Men’s basketball recruiting notebook: Porter Jr. and Co. take over Mizzou for a weekend
Michael Porter Jr.’s visit to Mizzou with No. 7 recruit Kevin Knox and No. 99 recruit Blake Harris captivated Columbia this past weekend.
Apr. 11, 2017
If you stayed away from Greektown, downtown Columbia, campus, anywhere between Providence Road and College Avenue and off of social media last weekend, you may have missed Michael Porter Jr., Kevin Knox and Blake Harris taking over Mizzou. Even if you did take all of those precautionary steps, you probably still heard about it.
Past alumni, please correct me if I’m wrong on this, but this past weekend may have been the most exciting off-field sports weekend in Mizzou history.
Mizzou’s basketball-starved student body greeted Porter Jr. and company with overflowing excitement, banners hanging from fraternity houses, slightly endearing desperation and an endless stream of M-I-Z chants.
In return, the trio of top-100 basketball recruits took what had to be at least a quarter-million photos with students and worked their way through campus and downtown Columbia several steps and a selfie at a time.
For Knox and Harris, the trip to Columbia marked a final official campus visit for each.
Knox, the No. 7-ranked recruit in the class of 2017, made Mizzou his fifth and final official visit after Porter Jr. committed to play for the Tigers last month. After having already visited Duke, Kentucky, Florida State and North Carolina, Mizzou became the final college campus Knox will step foot on before he makes his decision about where he’ll play next year.
Harris’ trip to Mizzou was his first and ultimately his last official visit. One weekend spent in Columbia was evidently enough time for him to make up his mind, if it hadn’t been made up before, as Harris committed to Mizzou via Twitter on Sunday.
After the weekend that was, here are some notes on Mizzou basketball recruiting:
Michael Porter Jr.
Michael Porter Jr. stepped off the plane and immediately asserted himself as a star on campus in his first time back in Columbia since committing to Mizzou. It’s not something that should come as a surprise to anyone, but it took next to no time for the nation’s No. 1 basketball recruit to consume the university.
His brief time on campus immediately showed three things:
1) Three years of woeful basketball will do things to a fan base. Mizzou fans are desperate to cling onto anything that could spell good things to come for Missouri basketball. Just wait until games start in November.
2) There’s a very real difference between an incredible basketball player and a star. Being a star is more than just performing in the gym. Some guys dominate on the court, but off of it, shy away from the attention and attempt to blend in. Others remain stars when they leave the gym and exude that stardom at all times. Michael Porter Jr. is one of those guys. Granted, it’s pretty difficult to blend in at 6 feet 10 inches, but Porter Jr. was the furthest thing from shy during his time on campus.
He embraced his star status right away with a smile and a presence that could be felt after spending just a minute or two around him. It’s a bravado that certainly benefits him on the court, and it’s evidently not something he leaves in the locker room. He seemed to love this weekend just as much as the Missouri faithful did.
3) If this weekend is any indication of what’s to come next fall, Porter Jr. better get used smiling and taking photos. The buzz and excitement will be present the moment he steps on campus. The enamored stares and over-excited faces aren’t going anywhere.
In committing on Sunday, Harris joined Porter Jr. and three-star guard C.J. Roberts in Mizzou’s 2017 recruiting class.
After committing to play with Porter Jr. at Washington next season, Harris also decommitted after the firing of Huskies coach Lorenzo Romar. Harris had plans to make official visits to Michigan State, UConn, North Carolina State and Rutgers over the next few weeks but cut those plans off with his commitment to Mizzou.
Harris, who played at Word of God Christian Academy in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, is ESPN’s No. 99-ranked player in the class of 2017.
Harris now joins Porter Jr. in a quest to coax Kevin Knox into joining the Tigers as well, after Knox left Columbia without a decision.
"I'm going to go hard on [Knox],” Harris told PowerMizzou.com. "I hope he does what's best for him, but he would be a great addition to what we have.”
Knox appeared to enjoy his visit to Columbia, but Mizzou’s recruitment may be too little too late.
The near gravitational pulls of Duke, Kentucky and North Carolina this deep into his recruitment may just be too strong for the Tigers to sway Knox to come to Mizzou. At this point, the Tigers are viewed as a long shot to sign Knox, but with Porter Jr. in his ear, all bets may be off.
There’s been varied speculation about when Knox will make his announcement. Knox told USA Today that he would make his decision during the week following the April 17 Jordan Brand Classic. Other reports have said he will wait right up until the end of the month.
Just days after retweeting his own tweet from July, seemingly reaffirming his commitment to play at Illinois next year, four-star center Jeremiah Tilmon asked to be released by Illinois from his letter of intent last week. Tilmon is ESPN’s No. 41-ranked player in the class of 2017.
According to an instagram post from TIlmon on Tuesday, his release was granted, officially reopening his recruitment.
In a previous Instagram post, Tilmon stated that Illinois’ decision to fire former head coach John Groce played a role in his request to be released from his LOI.
Tilmon, an East St. Louis, Illinois native, considered Missouri up until he made his initial decision to head to Illinois, and many speculate that Missouri is where he will be headed now. Mizzou’s new head coach Cuonzo Martin, also an East St. Louis native, is well connected in his old stomping grounds.
With the transfers of guards K.J. Walton and Frankie Hughes, Mizzou heads into the final stretch of recruiting with two scholarships left open.
If Mizzou does not sign another player to this year's recruiting class, it will still be a historic one. Grabbing the first No. 1 recruit in program history along with another top-100 player is a huge step to putting Mizzou basketball back on the map.
Regardless of who else does or doesn’t come, Mizzou will make a jump next season. But the outcome of the next few weeks is what will dictate just how big that jump may be.
If things go right, it could be huge.
Edited by Katherine Stevenson | firstname.lastname@example.org