The official collegiate debut for Missouri freshman phenom Michael Porter Jr. was a short one, as he played just two minutes in Friday’s 74-59 win over Iowa State after aggravating a leg injury during pregame warmups. Fans will have to wait a bit to see Porter return to the court, as it was reported by ESPN’s Sean Farnham that the freshman will miss Monday’s game against Wagner.
With Porter out of the lineup his likely replacement is junior Kevin Puryear, who made significant contributions off the bench in Missouri’s regular season opener. Puryear played 29 minutes Friday night, shooting 6-for-7 from the field and scoring 17 points while also grabbing eight rebounds.
Also performing well in the front court against Iowa State was freshman Jeremiah Tilmon, who finished his collegiate debut with 14 points (7-for-9 FG), seven rebounds and one blocked shot. Jontay Porter, Michael’s younger brother, added five points, four rebounds and three assists in his first collegiate game.
NEW FACES, NEW PLACES: Which college hoops hires are set up for success … and failure?
Beginning in September and running up until November 10th, the first day of the season, College Basketball Talk will be unveiling the 2017-2018 NBCSports.com college hoops preview package.
Making a coaching hire is more than just winning the press conference.
A jolt of energy and excitement into a program is nice, but ultimately fit between coach and program – from personality to style to recruiting footprint – will decide which programs flourish and which flounder.
Here are five coaches and programs that are set up to succeed with their new arraignment …
… and five that look destined for trouble.
1. ARCHIE MILLER, Indiana: Plenty of programs came calling for Archie Miller over the years as he piled up wins and NCAA tournament bids, but none could. Until Indiana came open, offering more than $3 million and the chance to take the reigns of one of the most tradition-rich programs in the history of college basketball. The Hoosiers and Miller are a match that seems destined to work.
The Hoosiers aren’t likely to contend atop the Big Ten this year as the roster just isn’t built for instant success, if it were, Tom Crean would likely still be installed in Bloomington, but this ranking is based on instant success. Indiana was only able to get Miller to leave Dayton because it offers one of college basketball’s best jobs, and Indiana only wanted Miller because he’s proven to be one of the sport’s best young coaches.
The only question is if Miller can recruit at a level commensurate to his new position, something he didn’t have to do in Dayton. Given his reputation and the resources available to him at Indiana, that seems like a sure bet.
2. CHRIS HOLTMANN, Ohio State: Holtmann is in much the same situation as Miller, taking over at an accomplished program with a huge athletic department budget but a slump success recently. Holtmann took over the Butler program in 2014 amid difficult circumstances when Brandon Miller took a medical leave of absence, and keep the program humming along, going to three-straight NCAA tournaments as a single-digit seed as the Bulldogs navigated their transition to the Big East.
Ohio State has missed back-to-back NCAA tournaments, but Thad Matta’s program has proven that winning at an elite level in Columbus can be done with regularity and over an extended period of time. The Buckeyes’ recruiting footprint has a plethora of talented players living within it, and it’s one Holtmann is well acquainted with having spent nearly his entire career in the midwest. This pairing is a natural fit, and one that should pay major dividends.
3. BRAD UNDERWOOD, Illinois: The third Big Ten coach on here, but Underwood is another proven winner with the chops to get it done. Underwood maxed out Oklahoma State in his lone season in Stillwater, getting Jawun Evans into the NBA draft and helping Jeffrey Carroll blossom into an all-Big 12 player. He’s shown he can develop players at a high level and has the Xs-and-Os acumen to accumulate a 109-27 in his four years as a head coach.
Underwood has already experienced the good and the bad of recruiting his new home state as the Illini pulled five-star point guard Ayo Dosunmo from Chicago, but that reportedly caused their recruitment of another Chicago kid, four-star wing Talen Horton-Tucker, to go sideways. Whatever the truth about what really happened, it illustrates the potential politics and landmines that exist when recruiting the Windy City. If Underwood can do that, and getting Dosunmu suggests that he and his staff can to at least some degree, Champaign could become a destination and Illinois could regain its place among Big Ten contenders. That is, of course, assuming that there’s no carryover to Underwood from his former Oklahoma State assistant Lamont Evans’ arrest by the FBI last month.
4. MIKE RHOADES, VCU: VCU has proven itself to be one of the best jobs outside of a Power 5 conference over the last decade-plus. Jeff Capel and Anthony Grant had enough sucess to jump to a high-major job after four and three seasons, respectively, and Shaka Smart became one of the most sought-after coaches in the country after just a pair of seasons before jumping to resource-rich and expectation-light Texas after five-straight NCAA tournaments. Most recently, Will Wade turned VCU into LSU after just a pair of seasons.
Rhoades seems primed to take advantage of the situation, not in that he’ll look to make a jump from Richmond to a Power 5, but to use the foundation already in place to keep VCU atop the Atlantic 10 and relevant nationally. He’s a former Smart assistant that spent a decade coaching in the DIvision III ranks. Seemingly any coach VCU hires is set up for success, but Rhoades appears to be a seamless fit.
5. CUONZO MARTIN, Missouri: Missouri may have slid into mediocrity – and under Kim Anderson well past it – for much of the past decade, but the Tigers’ job is one with plenty of potential. And Martin looks poised to make the most of his fourth head coaching job in 10 years by taking the shortcut to success that was hiring Michael Porter, Sr., which landed him a potential No. 1 draft pick in Michael Porter, Jr. and five-star Center Jontay Porter. Plus Missouri landed Jeremiah Tilmon, an Illinois defection.
Landing the highly-talented sons of an assistant coach may not be the most sustainable way to success, but it’s a heck of a jump start. If you can get the two Porter brothers, you do it and figure out the future later. Nothing breeds success like success, and Martin’s strategy should bring some immediately to Columbia.
1. MIKE BOYNTON, Oklahoma State: Brad Underwood bounced from Oklahoma State after feeling like the Sooners were skimping on him financially, declining to give him a significant raise from the below-market $1 million salary after taking the Cowboys to the NCAA tournament. In response…Oklahoma State apparently went the fiscally conservative route of simply elevating Boynton from assistant to the head job for a similar amount of money.
Whether or not Boynton is the man for the job is hard to say, but the perspective here is that Oklahoma State just went the cheap route, declining to invest in its hoops program. That’s a tough way to start a tenure, but making it even more difficult is that outside Jeff Carroll, there’s not a ton of talent in Stillwater. Oh, then there’s the small matter of an FBI investigation into corruption that has ensnared Oklahoma State and resulted in the firing of assistant Lamont Evans. Not ideal for anyone’s first head coaching gig.
2. WYKING JONES, California: Jones’ circumstances aren’t that far off from Boynton’s. They both succeeded coaches who found themselves on the better end of these two lists, and both are going to be making $1 million a year (a relatively small number by Power 5 standards) to try to improve a basketball situation that is less than ideal. Again, tough spot to start your head coaching career.
Jones’ roster is almost completely turning over, making this pretty much a full-scale rebuild. The Bears will need some serious recruiting wins in the next year or two for Jones to get things pointed in the right direction.
3. BRIAN DUTCHER, San Diego State: Dutcher was right by Steve Fisher’s side for all 18 years that Fisher was in southern California, turning the Aztecs into a relevant program. SDSU went to six-straight NCAA tournaments from 2010-15, including get a two-seed in 2011.
Fisher’s retirement, though, comes on the heels of back-to-back NCAA tournament misses in which the Aztecs fell from 28 wins to 19. Dutcher certainly has the resume that warrants getting this job, but it’s also fair to wonder if the program needs a breath of fresh air.
4. PATRICK EWING, Georgetown: Ewing is very respected in coaching circles after spending his post-playing career under some of the top NBA minds, but returning Georgetown back to prominence will take a lot more than being a bright basketball thinker. Ewing has never recruited, and that will be his biggest hurdle in trying to get the Hoyas in the mix both in the Big East.
There’s also the strangeness of the whole situation, which is really what makes this a tough spot more than anything. Ewing is succeeding John Thompson III, the son of the man, John Thompson II, who turned Georgetown into a national power and coached Ewing as a Hoya. That’s awkward. It’s even more awkward if Georgetown doesn’t win big relatively quickly. There’s reason for optimism (though pulling out of the PK-80 would suggest maybe not this year), but there’s a ton of expectation on an unproven head coach who has to navigate some tricky politics. It is D.C., after all.
5. BRIAN GREGORY, South Florida: Gregory turned a solid run at Dayton into a gig at Georgia Tech, where he missed the NCAA tournament each year and just twice was over .500. It’s difficult to see how he’ll have much better luck with the Bulls. The AAC got stronger this year with the inclusion of Wichita State while Houston and SMU continue to build their programs to compete with the historical powers like Memphis and UConn, who are both down now but seem unlikely to stay that way. South Florida hasn’t been above .500 since Stan Heath’s last year in 2012, and the program doesn’t appear set up to succeed any time soon.
Mizzou-Kansas benefit game raises nearly 2M for charity
While there’s still a demand that longtime rivals Missouri and Kansas resume their basketball series at some point, Sunday’s exhibition game in Kansas City helped whet the appetites of many in attendance. But more important than the series and the opportunity for head coaches Cuonzo Martin and Bill Self to get an early evaluation of their teams against outside competition was the cause.
The rivals, separated by conference realignment that led Missouri to the SEC and the Big 12 to the brink of collapse, got together to raise money for hurricane relief. Multiple hurricanes hit the United States, Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands and other portions of the Caribbean earlier this fall, with some areas still in the early stages of getting things back in order.
The 19,000 fans who secured tickets to the Sprint Center for the charity-inspired reignition of the Border War won’t be the only ones to be able to watch Kansas and Missouri play Sunday.
The exhibition game, whose proceeds will be used for hurricane relief, will be streamed live for those willing to spend $40, the schools announced Friday.
“Our first objective was to sell out Sprint Center,” the two schools said jointly in a release. “Once we achieved the sellout so quickly, our fans who could not get tickets expressed tremendous interest in having the game televised. We wanted to make sure that the charities we’ve identified would be the only entities to derive revenue from this game. SIDEARM Sports has provided the platform to allow us to create a second stream of revenue via this telecast.”
The broadcast will feature Leif Lisec doing play-by-play and ESPN’s Fran Fraschilla and Holly Rowe as the analyst and sideline reporter, respectively. The trio are donating their time for the broadcast.
The Jayhawks and Tigers haven’t played since 2012, when Missouri bolted the Big 12 for the SEC. There certainly has been resentment from the move, which has kept the two from scheduling a non-conference tilt. Now, though, they’re hoping the layoff has built enough anticipation to raise upward of $1 million for the Houston Harvey Relief Fund, the Rebuild Texas Fund, the Florida Disaster Fund, Juntos y Unidos Por Puerto Rico and the Fund for the U.S. Virgin Islands after a devastating hurricane season in the United States.
The game will pit the perennial powerhouse Jayhawks, expected to be a top-five preseason team and strong favorite to win the Big 12, against an ascendant Missouri, which has the potential 2018 No. 1 NBA draft pick Michael Porter, Jr. headlining the roster reboot under first-year coach Cuonzo Martin.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for two schools to do something together for the better of the masses,” Kansas coach Bill Self said last week, “and be able to send a significant amount of money to people that are suffering right now. So that is going to come to fruition, and we’re real happy about it.”
Report: Kansas and Missouri working on exhibition matchup for this month
The Border War may be making a return to college basketball. Sort of.
Kansas and Missouri are in talks to faceoff on the basketball court later this month, but in an exhibition to raise money for hurricane relief efforts, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Thursday.
The game would be played Oct. 22, at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, but needs a waiver from the NCAA to proceed, the Post-Dispatch reported.
If the two programs are able to get this done, it would appear to be a major step forward to actually seeing these long-time conference rivals return to actually playing real games against each other. They haven’t shared a court since the Tigers left the Big 12 for the SEC in 2012. The Jayhawks lead the all-time series, which dates back to 1907, 172-95.
Kansas coach Bill Self, who has not been in favor of playing his easterly neighbor, said this past summer he thought the two schools would eventually face off again.
“I’m sure there will be a time where Kansas and Missouri play again. I don’t know when that time will be,” Self said in July, according to the Kansas City Star.
It didn’t seem like anything was moving toward a reunion this summer this summer, though.
“I certainly don’t have any ill feelings toward our bordering state or school at all,” Self said. “But I’m not interested in doing what’s best for Missouri. That doesn’t interest me at all, just like they are not interested in doing what’s best for Kansas. I’m interested in doing what’s best for us.
“Certainly I think my athletic director and my new chancellor, I’m sure they feel the same way. If it’s best for us to play them, then I’m sure we’ll play. That will be a decision by more than just me.”
It would seem there’s momentum to get this done, and for a good cause. Hopefully it clears the way for these two to reignite a great rivalry with regular on-campus games in the near future.
Jontay Porter makes it official, will join Missouri this season
Missouri later sent out a release confirming the news.
“We’re very excited about Jontay’s decision, which was a big one for him and his family,” Cuonzo Martin said in a statement. “Jontay is certainly a talented basketball player, but his
outstanding work in the classroom should not be overlooked. The ability to reclassify requires a serious commitment to your academics. Jontay is a young man who takes pride in being a great teammate and communicator. He has the skill and knowledge of the game
to contribute from day one, at both ends of the floor.”
The announcement is significant yet in no way surprising. With Michael Porter destined to be a one-and-done player, it just made too much sense for Jontay to join up, not only with his brother but with his dad, Michael Porter, Sr., who is an assistant on Cuonzo Martin’s staff.
It’s also not the least bit surprising because Jontay himself called it a “safe assumption” that he would reclass just last month.
So no, not a shock here. But it is significant.
The younger Porter is a 6-foot-10 center that was a top-15 player in 2018. Adding him to the roster is a big deal when you’re teaming him not only with his older, uber-talented brother, but another highly-ranked recruit in Jeremiah Tilmon, another 6-foot-10 player and top-50 recruit.
It’s going to be extremely fascinating to watch Missouri’s transformation this year. Under Kim Anderson, they were one of – and maybe the – worst Power 5 programs. They won just 27 games – just eight in the SEC – in three years. Now, just months after Martin’s hire, they’ve got one of the country’s best recruiting classes and an instantly dynamic roster.
It also could sting some for Washington fans, who had Michael Porter, Jr. committed and likely would have had Jontay as well before they fired Lorenzo Romar, who had previously added Porter, Sr. to his staff. Romar’s success had dwindled significantly even with high-end talent on the roster in recent years, but, still, watching this kind of talent that seemed destined for Seattle end up in Columbia can’t be easy.
“Coach Martin and his staff are awesome, and they are definitely one of the things I look forward to most about playing for Mizzou,” Jontay said in a statement. “Moving up to college will be an easy transition for me, especially with my family here in Columbia. Mizzou Basketball will be something really special, and I can’t wait to be a part of it.”
Now, though, Missouri has a chance to be immediately ascendant in the SEC, reinvigorate a defeated fan base and begin the Martin era with some dynamism.