Michael Porter Jr. still a likely candidate for one-and-done season at Mizzou

Missouri Tigers player Michael Porter Jr. answers questions from members of the media during SEC Media Dayl on Oct. 18, 2017, at the Omni Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Michael Porter Jr.’s claim that he’d forgo entering the 2018 NBA Draft to spend another season in college probably sounded like music to the ears of Missouri basketball fans.

Porter likened himself to Mizzou fans, but they shouldn’t believe the five-star freshman forward.

Related: Get to know Michael Porter Jr.

“I might come back just because I want to leave a legacy and help our team get back on course,” Porter told reporters at SEC Media Days on Wednesday. “Everybody thinks I’m not serious when I say that, but I actually might spend more than one year in college.”

If Porter decides to enter the draft, he’s likely the No. 1 overall pick. There are some certainties in life: The sky is blue, the Earth is flat round and an NBA team will use its lottery section on Porter if he chooses to enter the 2018 draft.

Porter would be foolish to stick around Columbia, Missouri, for a sophomore campaign, regardless of what happens this season or of his intentions. There’s too much money at stake.

Yes, Porter grew up in Columbia and his family has ties to Missouri. His father is a Tigers assistant, his brother Jontay reclassified so he could also play as an incoming freshman and two of his sisters play for Missouri’s women’s team, which his aunt coaches.

However, why would Porter risk getting selected lower in a subsequent draft by wanting to stick around Missouri for another season? Look at Forbes’ rookie salary projections for the 2017 draft. Through the first four years of No. 1 overall pick Markelle Fultz’s rookie contract, the Philadelphia 76ers guard is set to make twice as much as several other lottery picks.

While athletes can make money on endorsements, the average NBA career lasts less than five years.

Why would Porter sacrifice at least one more year — if he doesn’t get injured — of his earnings potential as an athlete by deciding to stay at Missouri? The potential earnings loss is too great, especially if he’s projected to go No. 1 overall.

SEC legend Joakim Noah was projected to go No. 1 overall if he decided to leave for the 2006 NBA Draft. The former Florida Gator­­­­­ slid to the Chicago Bulls with the No. 9 selection in the 2007 draft, and cost himself millions of dollars at the start of his career.

Kenyon Martin is the last No. 1 overall pick to have spent four years in college. He’s retired now, and best known for ridiculing Jeremy Lin. (Photo: Cincinnati Enquirer)

Recent history also provides an example of when most of the top underclassmen players choose to go to the NBA. Since the NBA changed its draft eligibility rules in 2005 to require prospects be at least 19 years old and one year removed from high school graduation, North Carolina’s Harrison Barnes is the only player rated No. 1 in his class by to spend more than one year in college.

It’s no secret the top NBA prospects are underclassmen because they have higher ceilings and more room for development. Kenyon Martin marks the last player to spend four years in college when the New Jersey Nets selected him with the No. 1 overall pick of the 2000 draft.

Porter could also learn from the plight of Dajuan Wagner, one of John Calipari’s former players at Memphis. Injuries and colitis derailed the promising NBA career of the former Cleveland Cavaliers guard, who was the sixth overall pick in the 2002 draft.

Wagner never played more than 47 games in a single season over the course of injury-riddled, five-year NBA career. He did make $7.4 million off his rookie deal thanks in part to Calipari.

Calipari refused to allow Wagner to return to Memphis for a sophomore season, according to the ESPN 30 for 30 documentary “One and Not Done.”

Wagner needed surgery to remove his colon, and it ended his NBA career after a comeback attempt in the 2006-2007 season. If Wagner had stayed at Memphis, it’s possible he would have never played in the NBA.

Hoops fans can hope Porter’s entire basketball career doesn’t follow the same trajectory as Wagner’s, but the current Missouri Tiger can learn from the former Memphis Tiger on the importance of knowing when to cash in on the fruits of his talent.

Mark Bergin is a journalist with 10News WTSP in Tampa/St. Petersburg, Florida. He’s also a Missouri School of Journalism graduate. Like him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter and Instagram. You can also email him at

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