Missouri lands No. 1 player in Class of 2017 as Michael Porter Jr. commits

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Missouri and new head coach Cuonzo Martin have landed the No. 1 player in the Class of 2017 a week after he took the job as forward Michael Porter Jr. committed to the Tigers on Friday.

Formerly a Washington commit under now-fired head coach Lorenzo Romar, the 6-foot-9 Porter was released from his Letter of Intent this week and many believed he’d end up back at Missouri.

The Porter family lived in Columbia for many years as two of Michael’s older sisters play for the Missouri women’s team while Michael Porter Sr. was an assistant coach for the women’s team.

When Porter Sr. was hired to Missouri to be an assistant coach on Martin’s staff this week — after losing his assistant coaching job at Washington when Romar was fired — it all but sealed the deal that the Porters would return to Missouri and Michael Jr. would play for the Tigers.

Missouri might not be an NCAA Tournament team next season after struggling to an 8-24 finish and 2-16 record in the SEC. But Porter might be the most productive freshman entering college basketball next season as he has a chance to be dominant in the SEC.

VIDEO: Things get heated between players and coaches during Missouri/Georgia

(AP Photo/Samantha Baker)
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Things got heated right before halftime of the Georgia and Missouri game on Saturday.

With players from both teams holding onto a loose ball after the final shot of the half, some jawing and light pushing between players started before both sides were on the floor. Coaches from both sides seemed to steal the show from there in this one as they started getting in each other’s faces before being separated.

It’s hard to really call this is a “bench-clearing” incident since it was halftime and the teams were headed to the locker room, but from a surface level it seems like the coaches were the ones getting more involved than the players.

It doesn’t appear any punches were thrown. Not sure if any sort of suspensions will get handed down from this but some fines or other discipline might happen.

(H/t: Andrew Kauffman)

VIDEO: Missouri’s Kim Anderson emerges from casket at team’s public scrimmage

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Missouri head coach Kim Anderson is facing a lot of pressure to win this season to save his job. The third-year coach responded to the critics by having some fun at the team’s Halloween and Hoops preseason scrimmage on Friday night.

Anderson was rolled out onto the floor in a casket and unveiled before the crowd, popping out and surprising fans and his own players with the stunt.

“Many other have buried us,” Anderson said to the crowd. “We hope to prove them wrong this year.”

Anderson has struggled mightily since taking over Missouri as the team is 19-44 and only 6-30 in the SEC in his two seasons at the helm. The Tigers have finished in dead last in the SEC the last two years with the team being picked to do the same this preseason.

For Anderson to take the floor in a casket shows a very unique sense of humor (especially in the world of sports), but he could also be remembered only for this stunt if he doesn’t turn things around this season.

With a roster full of sophomores and new players, the Tigers are going to have to prove they belong in the SEC very quickly so this stunt doesn’t come back to haunt Anderson’s tenure.

(H/t: Dave Matter, St. Louis-Post Dispatch)

Young players step up for Missouri during overseas trip

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Missouri just finished up an overseas trip to Italy where they went 3-1 before an important season for a young team that needs to win now. Head coach Kim Anderson is sitting on the hot seat entering this season and he needs a lot of the pieces he’s recruited the last few years to come through for him this season.

The Italy trip showed that this team will show some signs of life this season with a lot of talented underclass players stepping up. The question is how this translates to the upcoming 2016-17 season?

The sophomore backcourt of Terrence Phillips, Cullen VanLeer and K.J. Walton was solid with VanLeer leading the team by putting up 13.8 points per game while shooting 46 percent from three-point range. Phillips was all over the place on the trip as he averaged 11.8 points, 7.5 rebounds, 6.0 assists and 4.0 steals per game while Walton put up 8.0 points and 5.0 rebounds.

A pair of freshmen, Frankie Hughes (11.5 points per game) and Willie Jackson (11.3 points, 9.5 rebounds) also both averaged double-figures on the trip while the 6-foot-6 Jackson was a force on the glass.

Sometimes it’s hard to tell the type of competition some teams face during overseas trips, but the Tigers have to be thrilled that they had so many younger guys step up and also gain extra experience before an important season. Missouri still won’t have very high expectations entering the season but they’ll have a chance to be much tougher every game.

(H/t: Nate Latsch, Scout.com)

Five-star 2017 forward Porter Jr. releases top five schools

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As one of the top players in the Class of 2017, 6-foot-8 small forward Michael Porter Jr. has been on the receiving end of attention from many high-major programs. Monday night Porter, a native of Columbia, Missouri who’s ranked second in the class by Rivals.com, revealed his top five schools at this point in time.

The five schools that made the cut (in alphabetical order): Indiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, Virginia and Washington.

Of the five schools on Porter’s list Missouri and Washington may be the most interesting given the family connections. Not only is Missouri the hometown school, but Porter’s older sisters Bri and Cierra are members of the women’s basketball team.

And one of the assistants on that coaching staff was Porter’s father, who earlier this spring joined Lorenzo Romar’s staff at Washington. The elder Porter isn’t the only Washington connection either, with Michael’s younger brother Jontay being a commit in the Class of 2018.

Missouri dismisses guard Wes Clark

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Missouri has dismissed junior guard Wes Clark for a violation of the athletic department’s academic policies, the school announced in a release on Tuesday night.

The 6-foot guard from Michigan started all 25 games for Missouri this season and was a key perimeter threat for the Tigers during his three seasons with the team.

“Wes Clark had failed to meet the academic expectations of the Mizzou Athletics Department and is no longer a member of the men’s basketball program,” said the Missouri statement. “Due to this issue relating to academics, Mizzou Athletics will have no further comment.”

During his junior season, Clark averaged 9.8 points, 3.0 assists and 3.0 rebounds per game while shooting 37 percent from the field and 37 percent from the 3-point line. Without Clark in the lineup, Missouri will turn to freshman guard Terrence Phillips and sophomore guard Tramaine Isabell as the team’s primary ball handlers.