Missouri Tigers forward Michael Porter Jr. (13) comes out of the game

(Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports)

Martin: Porter Jr. Leaves Program Changing Legacy At Mizzou

As Porter Jr.'s tenure ends, his young brother's is expected to reach another level this season.

June 22, 2018 - 1:25 pm
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ST. LOUIS (KMOX) - Two former Univeristy of Missouri Tigers officially became professional basketball players Thursday night, as Michael Porter Jr. was drafted No. 14 overall by the Denver Nuggets and Jordan Barnett was signed after the draft as a free agent by the Milwaukee Bucks. 

In attendance with Porter Jr. and his family was Mizzou head coach Cuonzo Martin, who spoke with media via phone conference, Friday morning. He was asked about what the "legacy" is that Porter Jr. has left on Mizzou, after coming in as the No. 1 recruit in the nation, but playing in just three games due to back surgery. 

"The minute he said 'I'm going to Mizzou' it changed the trajectory of our program and the preception of our program changed around the country," Martin says. "Mike was the most talked about guy last night and I think rightfully so, he earned it. You don't become the No. 1 high school guy in America by luck. He put the work in and he stamped his claim for several years, so that was legitimate. But I thought he did a great job and he'll always be part of our program." 

Porter was rumored to go as high as the No. 2 pick in the draft, but fell outside the top-10 to Denver. Martin says the 19-year-old never lost his composure throughout the night. 

The Mizzou coach also says he had his eye on Porter Jr.'s younger brother, Jontay, who will return for his sophomore year as the SEC's reigning Co-Sixth Man of the Year. Jontay Porter tested the waters of the NBA, attending the draft combine and meeting with NBA teams and believed he was going to be selected in the first round of this year's draft. But he decided to return to Columbia, likely for just one last season in the NCAA.

"It was good for Jontay to hear so that when he goes back to his teammates he'll say, 'Man, everyone talked about playing hard, playing defense, playing as a team.' He heard that throughout the night and I thought it was great for him to witness that," Martin says. "What it also showed Jontay was how hard you have to work and how consistent you have to be, you have to have a business-like approach to be successful." 

Martin and Mizzou fans were obviously happy to hear Jontay Porter's 11.5 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game during conference play will return to Columbia this fall. Martin says he expects those numbers to go up and plans for Jontay Porter to be used, situationally, at nearly every position next year.

"He'll bring the ball up for us at times, I'm not calling him the point guard, but depending on who is guarding him in certain games we'll have him bring the ball up and initiate our offense from there and have the other guys moving because I think he's grown into that," Martin says. "I think he's playing at a high level right now and I think that has a lot to do with those NBA workouts." 

Barnett, a St. Louis native and graduate of CBC High School not surprisingly went undrafted last night, but was then signed by the Bucks and plans to play in the NBA Summer League, July 6-17. Martin says after the conclusion of the draft, he texted Barnett and told him "time to go to work." He believes Barnett will be one of those "three and D" NBA guys who can be a long-range specialist with above-average defense. 

 "I think he's a guy that can play in the NBA for 10 years because of his athleticism and his ability to make shots," Martin says. "I think his best basketball is ahead of him." 

Martin was also asked about Mizzou's only other graduating senior, Kassius Robertson, saying that he was texting with the All-SEC First-Team selection Friday morning and he's "working towards" joining a Summer League team.