Michael Porter Jr. to return for SEC Tournament play
COLUMBIA - Missouri basketball coach Cuonzo Martin announced Wednesday freshman Michael Porter Jr. will play in SEC Tournament games later this week.
Martin also told reporters Porter will not start, though he has been actively participating in practice. Porter has not seen game action since the first game of the season, Nov. 10, 2017 against Iowa State. He underwent back surgery November 21.
The team originally stated he would be out 3-4 months.
The decision to return to play was entirely up to the 6-foot-10 freshman forward, according to Martin. He said Porter approached him on Tuesday after practice and said he felt ready to play.
Martin said he does not think that Porter is "100 percent," but game and practice time will get him there.
"We'll play it like he's part of the team," Martin said. "My gauge for anybody that plays in a game is take him out for foul trouble or if he's exhausted."
Martin said he is not worried about team chemistry being affected by Porter's return.
"He has a presence on the floor," Martin said. "He helps other guys around him, helps another guy make a play and score the ball."
Porter was named the Gatorade National Player of the Year as a senior at Nathan Hale high school in Seattle. ESPN ranked Porter the second best recruit in the class of 2017.
The Tigers tip off Thursday at 2:30 p.m. against the winner of Georgia and Vanderbilt, two teams Missouri beat previously this season by a combined 20 points.
In other news, Jordan Geist is feeling ill and didn't practice. He is expected to play, but walk-on Brett Rau is also expected to receive minutes.