First things first: Want to read a column that will make your eyes roll back in your head so hard that it throws you back in your chair? BOY, HAVE I GOT JUST THE THING FOR YOU.
Now that that’s all the way, we’ll start this links post with a couple of old links.
When Washington’s Lorenzo Romar hired his good friend Michael Porter Sr. as an assistant coach last year, it not only took away the Missouri basketball program’s most direct connection to Michael’s insanely talented, 2017 blue-chip son Michael Jr. (and his also-insanely-talented younger brother Jontay), it also disconnected Mizzou fans a bit from the insanely unique story that is the Porter family in general.
So let’s get reacquainted.
It was the early 1990s, and Michael Porter, with a bag of ice strapped to each knee, was leaving a YMCA in Lebanon, Ohio, where his Athletes in Action basketball team had been practicing. Lisa Becker, who was about to join the women’s team, was walking in.
“We kind of bumped into each other,” he said.
It was an appropriate, if not romantic, introduction. Two decades and eight children later, the former Division I athletes are the heads of the first family of Columbia basketball.
A Meet-Cute that, two decades later, might end up helping to change the trajectory of both Mizzou basketball programs.
Lisa is the sister of Missouri women’s basketball Coach Robin Pingeton, and Michael is an assistant coach for the MU women’s team. Bri, 19, and Cierra, 18, helped lead the Rock Bridge girls basketball team to three straight state titles. Bri moved on to Missouri, and Cierra will join her there once she’s finished with her final run as a Bruin. Michael Jr., 16, is the leader of Tolton’s top-ranked boys team and the No. 2 recruit nationally in the 2017 class, according to ESPN. His brother Jontay, 15, is a freshman for the Trailblazers and a D-I prospect, as well.
The youngest four siblings — Coban, 13; Jevon, 11; Izaak, 9; and Jayda, 6 — all play basketball, too, so Columbia will be awash in Porters for the foreseeable future.
And with Michael Sr. once again employed by the University of Missouri, all is right with the world once more.
Michael Sr. started training his kids when they were young, some of them before kindergarten. The focus, he said, was to ensure that his kids developed perimeter skills. You see, Michael Sr. is 6-foot-4, as is his wife, Lisa. She played at Iowa and professionally in Europe. Michael Sr. played at New Orleans. He knew his kids were probably going to be tall, and he knew they would probably be athletic. That kind of thing tends to run in the family, but it’s also the kind of trait that can pigeon-hole a player down the road.
“They were taller when they were younger,” Michael Sr. said, “and everyone kept putting them under the basket. ‘Get the rebounds, don’t dribble, throw it to a guard.’ What if my daughter or my son ends up 5-foot-8?”
So he taught them how to dribble and he taught them how to shoot while teaching them to love the game and ingraining in them a love for the process that’s required when trying to be the best at what you do.
All the while, Lisa was teaching her kids.
The Porters home-schooled their children. The five oldest lasted through the eighth grade, when high school transcripts and college eligibility would have become the complicating factor. They plan on doing the same with the three youngest.
Oh yeah, one more part:
Service is something that is important to this family. They’re quite religious. Michael Sr. spent more than a decade producing and performing Christian hip hop under the stage name Rahlo, which is not exactly the most profitable or popular genre of music. But he was good enough that it allowed him to travel around the world to perform. He says he toured South Africa twice, making it to a handful of European countries. He even brought Michael Jr. with him to a show in Jamaica when Jr. was nine years old.
This is a really, really unique family. And if things continue to go according to plan, Mizzou might have reason to get to know the Porters even more through the coming years.
Oh hey, speaking of those plans...
Word from Porter family is Michael Jr. 98% sure about decision. "Doesn't want this to linger," said Mom. Likely social media announcement— Jayda Evans (@JaydaEvans) March 24, 2017
From everything I’ve ever read about Michael Jr., he’s a lot like me in one and only one way:
He can jump out of the gym He really enjoys the thought of going about 18 different places. Oklahoma to play with my good friend Trae Young? That sounds awesome! Virginia to play for Tony Bennett? Cool! Et cetera, et cetera. That makes honing in on an actual decision pretty difficult sometimes, but all indications are that the location of that “98% sure” school is Columbia, MO. Things could still take a turn, but it looks good for now.
Looks really good for now.
Just got off of the phone with Jontay Porter (@JontayPorter)...— Alec Lewis (@alec_lewis) March 24, 2017
On reclassification, Jontay Porter said: "As of right now, I'm not reclassifying." Added that it "could change."— Alec Lewis (@alec_lewis) March 24, 2017
On his bro, Michael Porter Jr.'s decision, he said: "He's a real indecisive dude. It's hard to put a number on what he's leaning towards."— Alec Lewis (@alec_lewis) March 24, 2017
Like I said...
Jontay did say on MPJ and #Mizzou: "I think it's definitely a great option for him just because of family and recent coaching changes."— Alec Lewis (@alec_lewis) March 24, 2017
Jontay Porter on returning to Columbia: pic.twitter.com/xpyMHhFOeT— Alec Lewis (@alec_lewis) March 24, 2017
Jontay Porter on this last week: "It's been an amazing, crazy journey. I'm not sure there's ever been a situation like this."— Alec Lewis (@alec_lewis) March 24, 2017
The Porters are getting to know Cuonzo Martin, and barring any sort of unforeseen, unfortunate developments, Mizzou will have further reason to get to know the Porters.
Meanwhile, a couple of Cuonzo Martin videos for you.
And while Cal’s season took a turn in February, after this video went up, here’s another recent Cuonzo video for you:
- Mizzou Baseball’s three-game series with Arkansas is scheduled to begin this evening at 6:30 pm on SEC+, buuuuuuuuut Weather.com says there is a 100% chance of rain/storms at that time this evening. And a 70% chance of rain at Saturday’s scheduled first-pitch time (2pm). We’ll see if/when these games take place. Regardless, two things from the game notes listed above: 1) Tim Jamieson is scheduled to be on the call with Ben Arnet on SEC+ tonight, which is both odd and awesome. 2) The “WE'RE GOING UP THROUGH THE QUAD TO THE GYMNASIUM” header? I get it.
- Robbie Glendinning has been a damn revelation for Steve Bieser’s team this year. Get to know the Aussie a little better.
- Mizzou Softball’s bats heading to College Station: very much awake.
- Three top-15 finishes in the winter sports have kept Mizzou in excellent position in the Learfield Cup. The Tigers currently rank a school-best 20th overall.
- The second day of the NCAA Swimming & Diving Championships was pretty good for Mizzou — the Tigers set four school records and logged two top-four finishes: Michael Chadwick was fourth in the 50 free, and Mizzou finished fourth in the 400 medley. Mizzou is ninth overall at the moment.
- The SEC is almost as ridiculous in tennis as it is in gymnastics. Next up for Mizzou Tennis: a Friday visit from No. 24 South Carolina and a Sunday visit from No. 1 Florida. Ranked team after ranked team after ranked team.