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Cuonzo Martin ‘wouldn’t be shocked’ to see Michael Porter back this year


Michael Porter Jr., Missouri Athletics

Christina Long

The idea of Michael Porter Jr. returning to play at some point this season has been in the back of everyone’s mind, this season.

Porter underwent surgery on his back after playing just two minutes in the season-opener, and while he has hinted at the idea that he could end up retuning to the court at some point this season, the idea has always been written off.

Head coach Cuonzo Martin, however, refused to rule out the idea of his soon-to-be top five pick playing at some point this season.

“This week, he started working out -- not on the floor, but just doing different things with our strength and conditioning coach Nicodemus [Christopher], agility work, bouncing the ball, but nothing with practice,” Martin said told the Kansas City Star. “I wouldn’t be shocked if I saw him on the floor. And I’m not saying that, because he hasn’t practiced or anything, so don’t misinterpret that, but I wouldn’t be shocked.”

“I know he’s fighting hard to get on the floor. He’s looking good, his body’s great. He’s actually gotten bigger, just looking at him. And he’s been one of my best cheerleaders on the sideline.”

Frankly, I think it would be a silly idea to risk re-injuring a surgically-repaired back while playing for free when it could end up costing him tens of millions of dollars. Porter could end up earning nine figures playing basketball. Rushing back to play in college seems silly.

But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t want to do it.

Think about it like this: Michael’s family is extremely close. There are eight brothers and sisters. His aunt coaches the Missouri women’s team, where his two older sisters have played. His dad used to be an assistant for the Missouri women’s team and is now an assistant for the Missouri men’s team. His younger brother Jontay enrolled early specifically for a chance to play with Michael for one year in college. I am sure he really, really wants the chance to get on the floor with little bro.

And that is before you consider this: Without Michael, Missouri looks like they will comfortably get into the NCAA tournament. Keep in mind, there were many high school talent scouts that believed that Michael was a better prospect and player than Marvin Bagley III and Deandre Ayton coming out of high school. He was so good that no one realized his AAU teammate Trae Young was as good as he has proven to be.

If Michael should find a way to get healthy, in shape and shake off the rust of having been out for so long, it’s not crazy to think that Missouri would end up being one of the 10 or 15 best teams in America. They could make a Final Four in a season that is as wide open as this season is.

It’s a risk, but put yourself in Michael’s shoes. Wouldn’t you want to come back and play in those games?