Michael Porter Jr. is aware of the skepticism surrounding the heralded forward’s decision to back out of his letter of intent at the University of Washington and play at Missouri, a struggling program that recently hired his father as an assistant coach.
Porter, ranked the No. 1 prospect in his class by multiple recruiting services, is a featured attraction at the McDonald’s All-American Game tonight in Chicago. Jerry Meyer, the director of basketball scouting for 247Sports, says Porter is “one of the more talented prospects that I’ve scouted in my 15 years in the business.”
Porter, who was the Gatorade State Player of the Year after leading Nathan Hale to the 3A state title at the Tacoma Dome earlier this month, said the talk about his college decision is blown out of proportion.
“People act like I got forced into this decision because my dad is going to coach there,” Porter said. “But, nah, I want to play for my dad. I trust him.”
Porter initially planned to attend UW, a selection he made after his father had joined Huskies coach Lorenzo Romar’s staff. After Romar was fired two weeks ago, Porter reopened his recruitment.
Missouri announced Thursday the elder Porter had agreed to become an assistant on new Tigers coach Cuonzo Martin’s staff. One day later, Porter Jr. tweeted that he was going to Missouri .
This isn’t uncommon in recruiting wars.
NCAA rules permit schools to hire the family members of prospects for coaching positions. Schools are prohibited from hiring relatives of recruits for non-coaching staff positions for the two years before that prospect’s enrollment and after his arrival.
Danny Manning and Mario Chalmers played on national championship teams at Kansas and had fathers on the coaching staff during their college careers. Ronnie Chalmers was hired after his son already had signed with the Jayhawks.
Oregon State hired Stephen Thompson as an assistant coach in 2014 and has since signed two of the former Syracuse star’s sons: Stephen Thompson Jr. and Ethan Thompson.
K.J. Lawson and Dedric Lawson signed with Memphis after former Tigers coach Josh Pastner hired their father, Keelon Lawson, as an assistant. K.J. verbally committed to Memphis before his dad joined its staff.
“A lot of these guys have coaching backgrounds and credentials to back up the hires,” said Eric Bossi, a national basketball analyst for Rivals. “I think if it’s legal to do it, why wouldn’t you do it? You have to weigh the benefits of it – how much can a coach help you elsewhere besides locking up his own gene pool. But I think it’s proven to work out pretty well for the places that have done it, and a lot of the guys have gone on to stay in coaching.”
The elder Porter’s coaching background includes six years on the Missouri women’s basketball staff – three as director of basketball operations and three more as an assistant coach.
“Most players that have played for my dad realized that he is a caring guy,” Porter Jr. said. “He cares about you on and off the court so they usually come back with positive outlook on his coaching.”