In what was the worst kept secret in the world of recruiting, 2017 five-star small forward Michael Porter Jr. committed to Washington on Friday night.
Porter, who is ranked 4th in ESPN’s top 100 for the class of 2017, chose the Huskies over Missouri, Virginia, Indiana and Oklahoma. It was an obvious decision for the Seattle, WA native as Huskies head coach Lorenzo Romar is his godfather and Romar just recently reeled in Michael Porter Sr. off of the Missouri women’s basketball staff.
On top of the connections with the coaching staff, Porter’s younger, Jontay, has already verbally committed to Washington in 2018.
Porter is a dynamic wing player with excellent physical tools. He has great size for his position (6’10”), solid athleticism and great length, but most importantly, Porter is an elite scorer, as he makes plays on all three levels.
He’s not the strongest player in the world, however, he can get to the rim with ease, can pull up in the mid-range, is a terrific player in transition, and can use his physical profile to pull up over defenders from beyond the arc.
The small forward has to become a much better passer and work on his ball handling skills, but Porter very well could be the most polished 2018 NBA Draft prospect. You know what your going to get offensively from the Washington native, and his versatility on both ends of the floor is second to none.
To me, Michael Porter Jr., is the safest pick to be a really, really good NBA player down the road. Has the entire package— on and off court
— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanHoops) July 15, 2016
After a monster performance at Peach Jam, where Porter scored 33 points and led Mokan Elite to the title, he has slid himself into the conversation as the possible number one player in the class of 2017. While DeAndre Ayton also performed at a high level during the best AAU Tournament in the country, Porter averaged 20 points, grabbed nine rebounds and blocked 1.4 shots per game.
And he has the chance to take his game to the next level before he even steps foot on a college floor. Porter is transferring to Nathan Hale for his final year of high school basketball. He will be coached by former Portland Trail Blazer and Washington alumnus, Brandon Roy, who can help Porter learn different facets of the game while also preparing him for what is to come in college.
Meanwhile, Romar has recruited at a high level over these past few seasons. There is a strong possibility that Washington will have three straight lottery picks in three years – Marquese Chriss, Markelle Fultz and Porter. Add on the San Antonio Spurs selecting Dejounte Murray late in the first round and the recent addition of 2017 point guard Blake Harris, and Washington is in business in terms of reeling in high level talent.
The problem with Romar and company is that they haven’t made the Big Dance since 2011, losing to UNC in the second round. Romar’s ability to relate to players has kept him off the hot seat, but if the Huskies aren’t able to make the NCAA Tournament in the next two years with sure-fire NBA talent, the head coach may not last beyond the 2017-18 season.
With youth up and down their roster, Washington wasn’t expected to be a strong team this past season. However, they did surprise some people and became one of the most exciting teams to watch in the nation due to their up-tempo offensively scheme.
Now, with Fultz, David Crisp, Matisse Thybulle, Malik Dime, Noah Dickerson, Dominic Green, Sam Timmins, and Matthew Atewe, the Huskies have a nice core group that should compete in the Pac-12 this upcoming season.
And if they do make the Big Dance, that will be a precursor to what should be an excellent team, led by Porter, in 2017-18.
Rick Barnes Says He Would Have Left Tennessee if UCLA Paid Buyout
Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes could have been the next head coach for UCLA, instead of Mick Cronin, if only the Bruins were willing to open up their wallets.
Barnes says that if UCLA would have promised to pay Barnes’ $5 million buyout, he would have left Tennessee to take the job at UCLA.
“I think I would’ve been the coach at UCLA,” Barnes said (h/t ESPN). “I’ve said that to people before. I really felt at that time that’s what would happen.”
Barnes was honest and open with his decision process during the news conference, saying that he struggled with making a final decision due to financial matters.
Barnes has since agreed to a new deal with Tennessee that will pay him $4 million per year before increasing to a $6 million annual sum by the end of the contract and provide more cash for his assistants.
“I’m supposed to be at Tennessee,” Barnes said. “And it’s really above and beyond the basketball program. I’m in love with this community. I’m in love with this state. I just think we got a lot of great things going on in this town.”
“A lot of praying went into it, I can tell you that,” Barnes said. “There was a lot going on. When you get down to a situation like that, it has to make sense from a financial standpoint. Bottom line is we couldn’t work it out with the buyout.”
Barnes also informed UCLA that he would not depart Knoxville without talking to athletic director Phillip Fulmer and others in the community.
I told them point blank, ‘I’m not going to walk out of here and not meet with my team,'” Barnes said. “‘I’m not going to walk out of here and not meet with people here that have been really good to me.’ … I said, ‘You just can’t say send a plane tomorrow and we’re leaving. I’m going to make sure this is done the right way.'”
“There was one time in my mind I truly felt that’s what would happen,” Barnes said about potentially taking the UCLA offer. “It got to that point where I felt like my prayers had been answered.”
The Madness is Underway
As we inch closer to selection Sunday, many conference tournaments are underway finding teams who will automatically make the NCAA Men’s basketball. Here are the teams that currently in the tournament:
Atlantic Sun: Liberty
Big South: Gardner–Webb
Horizon: Northern Kentucky
Missouri Valley: Bradley
MEC: Fairleigh Dickinson
Ohio Valley: Murray State
Summit League: North Dakota State
Summit League: Saint Marry’s
Out of the 32 conferences with automatic bids in the tournament, 12 of them have been clinched. All the until selection Sunday the remaining 20 conferences will have their tickets punched. Who will that be? Stay tuned!
Tennessee Basketball Ranked 4th In (Early) Preseason Top 25
A school built on football lure now has a thriving basketball team to get behind. In a early CBS basketball poll, the Volunteer squad is ranked 4th in the preseason. This should bring relief to a fan base whose struggled with a lackluster football team in recent years.
Under Coach Rick Barnes (SEC Coach of the year 2017) the Vols went 26-9 last year, won a share of the regular season SEC title and reached the final of the SEC tournament. Tennessee should return most of their pivotal pieces for the 2018-19 season.
Admiral Schofield (2017-2018 ALL SEC second teamer) who tested the NBA waters has returned for his senior year to play along side Grant Williams (SEC player of the year) and Kyle Alexander. If they can stay healthy along with the supporting cast, this team has a legitimate chance to reach the final four.
According to Andy Katz, “Tennessee is the team to beat in the SEC this year,” and did I mention Coach Barnes recruiting is nothing to take lightly. Recently committed 5 star combo guard, Josiah James added his name to the class of 2019 and pushed the Vols recruiting into the top 10 nationally.
Although it’s too early to tell how this season will play out its certain the hype is warranted and reaching heights it hasn’t seen since the Bruce Pearl era.
Could it be!? Tennessee – a basketball school?
Follow the journey when the Volunteers tip off against Louisiana Lafayette on November 9th.
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