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Michael Porter, Jr. cleared to return to basketball activities

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Missouri may be adding a lottery pick to its roster for the stretch run.

Michael Porter, Jr., who began the year projected as a potential No. 1 overall NBA draft pick, has been medically cleared to return to basketball activities after missing the entire season with a back injury, a source confirmed to NBC Sports.

CBS Sports’ Jon Rothstein was the first to report the news.

The 6-foot-11 freshman played the opening minutes of the Tigers’ opening game against Iowa State to start the year, but has been sidelined ever since. It is currently unclear if he’ll move from being cleared to play to actually hitting the floor for the Tigers.

It seemed unlikely that Porter would ever play college basketball because of the injury, but throughout the season he has never ruled out the possibility. Now that he has reportedly been cleared to play, the question undoubtedly will become should he?

Even without playing another second of college hoops, Porter will be a top pick in June’s draft. Some teams may even consider him for the top pick, if his health screenings check out, just based on workouts and the track record of his dominating play on the AAU circuit for years.

Still, if he’s healthy enough to play and wants to play, it’s unquestionable that it is a decision that is completely his. And it would make Missouri one heck of an interesting team.

The Tigers are 18-10 overall and 8-7 and appeared poised to make the NCAA tournament in coach Cuonzo Martin’s first year in Columbia. For their next game, they play – of course they do – Kentucky on Saturday. Talk about added intrigue for that game.

Tuesday’s Three Things to Know: URI survives, Kentucky comes back, Michigan State and Ohio State roll

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1. NO. 18 RHODE ISLAND SURVIVES A HERCULEAN EFFORT FROM LA SALLE’S B.J. JOHNSON

The 18th-ranked Rams clinched at least a share of the Atlantic 10 regular season title, but it wasn’t easy as they needed overtime to beat La Salle 95-93 in Philadelphia. The “foul or defend” question came up on multiple occasions late in regulation and overtime, with Rhode Island head coach Dan Hurley opting to foul each time. Late in regulation the strategy didn’t work out, as Tony Washington rebounded an intentional miss and scored the basket that forced overtime.

B.J. Johnson was outstanding in a losing effort for La Salle, finishing with 29 points and 23 rebounds. The rebound total was one off of the Atlantic 10’s single-game record, which is held by the late Yinka Dare. As for URI, Jeff Dowtin and Stanford Robinson led the way with 25 and 20 points, apiece, with the former also dishing out seven assists and grabbing five rebounds. With the win Rhode Island can clinch the outright A-10 title by beating Dayton Friday night, and the result also keeps the Rams in the conversation to earn a 4-seed (or possibly better) in the NCAA tournament.

BUBBLE BANTER: Texas A&M and Creighton suffer rough losses

2. KENTUCKY REBOUNDS FROM SLOW START TO WIN AT ARKANSAS

On multiple occasions John Calipari’s young team has produced efforts that led to many wondering if they had turned the corner. But after ending a four-game losing streak on Saturday, the Wildcats trailed Arkansas 11-0 with Darryl Macon and Jalen Barford serving as the sparks for the Razorbacks. But instead of wilting and getting blown out Kentucky fought, pulling even by halftime. And in the second half the Wildcats were even better, controlling the action and picking up an 87-72 victory.

Five Kentucky players scored in double figures, with Kevin Knox accounting for 23 points and seven rebounds and fellow freshman Shai Gilgeous-Alexander adding 18 points, seven assists and five rebounds. Three of the five double-figure scorers came off the bench, with Jarred Vanderbilt and Quade Green providing much-needed sparks in the first half. Kentucky’s now won back-to-back games for the first time since late January, and while that may not seem like a big deal it’s certainly a positive development for this group.

ALSO: NO. 21 WEST VIRGINIA GETS BACK TO BASICS IN WIN OVER BAYLOR

3. NO. 2 MICHIGAN STATE AND NO. 16 OHIO STATE HOLD SERVE

Both the Spartans and Buckeyes took care of overmatched foes on their respective senior nights, with Michigan State beating Illinois by 20 and Ohio State whipping Rutgers by 27. With its win Michigan State wrapped up at least a share of the Big Ten regular season title, and the Spartans can wrap up the top seed in next week’s Big Ten tournament with a win over Wisconsin on Sunday. Miles Bridges led the way with 19 points and Joshua Langford added 16 for Michigan State, which shot 47.1 percent from the field and 11-for-27 from three.

What Michigan State will need to do against Wisconsin will be known by tip-off, as Ohio State completes its regular season schedule Friday night at Indiana. Tuesday night, Chris Holtmann’s team rolled past an overmatched Rutgers squad, with C.J. Jackson scoring a game-high 18 points off the bench. Keita Bates-Diop shot just 3-for-11 from the field and scored six points, but Ohio State received quality efforts from multiple players as it ended a two-game losing streak.

Calipari defends Diallo, gives insight into own philosophy

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John Calipari was asked a question about struggling freshman Hamidou Diallo. He ended up giving an answer about his general coaching philosophy.

“Making them be responsible for who they are. In his case, I’m with Hami. He’s trying. He’s working,” Calipari said. “If he’s willing to do that and put in extra work, I’m for him. If you’re playing awful, I may not play you as much, but I’m going to play you and if you’re doing what we’re asking you to do, I’m going to encourage you.

“It would probably be easier when a guy plays poorly to say you’re out and i’m going with these seven I’m just not going to do that.”

Calipari likened the approach to what a well-intentioned parent might say to him about their son who is struggling.

“I would say (a parent) would say, ‘Coach, he’s responsible for himself, but please keep coaching him and let him know you love him and keep being there for him but hold him accountable,’” Calipari said. “‘If he’s not going to listen to you you should not play him. That’s what I think a parent that’s not trying to enable their son (should say).”

On the other hand, Calipari discussed what the opposite of that situation would look like.

“If they’re listening to an enabler, whoever that enabler is, I can’t help you,” he said. “I told you when I walked in the door, this is going to be about the players first and I’m trying to stay that course but they are responsible for themselves.

“If they can’t perform, I’m going to play you but when they’re not performing, you can’t be in there.”

Calipari can oftentimes be full of bluster – it’s an essential part of his Always Be Selling philosophy that’s won the hearts of countless five-star recruits and a national championship. But this looks to be an honest look into the way he views his job and role with his players. Give ultra-talented guys opportunity, but keep them accountable. It’s a simple thought, but one that few execute as well and as consistently as he does.

Kentucky’s Vanderbilt avoids surgery, but Baker has knee scoped

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Jarred Vanderbilt will be returning for Kentucky sooner than expected.

The 6-foot-9 McDonald’s All-American will not undergo surgery on his foot as previously expected and instead will begin conditioning with an eye on returning to the court, John Calipari said after the Wildcats’ exhibition win Monday over Morehead State, according to SEC Country.

Vanderbilt suffered the injury late last month, and surgery was expected to keep him sidelined until January.

“Jarred’s on his way back, so America gotta be scared right now,” point guard Quade Green said of Vanderbilt. “I call him the next Lamar Odom. I know that’s big expectations for him, but he really plays just like Lamar Odom. He rebounds, can score any way he wants, he can shoot a little bit.

“His shot’s gotten a lot better, too. He can dribble, he can defend. He’s a guy who can do everything.”

Calipari, though, wasn’t full of only positive developments for Big Blue Nation. Freshman guard Jemarl Baker had his knee scoped and will miss three months. The four-star guard committed to Kentucky this past spring and was expected to bolster the Wildcats’ shooting.

“We’re not as bad as everybody says shooting the ball,” Calipari said. “I’m with them every day.”

Vanderbilt does not have a targeted return date, but Kentucky plans to have him workout with assistant coach Kenny Payne before joining the team at practice again.

The Wildcats open the season Nov. 10, against Utah Valley.

John Wall to be inducted into Kentucky Hall of Fame

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A one-and-done is on a one-way trip to the University of Kentucky Hall of Fame.

Kentucky announced on Monday that John Wall, the first overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft, will be inducted in the same class as current Green Bay Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb.

“He set the tone of where college basketball was going — not just Kentucky,” head coach John Calipari said on Twitter on Monday morning.

Wall averaged 16.6 points, 6.5 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 1.8 steals per game in his 37-game career with the Wildcats, which ended in the Elite Eight. He would be named as a first-team All-American by the Associated Press.

The 6-foot-4 floor general was part of Calipari’s first recruiting class at Kentucky. Wall and fellow freshmen, DeMarcus Cousins and Eric Bledsoe went on to become first round selections in the 2010 NBA Draft.

Wall’s seven-year career has been spent with the Washington Wizards, making four All-Star appearances.

Kentucky planning charity game between alumni and NBA stars

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During his time at Kentucky, head coach John Calipari has coached 32 players who went on to be NBA draft picks.

So, what would a Calipari-era Kentucky alumni team look like?

That’s something Kentucky Deputy Director of Athletics DeWayne Peevy is trying to figure out. Peevy, in an interview with Kentucky Sports Radio on Monday afternoon, discussed his plans to have a UK alumni team square off against NBA superstars in a charity game.

“What I’d like to do … everybody talks about this all-Kentucky basketball team,” Peevy said. “That’s all we’ve been hearing about. I mean, I’m getting Google alerts all day about what the all-Kentucky basketball team looks like. I’d like to do that and invite one of these so-called, ‘NBA super teams’ to play against us, whether it’s the Warriors, the Rockets, you know, all these people putting these teams together, come play us.”

“I got a few feelers out, I’m talking to James Harden and Kevin Durant,” Peevy added. “Bring a team. I don’t even care if they combine themselves. They’re not taking down the Big Blue Nation.”

Peevy said that this game is set for Friday, August 25. It’s fitting, a day before the Floyd Mayweather-Connor McGregor megafight in Las Vegas, Peevy is speaking like a boxing promoter.

This won’t be the first time Kentucky has hosted a big-time charity event. In 2015, days after Calipari was enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, a Kentucky alumni team defeated a North Carolina alumni team, 122-115, as fundraising from the game reached $1.5 million.