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Michael Porter Jr. will not play tonight, reportedly eyes SEC Tournament return

The phenom freshman will sit out today’s season finale against Arkansas.

NCAA Basketball: Missouri at Vanderbilt Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Right before I was about to go on the radio with Jeff Parles at KTGR, my email notification sounded with an update from the Athletics department and a statement from Michael Porter Jr:

“After two more practices since coming home from Nashville, the coaching staff and I feel that it is in the best interest of the team and myself to not play tonight. Coming back from three months without practicing has been a challenge, but it is a challenge that I am taking on every day. The plan is to keep working, with an eye on potentially playing at the SEC Tournament and helping our squad be successful in the postseason. I’m excited to continue my role of bringing energy on the bench for our Senior Night against Arkansas, as it is a special night for Brett, Jordan and Kassius.”

It’s easy to forget, as we’ve been contemplating a potential return since November, that Michael has only practiced a handful of times. He was cleared last Thursday, which means he practiced Friday, there was a game Saturday. The team went straight to Nashville from Lexington for a game Tuesday. And came home Tuesday night. They didn’t practice Wednesday, but did again Thursday and Friday. That means MPJ has probably had four full practices since being cleared.

Everything around Porter is a circus, so it makes a lot of sense to release this statement in the morning and let the day be about three seniors and Mizzou’s last home game. Taking the white hot heat off of the “Will-he-won’t-he?” crowd, and putting the attention back on the team which has Missouri on the verge of an NCAA tournament bid just one season after going 8-24.

Jeff Goodman had an addendum for the rest of us:

This is good news. It means what we all think it means: Mike wants to play.

And if MPJ feels good and wants to play, he’s going to play. But he’s gotta be ready and I think him NOT playing today is more about his body not quite being ready than anything else.

I know we all like a good conspiracy theory but I feel like this is what it is. Porter wants to play. Mizzou Nation wants him to play. The coaches want him to play. So he’s going to do what he can to get ready to play. And hopefully we get to see him in St. Louis in the SEC tournament.

BTW, if you want to hear my immediate comments following the release on KTGR, you can listen to the podcast here: