the Missouri’s women’s basketball team, and you get a call from Romar — who also happens to be one of your best friends — offering you a lucrative deal to be an assistant for his high-major men’s basketball program in Seattle. Simply put, it was a dream scenario.

What made him take the offer this year but not last? Both his sons are a year older and a year better, but more importantly, his daughter Cierra is settled into college at Missouri and had great success in year one on the women’s basketball team.

“It was extremely difficult to say no (a year ago), but in hindsight it was the right decision," Porter Sr. said to Dawgman. "I had two daughters who played for Missouri, and one of them was starting her freshman year, so it was better for our girls to remain in Columbia for another year."

On Friday, both Cierra and sister Bri confirmed their commitment to coach Robin Pingeton, who is their aunt, and the Missouri women’s program. So, as the family of eight heads west, two will remain in the place that groomed them.

"It won't be easy to move (the family)," Porter Sr. said to Dawgman.com. "It's hard just taking six kids to a restaurant let alone a new city. It won't be easy — my wife will have to start over — getting our bearings, learning where to shop, learning how to drive the city, stuff like that, but if that's as hard as our lives get, then we're doing pretty good."

The Porter’s lives might become easier, but coach Kim Anderson’s won’t, and neither will anyone else’s involved with Missouri basketball.

Even then, for both parties comes new opportunity — a chance to grow and a chance to move on. And for Missouri fans, that’s been a long time coming.

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