It’s been a rough week for Virginia basketball fans, especially anyone who was counting on Marial Shayok or Jarred Reuter next year. But the upside to the two announced departures has been the re-opening of some scholarships that Tony Bennett and his staff can put to use.
One of the best-case scenarios that’s been tossed around would be the Hoos landing Michael Porter, Jr. And now that’s one step closer to being a realistic possibility.
The No. 1 prospect is back on the market. Michael Porter Jr. has officially been released from his letter-of-intent to Washington.— Jeff Borzello (@jeffborzello) March 23, 2017
Here are three things to know about Michael.
He’s good. Like, REALLY good.
ESPN has him as their #1 player nationally in 2017. So does 247. So does Rivals. Scout, for some reason, has him at #5. And he was named the Gatorade National Player of the Year earlier this week. Oh, and the high school Naismith, too.
Here’s video proof.
That is a 6’10, 220-pound young man, running the court like a point guard. When a guy is the unquestioned standout among a group of players handpicked by USA Basketball—he’s pretty good.
He’s tight with the Guy Bun.
The first reports that Virginia might be in it for Porter started on Wednesday, with a USA Today article reporting that he would be seeking a release from his letter of intent.
On Virginia: “I know they’re not super offensive-minded but my best friend Kyle Guy goes there and back when they were recruiting me they always talked about needing a scorer. If I go there I can step into that role.”
Those kinds of relationships can be important, especially when the recruiting process gets upended late and an 18-year-old kid is all of a sudden flooded with noise again.
The odds are still pretty long.
Read that quote again. “They’re not super offensive-minded” is the first thing out of his mouth. If we know anything about Coach Bennett, it’s this: If you aren’t 100% committed to playing defense, you aren’t playing—period. (That said, if the coaches can sell the argument that establishing his defensive game will shore up his NBA prospects...)
There’s also the Dad Factor. Porter, Jr., signed his letter of intent with Washington in July 2016, after the Huskies hired his dad as an assistant coach. But Porter, Sr., was among the coaches let go when UW fired Lorenzo Romar. Reports are that Missouri’s Cuonzo Martin will add Porter, Sr., to his staff, in an attempt to land Porter, Jr. (and the younger brother, Jontay, another top prospect who could reclassify to 2017 from the class of 2018).
The door is open, should Porter, Jr., decide to follow his friend Kyle. While we’d advise against anyone getting their hearts set on MPJ at the JPJ, it’s worth keeping an eye on. The signing period for basketball re-opens on April 12, with a deadline of May 17.