Mizzou basketball on the rise with additions of Cuonzo Martin and Michael Porter
APRIL 2017 -Tiger’s newly-hired coach Cuonzo Martin and Michael Porter, Jr. the #1 high school player in the country have turned around the basketball program at MU.
After three downtrodden last-place SEC finishes, Missouri could have a top 25 team next year.
How could the Tigers go from the outhouse to the penthouse so quickly?
Hire a new coach, who hires an assistant, who happens to be the father of the No. 1 recruit in the country for the 2017 class. Son decides to follow dad to Missouri. Presto, a bad team can become good overnight. (Actually, this is a page right out of the Kansas playbook, hire Danny Manning’s dad to be an assistant to Larry Brown and hello national championship.)
And Missouri gives a hearty thank you to the University of Washington to make this all possible, but that is getting ahead of the story.
It all started when Kim Anderson was fired on March 5. In three seasons, his overall record was 27-68 with a dismal 28.4 win percentage and an awful conference record of 8-46.
Ten days later, after his Cal Golden Bears lost in the first round of the NIT, Mizzou hired Cuonzo Martin to replace Anderson.
He’s not the biggest name, but Martin has won. In nine seasons as a Division I head coach, Martin has made two NCAA Tournament appearances, including a run to the Sweet 16 in 2014 with Tennessee. Martin only has one losing season, his first year at Missouri State, and has a career win percentage of 60.6, averaging 20.7 wins per season.
The addition of Martin was just the start of the exciting newcomers. On March 23, former Missouri women’s assistant coach Michael Porter Sr. joined Martin’s coaching staff. Porter Sr. decided to return to Columbia after Washington fired coach Lorenzo Romar, where he spent last season as an assistant coach.
What made the hiring of Porter Sr. so exciting for Mizzou was the idea that he might bring his son, Michael Porter Jr. with him. Porter Jr. had already signed a letter of intent last summer to play for Washington next season. He led his Seattle high school to an undefeated season and a state championship.
But with the Romar firing, Michael Porter decommited.
On March 24, the day after his dad joined the Tigers, Porter Jr. announced he would sign with Mizzou, the first time the Tigers have signed a top overall recruit. This elevated the level of hype for the Tigers next season with the kind of talent and potential Porter Jr. brings to Missouri.
This past season, Michael Porter Jr. averaged 36.2 points, 13.6 rebounds, 5 assists, 3.2 steals and 2.7 blocks. He was named the Gatorade Player of the Year, Naismith Prep Player of the Year, and a McDonald’s All-American. He was the MVP of the McDonald’s All-America game in Chicago, scoring 17 points and grabbing eight rebounds.
If Tiger fans weren’t already giddy over the signing of Michael Porter Jr., things might not stop there. His younger brother, Jontay, is ranked 26 in ESPN’s class of 2018 and also decommitted from Washington. Jontay has the option to either play his senior year of high school and could sign with Missouri next year or reclassify for the class of 2017 and possibly play with his brother for the Tigers next season.
To add even more exciting possibilities, Michael Porter Jr. is recruiting other blue-chip recruits to join him at Mizzou.
One player he has reached out to is five-star recruit Kevin Knox. As we see with some NBA teams, Porter Jr. joining the Tigers might bring some extra pull for some other top recruits to also sign with Missouri.
But what does this all mean? For Tigers fans and people around the program, they hope it means a big turnaround for the team and competing for conference championships and NCAA Tournament runs. Based just on the new arrivals the program has gained, the 2017-18 season is shaping up to be the Tigers’ best since Frank Haith was head coach and sets up good recruiting possibilities in the future.
The key is capitalizing on this offseason success and carrying this momentum through the 2017-18 season. The Tigers have a good example to learn from about losing momentum after a big signing in their very own conference.
In 2015 the LSU Tigers signed Ben Simmons, the top-rated recruit in the country, but finished the 2015-16 season with a 19-14 record and missed the NCAA Tournament. Simmons then left for the NBA, where he was first player picked in the 2016 draft. LSU finished last season 10-21 and tied for the worst conference record in the SEC with Mizzou at 2-14.
Martin and the Tigers’ basketball program have garnered a lot of well-earned hype for the team this next season. All signs point towards the program headed in the right direction with their new additions, but they need to live up to the hype. With Michael Porter Jr. likely being a one-and-done player, Missouri needs to sustain and capitalize on their success once he leaves or else it could be back to mediocre seasons and having disappointed, apathetic Tiger fans.
For more MU coverage visit http://kcsportspaper.com/category/college-teams/mizzou/
Article by Drew Parks